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European Marathon MTB Champs - One Month to go!

European Marathon MTB Champs - One Month to go!

European Marathon Mountain bike Championships 2014 - With only a month till the European Mountain Bike Marathon Championships in Ballyhoura, preparations are well under way to host some of the worlds best riders on the pristine trails of Ballyhoura trail centre. The race takes place over the weekend of the 14th and 15th of June 2014 with the Saturday races open to all and the Sunday reserved for the Professionals.  


Following on from the success of the Giro d’Italia visiting Ireland, history will be made as this is the first time Ireland has ever hosted an official UCI Championship mountain bike event. Admission to the venue is free for spectators who can expect to see the World’s best take to the trails for the honour of being crowned European Champion.


Marathon mountain bike racing is an endurance sport, typically taking place over a cross country off-road course of approximately 100 kilometres. The male and female champions get to wear a special European Champion jersey for the following year when competing in Marathon races as well as taking the honour of being the best on the continent.

As we get closer to the event some of the big names in the sport have signed up to compete including the current World Marathon Champion Christophe Sauser from Switzerland. Dutch legend Bas Peters, the German Bulls team, UK champion Sally Bingham and our own 2013 Irish National Champion Jenny Fay.  Irish International road riders Ryan Sherlock and National Road Champion Mel Spath will line up along with a full domestic field. Up and coming riders Leah and Jonathon Maunsell, who ride with the local club Team Ballyhoura, will be present. The duo race multiple mountain bike disciplines and Irish development squad rider Leah Maunsell is making waves, competing at senior level in Enduro mountain bike racing where she is a regular on the podium, despite being only sixteen years old.

However it is not all about the professionals. Saturday's support races are open for all categorized into Expert, Masters, Vet and Classic Vet and feature a course of 75 kilometres and 1925 metres of climbing. There is also a Junior and Fun race over 23kms on exciting trails. The main event on Sunday 15th sees the Elite Men tackle a course of 93km with 2199 metres of climbing while the Elite Women's field take on a course of 75km and 1925 metres of height gain. Riders set off in a mass start with the first to cross the finish line being crowned the European Champion.


Irish rider Ryan Sherlock is well versed in the Ballyhoura trails and told us of his excitement at the race being held in Ireland.  


‘I have been riding and racing in Ballyhoura for many years now and when I heard that the European MTB Marathon Championships would be making a stop there in 2014 I was very excited. In 2013, the Irish MTB Marathon Championships were held on the course and I got a first hand experience of how it will be in June - the race organisation, the facilities and the course are world class, it is going to supply a very worthing male and female Champion. I real all round performer.


The course itself, it is so much fun to ride, there is so much fast swooping singletrack that you almost look forward to the fireroads trails just to let your mind relax a moment - more than 50% of your time will be spent swooping left and right. With the temperamental weather we can experience in Ireland, the course itself is designed so that rain or sun doesn't change the track very much. Having raced in pouring rain, and blazing sun on it, it only makes a very small little difference to the speed. The only word of warning I have - watch out for the pointy rocks!’


Designed in a clover leaf, the course is both great for competitors but also spectators who can get to see the riders three times through the start/finish area despite them only doing one lap and several times out on the tight technical singletrack. The course is a mix of wide forest roads, trail centre single-track and natural technical features embedded in some of the most picturesque countryside that Ireland has to offer.


The event is being assisted by Ballyhoura Failte and forms part of the Limerick City of Culture festivities.

Registration is open and costs €40 with registration closing on the 12th of June at 13.00.


It’s not all about the racing though. On race days a food village will be set up beside the start/finish displaying local food producers products. The Rocky Mayhem Music Festival is on in Kilfinane village from Thursday the 12th of June until Sunday the 15th. The Saturday night line up includes The Frank and Walters, O Emperor, New Windings, with DJ JP Dillon from Limerick 95FM, ensuring competitors and spectators can enjoy a full weekend of activity.


For further queries contact info@biking.ie or 083-4173899. The official website is www.euromarathonchamps.com. Media accreditation can be applied for on the event website in the relevant section.


The Rocky Mayhem Music Festival takes place the same weekend as the event in nearby Kilfinane village. No stranger to MTB events, Kilfinane has hosted the Single Speed World Championships in 2011 and the International Bluegrass Enduro Tour in 2013 as well as numerous domestic races in cross country (XCO), Enduro and Marathon including the Irish National Marathon Championships in 2013.

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