The Hope Endurance Downhill, Fort William

Aug 7, 2009
by Jordan Holmes  
Source: MTB Cut

James Shirley, a downhill rider from Roy Bridge in Lochaber, was crowned king of the hill at the Hope Endurance Downhill, billed as the most extreme downhill mountain biking endurance race in the UK, that was held at Nevis Range, near Fort William, on Saturday 1 August 2009.

The 80 riders who took part managed a total of 870 runs in six hours with a total distance of 2453.4 km covered. This is equivalent to just over 359 descents of Ben Nevis, the UK’s highest mountain (1344 meters).

Click here for more in the Hope Endurance DH...The event was staged on the internationally renowned World Championships downhill track at Nevis Range near Fort William in the Outdoor Capital of the UK, a full-on, flat-out, no-compromise charge down the face of Aonach Mor. The grueling challenge involved hurtling down the 2.82km track as many times as possible in six hours with riders tackling a succession of big jumps and bumps, berms, drop-offs, rock slabs and technical natural sections all the way from the top gondola station (at 655m) to the magnificent finish section at the Nevis Range car park (100m).

With seven of the riders who took part in this epic challenge completing an impressive sixteen runs of the stamina draining track (a total of 45.12km each) in the allotted six hours it all came down to individual run times. James Shirley of the Glencroft Rabble, who came second in last year’s race, completed his 16 descents in a total of 1:36:50 (not including gondola rides and pit stops), averaging 6 minutes 03 seconds per run, to take the top spot on the podium. Chris Hutchens from Oban, an elite rider from the MTB Cut Cycle Jersey team, was only one and a half minutes behind Shirley, averaging 6 minutes 09 seconds a descent, despite losing his chain on the second run and freewheeling for the remaining 14 laps and recording the fastest descent of the day. First placed veteran rider Alistair MacLennan (OffBeatBikes), from Fort William, was third overall for the second year running in a total time of 1:38:45.

James Shirley

James Shirley

Hutchens’ teammate James Scott had the same problem loosing his chain during run six but still finished as the top junior rider and fourth overall. He completed sixteen descents in 1:39:25.

Hope, sponsors of the Endurance Downhill, had three riders racing under the name Hope Factory Racing and competition amongst the riders was fierce. In the end Simon Perry finished in ninth place with an impressive 15 laps in 1:50. Johnny Henstock was the second teammate to finish with 14 laps in 2:06 mins. Ian Witherall had been leading the way amongst the Hope riders up until his twelfth run when he encountered some technical problems that forced him out of the race.

Frazer Coupland from No Fuss Events, organisers of the Hope Downhill Endurance said: “We are again extremely happy with the way the race went and are delighted that Hope will be sponsoring us again next year. We would also like to announce that next year competitors will be able to compete in teams of two.”

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Orange Bikes who displayed for the first time at this event were pleased that the first four riders were all racing on Orange Bikes.

As one of the longest and most physically demanding courses on the international mountain bike race circuit, riders require physical strength, quick reflexes, superb bike control and an unerring eye for the right line. On Saturday 1 August they also required bucket loads of stamina.

Coming in hot.

Coming in hot.

The Le Mans style mass start was another challenge that most downhill racers are not used to. It involved a 100-meter sprint along a forestry track to pick up competitors’ bikes. This was then followed by an uphill ride to about three quarters of the way down from the top gondola station where they joined the track for the first run down. However the six hour time limit didn’t start until the first bike was loaded onto the gondola after that first run down the hill.

Results – for full results go to

Senior Male
1. James Shirley - Glencroft Rabble - 16 laps in 1:36:50 mins.
2. Chris Hutchens – MTB Cut Cycle Jersey team - 16 laps in 1:38:20
3. Mark Maciver – Monsterbike – 16 laps in 1:42:08

Veteran Male
1. Alistair MacLennan – OffbeatBikes – 16 laps in 1:38:45
2. Steven Deas – I-Cycles – 14 laps in 1:54:23
3. Mark Hyslop – Take it like a man – 14 laps in 2:03:44

Junior Male
1. James Scott – MTB Cut Cycle Jersey team - 16 laps in1:39:25
2. Rory Maclennan – 15 laps in 1:57:00
3. Robert Shaw –team inspire to aspire – 13 laps in 1:52:12

Senior Female
1. Naomi Williamson - Highland Bicycle Co. – 13 laps in 1:53:58
2. Angela Coates – Fox Racing – 13 laps in 1:59:50
3. Jo Cardwell – Moray MINX Girl – 12 laps in 2:00:06

Jesse Wigman of Offbeat Bikes was the fastest hard tail with 15 laps in an impressive 1 hour and 54 minutes.

All photos courtesy of


  • 6 1
 honestly not ALL americans are D-Bags. and this race looks awesome!
  • 5 0
 that looks cool
  • 2 1
 well done guys looks like a good days session, if i was good enough i wouldnt mind giving it a go, trust it to be a yank who doesnt apreciate how well these people train for these events and how well they ride
  • 1 1
 That looks so fun. Endurance races is really something I want to do at some point in my life.

EDIT: wasn't meant to be a reply to dsazonic
  • 2 1
 no worries think you should cum over here and give it a go lol
  • 1 0
 I will! after ya know...i train for a decade or two Razz
domster, i say we leave from canada and go out there for the next endurance race Big Grin
  • 1 1
 ha ha i think i may need a decade to get into shape lol
  • 2 1
 wow looks awsome was there a couple of days b4hand and was riding with robert shaw. Good job mate u must be well pleased Big Grin
  • 3 2
 robert shaw is not fast Blank Stare
  • 2 1
 Not by a long shot. Fair play to him for lasting the full six hours, but I fully agree with whitetux on this one.
  • 1 0
 look guys he may not be the fastest guy out there, but you have to luv him! hahahahahaha lol
  • 2 0
 so true lol with his spare pare of 40s hahahahaha
  • 1 0
 COMEDY! hahahahahahaa
  • 1 0
 Ur home from wherever u were now arnt u?
  • 1 0
  • 2 1
 well done james, see you there next spring/summer for the world cup. George.
  • 1 1
 Wow. That's def. my style of race!! Hardtails rule, but I'd leave mine behind on a race like that...they should have a ht only class, maybe even ss ht!
  • 1 1
 The rider who finished 10th overall was on a HT! He managed 15 runs in 6hrs. That's insane !! Big respect to the guy..
  • 2 1
 Lovin' Hutch's mush on the video still!
  • 2 1
 15 laps on a hardtail is pretty crazy
  • 1 1
 Red Bull Burner Oct 10th, Angel fire New Mexico. 12 hours 9am to 9pm. That's right in the dark. Sorry I don't have a link.
  • 1 1
 Whoops...last years...
  • 1 1
 Found a small thing on their website for 2009...
  • 1 1
 Wolf mtn. In Utah will be doing an endurance dh on sep. 19th. Should be a good 6 hours.
  • 1 0
 was just there today, so good and good weather haha
  • 2 1
 Yus well done james !
  • 1 1
 I'd love to do an enduro DH race like that, looks like good fun.
  • 1 1
 Done that last year. Loved it alot.
  • 1 0
 Friggen mad fun. Nice.
  • 1 0
 there was 99 riders
  • 1 1
 looks great!
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