Aston Hill Black Run Race report
Jack Geoghegan (Madison/Saracen) took the Elite honours at the Aston Hill Black Run race at the weekend followed by Nathan Vials (Steve Peat Syndicate) and Harry Molloy (Madison/Saracen).
Read on for the full race report:
Words and photos: Neil Cain/Aston Hill.
In its 14th incarnation, the gain of an hour over Saturday night didn't appear to discourage riders from coming to race Aston Hill's Black Run on the 27th March. Year on year the race has gained in popularity, and 2011 was no exception with riders from as far afield as Yorkshire rubbing shoulders with locals, some even braving the near freezing March temperatures camping overnight to ensure an early start. 261 made it to the race (after a few unfortunate pull-outs leading up to the event) which meant that the field was very nearly full and provided the base for a great day of racing.
After a dry week the Black Run was running incredibly well for the time of year, and even a typically Aston Hill grey and misty start didn't deter late registrants turning up before 8am. Plucky racers were soon practicing on the course, bu at 8.30am in late March they needed to do something to keep warm! It wasn't long before sun soon broke through, and despite it being a hugely competitive field with at least three World Cup racers in attendance, the atmosphere throughout the day was very friendly, relaxed and upbeat. There was a fantastic turnout of spectators, whose innovative use of everyday products (kitchen pans, drinks cans, bike frames) to make some noise was quite amazing!
The atmosphere and support clearly helped encourage racers, as the dry conditions and sheer talent combined to produce some outstanding times.
The first of the day to take advantage were the masochist/Hardtail category riders. Despite his suspension disadvantage, previous Aston Hill winner Daniel Jarey flew down the track to take the win in an insanely quick time of 1:37.440, closely tailed by Max Power's Tim Kemp and Dees Cycles' Mark Phillpott.
The Juvenile category followed which Alistair Warrell blitzed through, winning by over three seconds and beating Dan Hartwright and RBR's Archie Walton, who were split by less than half a second.
Youth rider, Aston Hill local and Madison/Saracen sponsored Phil Atwill razed the course to the ground in 1:30.67, a time which put him 13th overall and over four seconds in front of Bill Farrington of Gravity Project and Matthew Goode, who were split by under half a second respectively; the battle between second and third was fiercely contested.
Jono Jones pleased his sponsors Surf Sales, Transition, Da Kine and Trick X who were supporting the race by taking first in 1:26.61 - the fourth fastest time of the day. Watch this rider for the future! Aston Hill regular Sam Wakefield was hot on his tail though, taking 1:27.08 to complete the course (the fifth fastest time of the day), and Brandon Love closed the top trio in 1:31.48.
The over-30 Masters category was the next to race, and with nearly 50 riders was highly competitive. Chris Spooner of Mulisha plummeted down the course in 1:27.79, nearly three seconds quicker than Bikeactive.com's Jamie Smith. Anton Columbo came in another second back to complete the top three.
The over 40s Veterans category is still sharp, with experience making up for youthful recklessness! Trevor Harvey of Harveyboysracing.com proved this in a time of 1:32.41, Rich Simpson of Foes/Balfa/Iso2 following over two seconds later and descent-gear.com owner and British Downhill Series organisor Si Paton showing that he still had what counts by placing a solid third.
A good turnout in the Ladies category meant that the racing was fast and furious! Amie Wills of rootsandrain.co.uk made the course look far easier than it was, beating second placed Aston Hill local Nicky Belton by several seconds. Third place Mulebar Girl Anna Glowinski deserves an extra special mention for finishing third in her first downhill race - well done Anna!
The 19-29 Senior category was next; with over 100 riders it was also the biggest category of the day. The racing was unsurprisingly close, with Josh Lane, Nick Geogehan and Nick Cornwell all finishing within a second of one another giving credence to the standard of the racers.
The final category of the day was the Expert/Elite, which included World Cup racers Harry Molloy, Olie Burton and Nathan Vials. However, today was Jack Geoghegan's day of the Madison/Saracen team. In his first season racing as an Elite on the national downhill circuit, local rider Jack stormed down the Black Run in 1:25.05 earning him first place and fastest time of the event. To put it into context how fast the rest of the field were though, Steve Peat Syndicate's Nathan Vials came second in 1:25.24 and Harry Molloy also of Madison/Saracen finished one second back at 1:26.07. Very fast, and insanely furious.
http://mpora.com/videos/yhSL4oMEK AstonHill Blackrun Race >>
It was a classic day of hard racing in a wonderfully relaxed and fun atmosphere where families cheered on world-class riders, who in turn were mixing it up with grassroots racers. Everyone who raced should feel very proud of their efforts. Mikrotime have a full results list at http://www.mikrotime.com/mtb/ast2011/ast1101.html, results with photos are available at http://www.rootsandrain.co.uk/race356/2011-mar-27-aston-hill-black-run-aston-hill/, there's plenty of shots on Aston Hill's Flickr page: http://www.flickr.com/groups/rideastonhill/pool/.
As ever, a massive thanks must go to the incredibly generous people and companies who contributed to the race. Madison.co.uk (Aztec), Ison Distribution (Gusset, Identiti, Halo), Fisher Outdoors (Rock Shox, Truvativ, Troy Lee Designs), Surf-Sales (Da Kine, Kali Protection), Abarth UK, Mountain Mania of Tring, Beeline Bikes of Oxford, Dees Cycles of Amersham, Duffbag, descent-gear.com, IMBikemag.com, Haven Distribution and Monster Energy all provided prizes and support which, in tough times, is nothing short of amazing.
A huge shout as well to Mikrotime, BC commissaires, David Price Osteo, Extreme Medics, Café in the woods and SimonSlaterPhotography.com for keeping people timed, safe, moving, fed and inspired.
Finally, a massive hats off needs to go to the race backbone; the marshals and sign-on staff did a sterling job at an incredibly busy race. Thanks guys.
The clocks have now gone forward, which means that the evenings are brighter and it's time to get evening rides in. The park is open a little later now and it's dry - do you really have an excuse?
The next race is the Eastern and Central Championships in September - keep an eye on www.rideastonhill.co.uk for this!