The Hope Fort William Downhill Endurance Race

Jul 31, 2012
by Si Paton  
Fraser of No Fuss Events gets things underway. Cathro leads the charge for every rider to pick up their bike before cycling up to tower 8 then begin 6 gruelling hours of downhill. Chicken feed for these dudes

Riders Ready..

As one of the longest and most physically demanding courses on the international mountain bike race circuit, riders of this grueling event needed physical strength, quick reflexes, superb bike control and an unerring eye for the right line as they sped down the 2.82km track. They needed huge amounts of stamina in order to ride the track as many times as possible in six hours!

Run 3. A long way to go yet.
Gary Forest

Rob Jarman

Frazer Coupland, from No Fuss Events, said: “The Fort William Downhill Endurance is a totally unique event to the UK and it has already captured the imagination of some of the key players in the downhill community. 2008 saw the winning rider jam in 18 runs of the course. It is a fresh, new and different event, whilst challenging enough to be completely in keeping with the gnarly hardcore scene normally associated with downhill riders. This is a fantastic event for spectators too. With great access onto the course from both the top gondola station and the Nevis Range Car Park, excellent spectator viewing points the length of the course. Add in a restaurant and a café, friends, family and hard core downhill fans were able to soak up the adrenaline fuelled atmosphere in style, whilst cheering on the riders as they completed the awesome challenge.”

Later in the day like many others she suffered a puncture on this brutal track.

Rachel Walker

Boardwalk rider gondola and a big bloody hill

Fraser Grice

In normal downhill races riders race individually against the clock, for the Fort William Downhill Endurance riders used a Le Mans style mass start. After a short run to the event tech area, downhill bikes were collected and rode uphill to the Nevis Range Gondola’s Tower Nine – about three quarters of the way down from the top. Riders then raced as fast as possible to the bottom where they caught the gondola to the traditional start of the track at the top station. From there it was simple - the first rider to 15 laps in under six hours.

A little style always helps.

Fraser Grice

At this age - man or machine - you decide
Alastair MacLennan

Each descent was timed with the cumulative descent times counting in cases of equal descents. The idea of the event is not only to test endurance, but also reliability. Participants were only allowed one bike and a list of itemized spares to see them through the whole event. At the bottom of each run participants had the opportunity to enter the tech area to carry out any running repairs, replenish fluids and to take a breather.

That s right. This brave lad took on one of the world s toughest longest and brutal downhill tracks on a fully rigid P3. Bonkers

Jesse Wigman on a fully rigid

Looking fresh on his 2nd run.

Tom Gooch

There were timed penalties for riders who had to change wheels, forks, bars, frames and other major components. Also participants were not allowed assistance in the maintenance of their equipment from outside the tech area.

Event Timetable:
15:30 Race start
21:30 Race finish
22:15 Prize giving in Pine martin Cafe.

WHEELS They took a real beating on this track

Phil Parton

Yip that s a wall and that s what it s there for.

James Shirley

The now famous Le Mans start didn't fail and there was great excitement as riders began to line up at the bottom of the track before a short, but tough fire road climb, allowing the field to spread out before entering the downhill track at the tower to begin the first descent. Enduro rider, Gary Forrest, took an early lead, but was chased closely by last year’s winner and local rider James Shirley, as well as Sick Skills’ Ken Bathro. As the day progressed, rider’s began to fall by the wayside as the brutal track took its toll on both man and bike. It seemed that almost every rider faced a flat tire, snapped chain, broken mech or buckled wheel at some point during the day. The remaining competitors endured both the physical and mental beating of the track. As the final hour approached and dark clouds moved in over Aonach Mor. The evening finished with some beers, laughs and good times in the Pine Martin Cafe for prize giving.

Penultimate run.

Tony Czyzewski

Congratulations to James Shirley, who took the overall win, as well as Alastair MacLennan in the Vets and Gus Jackson in the Super Vets. Jessie Wigman took the Hard tail category on a fully rigid mount. Hope rider Rob Jarmen took second senior position with Rachel Walker also riding for Hope taking the win in the female category.

75 and still going strong. Dope test awaits

Alastair MacLennan

A special mention for the top three juniors, Fraser Grice, Keir Coupland and Finn Munro, who all completed 13 laps and finished well within the top half of the total field.

Pics - Paul Cram
Words - Frazer Coupland

Stay Unclipped.
Si Paton..
Give us a like - Halo British Downhill Series


  • 31 0
 Good write up, great pictures. Fully rigid??? Jesse Wigman - off your headman
  • 12 0
 Maybe he has suspension in his arms or legs to compensate for the rigid bike... Or he's just a bad ass mother fucker!!
  • 6 0
 Maybe he was on one of those "surly" bikes with the 4 inch wide tyres. No chance id ride it on a rigid, props to that man.
  • 2 0
 the surlys are amazing we hadd one in the shop last week, SO COOL!!!!!!!
  • 4 0
 It says he rode it on a fully rigid P3! So "regular" tyres ... insane.
  • 3 0
 Less suspension, more skills! Good on ya, mate!
  • 1 5
flag freeridefish (Jul 31, 2012 at 14:41) (Below Threshold)
 Awesome event but why is the 5th photo shopped? :l
  • 2 0
 its just black and white?
  • 14 0
 Ken Bathro! Ha!
  • 2 0
 This sounds and looks like a class race and id love to take part in it next thing tho they signed this off with "stay unclipped", however, most of the pictures here show riders using spds....they are the way to go!!!
  • 2 0
 Do they wait in line at the lift. Seems like you could be a good min a head of someone then have to ride up with them waiting for a chair... Unless they run a shit load of chairs. It would be interesting to know how they keep people from bunching up at the bottom.
  • 3 0
 Awesome event, thanks to Nofuss and the Nevis Range, going to enter next years race for sure!
  • 3 0
 This race broke my bike and my shoulder, so much fun though!
  • 1 0
 No luck mate. I broke my left wrist in two places, and my right shoulder in two places when I fell off at Inners in April.The price we pay for the sport we love!
  • 1 0
 Job Jarman...remember him when he used to race the N.A.M.B.S, bloody good rider.
  • 1 0
 Damn, Si omitted this - your winner James Shirley on his penultimate run......
  • 1 0
 I would want to enter but I'd probably die after 2 runs! props to the guy on the rigid! and congrats for the winnerSmile
  • 1 0
 I've made a video it's on YouTube nuts of fury episode 9 it's a video of my road trip to fort william including the race
  • 2 1
 always wanted to enter this race but never got round to it...
  • 1 0
 sweet article, is here a video ?
  • 1 0
 well done to everyone! Especially the baeys Keir and Finn! Big Grin
  • 1 0
 Awesome, I'd love to give this a go! Especially at FW..
  • 1 0
 Haha! The race sounds perfect :-D
  • 1 0
 whats the max number of laps ever done in 6? whats the limit?
  • 2 1
 Article says some guy smashed in 18 one year, and that the race is first to 15. If you are done your 15 before the 6 hours you could probably just keep going to see just how many you could actually do
  • 1 0
 yeah if you kept going i wonder what the upper limt / max is anyone could do....was trying to calculate it...i know unless youre a pro on a good day its it wee bit more than 5 minutes a descent! ...but dont know exactly what transit times are like from lower point to upper takes a bit to go up in the chairlift but i never timed it when i was on it...
  • 1 0
 james was busting out 5 and a half minute runs every go, untill maybe the last 2 or so laps, pretty damn quick!
  • 1 0
 think it was fergus lamb who did 18
  • 1 0
 Format always used to be the most you could do in 6 hrs. This year they changed it to the first to 15.
  • 1 0
 I survived the whole 6hrs...
  • 1 0
 I would love to try this next year !
  • 1 0
 Ken Bathro?????? IS that ment to be Ben Cathro ?
  • 1 0
 Sure is!
  • 1 0
 @teamdoa you 2still ride

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