The weekend of the 23-24 March saw the first round of the 2013 UK Gravity Enduro Series. Flt Lt Fay Cunningham, Sgt Lee Jordan and Sgt John Summerton were there to tackle everything the Enduro scene had to offer, proudly emblazoned in the RAF Jersey.
Originating from France in 2003, the Gravity Enduro format is based on motorbike enduro and anyone who has followed car rallying should find it instantly familiar. The most basic definition is timed downhills and untimed uphills. Racing is over a series of special stages and whoever has the fastest combined time after those stages wins. Riders need to get between the stages, often for a set start time. The Gravity Enduro races in the UK are over five timed stages.
The race itself was touch and go with the fantastic weather we have been experiencing here in the UK! Luckily Afan, in South Wales, managed to avoid the snow, but heavy rainfall leading up to the weekend meant that some of the sections were extremely muddy and almost impossible to ride.
The Saturday consisted of a practice day with each athlete given time to complete the 5 timed sections and the transitions, followed by a seeding run on section 5 which would also count towards the final standings.
On the Sunday, Afan managed to avoid the rain but the temperature was below zero, only creeping up to 2 or 3 degrees at best all day. The riders ensured that they had plenty of kit for the day with extra gloves and warm jackets for the transition stages. It was really important to keep your hands warm as it would not be good trying to hold on and brake with hands that would not work!
Race day went well with Fay, Lee and John all putting down competitive times at each stage, Fay was racing in the Elite category amongst professionals such as Tracey Moseley in her Rainbow Jersey. Lee was racing in the Masters Men and managed to put in two amazing first runs on timed sections one and two which would not have been out of place in the Elite category and John was racing in the Veterans Men’s category, again putting down some great times that saw him take time out of some of the Elite racers.
It was a great start to the Gravity Enduro season and final standings saw Fay hold her own in the Elite Women’s category gaining 6th place, Lee finished in a respectable 66th place in the largest category, the Masters (123 racers in total) and John took 23rd place in the Vets.
The next round is set to be more technical and hopefully warmer, although as it is going to be held in Innerleithen in Scotland there will be no promises with the weather!