MTB Marathon events. Fading away?

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bychosis
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MTB Marathon events. Fading away?

Postby bychosis » Thu May 04, 2017 2:38 pm

Off to the Convict 100 tomorrow (it's on Saturday). This year there seems to be around 600 riders, well down from being sold out at around 1500 a few years ago. Are the others experiencing a similar drop in entrants?

I also see the Convict 100 as now competing directly with Port to Port, the 4 day stage race, in a couple of weeks especially as it's in the same area. Is this where everyone is headed or are the hey-dey of MTB marathons over? I would love to do the Port to Port, especially being on home turf but find it fairly challenging to shell out $400 for a few days of riding and the individual days aren't as much a challenge as 100km in one hit. I can do 40km fairly easily without paying for the privilege. Maybe if both events were about 6months apart I'd consider doing both.
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Re: MTB Marathon events. Fading away?

Postby trailgumby » Thu May 04, 2017 9:16 pm

Could well be. I'd suggest it's part of the normal product lifecycle. Events are a product as much as anything else.

24hr events are in serious decline with both the Scott and the Mont running their last editions this year.

This isn't a very nice thing to say, but I don't actually mind that the Convict event dies. They almost killed a good mate of mine a few years ago with their appalling lack of giving a **** when he had a serious crash and broke most of his left side ribs and punctured his lung, broke his collarbone and fractured vertebrae.

They had signed all the minor descents, so my mate was expecting there'd be a warning for the dangerous one they called out at the pre-race briefing. Except there wasn't. Comes around the corner, there's a very short sight line before the trail drops out from underneath him and he clips the crest of the next couple of waterbars trying and failing to get some brakes on before the rear wheel cases the face of the third one. The impact flipped him over the bars and into the face of the fourth on his back at 60km/hr.

So not only did they set up the crash with the way the course signage set expectations, but a tragi-comedy of errors followed with radios that didn't work, first aid responders that wouldn't move until radio messages came through, a medical officer who leant on my injured mate to get to their feet, sitting him upright in the 4WD when it eventually got there when he had spinal damage, and the icing on the cake - allowing sponsors tents to obstruct the helo landing area so they couldn't land. This delayed extraction for several hours while they went back to base to refuel and wait for a clear landing site.

All of which was met with shrugged shoulders and a distinct lack of interest and urgency from the race organisers.

So I think it's fair to say I 'm a little conflicted about the event while these people are running it.

Lovely area to ride, though. and disappointed that marathons are in decline as I'm finally getting to the degree of fitness and endurance after 10 years to be able to think about riding one. I'm a late starter to the endurance cycling game. :(

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Re: MTB Marathon events. Fading away?

Postby sclyde2 » Fri May 05, 2017 4:54 pm

way to go off topic and totally derail a thread.

should i now complain about... hmm, i don't know.... how Europeans invaded Australia, and the part that convicts had in it? probably just about as relevant..

as for the topic of the thread, i am not sure. perhaps there is just so much more choice now, with a plethora of events, many more different niches being filled. 10 or so years ago, there wasn't much to choose from. around that time, alternative 24hr events only just started cropping up, there wasn't as many ~100k races, nor as many 4/8hr series. meanwhile, the local clubs are putting on more 3hr events, and they are much cheaper to enter too. these days, there are also other types of mtb events to do also. people may be migrating to enduro also. or going on trips to rotorua instead. i am trying to get back into it. gotta admit the kowalski classic is now a "must do" for me, which didn't exist 10 years ago. it is so much better to ride than the fire-trail type events, such as the fling or dirtworks aka convict44/68/100. so much so that i doubt i'd give the fling another go. having said all this, i am doing the mid-length convict event tomorrow.

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Re: MTB Marathon events. Fading away?

Postby march83 » Fri May 05, 2017 5:39 pm

Yeah, we definitely hit peak marathon a few years ago. Once it got to the point that there was too much choice then there became less incentive to get to each event because it didn't matter so much - if you skip the event this weekend then it doesn't matter because there's another one you could do next weekend.

As much as travelling to fun, new tracks to race bikes sounds, I'm also put off by the amount of travelling out of Sydney required to do a lot of the races. Too far to drive the morning before so it turns into a night of camping and everything that comes with that.

I think with the 24s it's something else. Those things are hard work if you do them properly. Sleep deprivation, the heat, the cold, the logistics, it's a massive weekend that takes a while to get over. The experience is definitely lots of fun and worth doing but I got the sense that after peaking around maybe 2010 there was an ever dwindling number of mountain bikers who hadnt yet done a 24 and once that supply was eaten up there were very few riders wanting to go back for a 2nd, 3rd, whatever time. The washed out Mont in 2014 left a sour taste in a lot of people's mouths too i'm sure.

Cost is also a big factor. Asking $720 for a team of 4 for the last Mont was hard to stomach. Not sure what the 4/8hr races are costing these days.

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Re: MTB Marathon events. Fading away?

Postby trailgumby » Fri May 05, 2017 8:48 pm

sclyde2 wrote:way to go off topic and totally derail a thread.

Well you can't accuse me of not trying ;) :lol: Thanks for letting me get that off my chest. :)

sclyde2 wrote:i am trying to get back into it. gotta admit the kowalski classic is now a "must do" for me, which didn't exist 10 years ago. it is so much better to ride than the fire-trail type events, such as the fling or dirtworks aka convict44/68/100. so much so that i doubt i'd give the fling another go. having said all this, i am doing the mid-length convict event tomorrow.

I'm thinking seriously of tackling the Kowalski too.

With regard to "fire trail" type events versus those with more singletrack, be careful what you wish for :) There can be such a thing as too much singletrack. There needs to be a balance - you need some sections where you can get to your bottle and gels without faceplanting into a tree or hitting a rock with one hand on the bars like I did last month at 3am.

Hard to know where everyone is going. For the hard-core there's multi-day stage racing. I think gravel Gran Fondos have become a thing and there are more hard road events that are catching peoples' attention. People can flog themselves without needing such a degree of technical proficiency to stay off the deck. Without doubt Cadel's TdF win has attracted more people to road riding.

However, in Sydney the difficulty in developing sanctioned trails in nearby bushland to a suitable standard has acted as a major brake on mountain biking. I'm a member of an advocacy group called Trail Care and after a bit of a hiatus while some of us had health issues and other things to attend to, we're starting to wind things up again. My vision is for a world class epic trail on the slopes around the southern side of Pittwater from West Head to Bobbin Head. We told NSW government that we wanted $80mil for trails and they didn't blink. But for some things we need seed funding.

Here's how you can help us get started. http://tbsm.com.au/bike-accessories/hyd ... ttle-23293

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Re: MTB Marathon events. Fading away?

Postby tcdev » Fri May 05, 2017 8:52 pm

sclyde2 wrote:way to go off topic and totally derail a thread.

Not sure I'd agree with your statement at all; in fact it could very well explain the decline in numbers. Where there's smoke, there's fire...

Regardless, I certainly found the post interesting and informative, and it would factor in my decision to enter the event in future if I ever found the time!

One thing that has struck me recently, and perhaps this is more indicative of an increased awareness on my part, but there seems to be some sort of cycling event somewhere in Australia every week! I have joined a handful of cycling groups on FB in the last 12 months and my feed seems to be full of advertising for events... so perhaps it's just a case of cyclists being spoiled for choice, rather than a decline in interest?
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Re: MTB Marathon events. Fading away?

Postby sclyde2 » Sun May 07, 2017 10:17 pm

tcdev wrote:
sclyde2 wrote:way to go off topic and totally derail a thread.

Not sure I'd agree with your statement at all; in fact it could very well explain the decline in numbers. Where there's smoke, there's fire...



You think that the experience that his mate had explains the reduction in participants at marathon MTB events? Really?

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Re: MTB Marathon events. Fading away?

Postby tcdev » Sun May 07, 2017 10:51 pm

sclyde2 wrote:
tcdev wrote:
sclyde2 wrote:way to go off topic and totally derail a thread.

Not sure I'd agree with your statement at all; in fact it could very well explain the decline in numbers. Where there's smoke, there's fire...

sclyde2 wrote:You think that the experience that his mate had explains the reduction in participants at marathon MTB events? Really?

If you're asking whether I'm suggesting that this incident alone explains it - of course not! It's more the experience of a poorly organised event overall than this particular incident. If the staff were apathetic and non-responsive in this case, then I can only imagine other, less 'critical' needs/wants of other participants would be met with similar indifference. If I came away thinking that the organisers had little interest in whether or not I actually had a good time at the event, I doubt I'd be back...
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Re: MTB Marathon events. Fading away?

Postby Duck! » Sun May 07, 2017 11:15 pm

I think XC racing in general is just not the trendy thing at the moment. In Victoria the Wombat 100, organised by the same promoter as the Convict (and let's be honest, the same very average management), disappeared a few years ago. We haven't had a proper State XC Olympic format series for at least five years, although an attempt to resurrect something similar was made over the summer just gone. The Vic Endurance Series 6/3-Hour events are still going reasonably OK, but suffering dwindling numbers, and various club-run events which have also been traditionally strong are getting fewer entrants.

By contrast, Gravity Enduro is the in thing. Everyone just wants to go down hill fast, but not need to be quite as nuts as the full-blown downhill scene. Some events allow shuttles but most don't, but the climbs don't count in the race time, so as long as you get to the stage start before they close it off it doesn't matter if you suck at climbing, which also appeals to a lot of riders. For a very small example, the club I'm in ran its first Gravity Enduro event last year, capped at 190 riders, which sold out, and had a waiting list. We had our first XC race (Olympic format) recently, generously capped at 150, realistically hoping for 100-120 entries, and wound up with around 80.
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Re: MTB Marathon events. Fading away?

Postby silentbutdeadly » Mon May 08, 2017 2:49 pm

Yes they are fading out, especially around capital cities. But there's still no less MTB events happening. XC MTB events are (in some cases) transmogrifying into multi-events staged over a weekend. Plus there's still plenty of smaller 3 and 6 hour events around the traps...

The only way my club could run a Gravity Enduro would be to throw the entrants out of a plane.
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Re: MTB Marathon events. Fading away?

Postby Nomad2 » Tue May 09, 2017 9:28 am

My wife and I just completed the Convict 68km on the weekend. Our first time at that event. We weren't fast, neither of us a technically gifted at mountain biking but have the endurance to handle longer rides from years of road riding and touring. We absolutely loved it! The scenery was amazing and the ride was challenging enough. Can't fault the organisation, but that said, nothing went wrong to test it either.
It is worrying that these events are losing numbers. Apart from the fling, what other events are there within reach of Sydney (or Melbourne as we might be moving there next year), that are good for the likes of us (not a pure race)?

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Re: MTB Marathon events. Fading away?

Postby Duck! » Tue May 09, 2017 1:53 pm

Around Melbourne and regional Victoria there is the Victorian Endurance Series of 6-Hour races, which also include a 3-hour option. The series runs from April to November with a race each month except one (July this year I think).

For marathon format races there is the Golden Triangle Epic in Bendigo, with several distance options up to the premier 160km. The Otway Odyssey centred around Forrest in the Otway Ranges south-west of Melbourne has 100 & 50km options. Geelong MTB Club run the You Yangs Yowie 99/66/33km race and also the Gazebo 3x3 series, as the name suggests, three races of three hours duration.
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Re: MTB Marathon events. Fading away?

Postby Chuck » Sat May 13, 2017 2:29 pm

Any sport has its peaks and troughs in popularity, niche sports probably even more so. While 800+ participants is a little down on last year it is still a very good turn out imo. Hopefully it doesn't continue to trend down.
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Re: MTB Marathon events. Fading away?

Postby trailgumby » Sat May 13, 2017 4:39 pm

Nomad2 wrote:Apart from the fling, what other events are there within reach of Sydney (or Melbourne as we might be moving there next year), that are good for the likes of us (not a pure race)?

There's the Kowalski Classic in the ACT, around the forests of Kowen and Sparrow Hill. Brilliant trails. I did the last Mont 24 there end of March and the trails were a hoot, even with a fork that was partially locked out and shaking my wrists and shoulders to bits.

Martin and Marianne Wisata also run some great events under the Rocky Trail banner. They're more lap races than point-to-point, but you have the option of going for four hours or seven as a team or solo. We haven't done it this year as my usual cohort all have young kids and they've found it harder to get leave passes.

They are races, but the vibe is really good and everyone is encouraging of one another. I'm a confirmed mid-fielder; if I can crack the top half I'm happy.

My reason for continuing to race at my age is that the sports science shows that high intensity is better for maintaining cardiac capacity, muscle density, mitochondrial function, hormone levels - a massive virtual circle that endurance alone will never replicate. I intend to grow old disgracefully :twisted:

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Re: MTB Marathon events. Fading away?

Postby trailgumby » Sat May 13, 2017 4:50 pm

silentbutdeadly wrote:The only way my club could run a Gravity Enduro would be to throw the entrants out of a plane.

Too funny :lol:

Flat-track events I find harder if anything. They are relentless - no downhills on which to recover, you're on the gas the whole time. The Singleton round of the Rocky Trail Shimano GP was like a time trial. Wind it up out of the turns and try to maintain momentum. It got a bit easier as the race progressed, actually, as you got to know the lines a bit better as the race progressed and the track got swept clean. LOts of fun :D

Aaaand that reminds me. There's the Back Yamma Big Foot at Parkes. 25, 50 and 100km options. Like the Fling, the town is very supportive of the event. We car-shared and stayed overnight in town before the event. Watch out for the wildlife though. The bloody Eastern Grey roos are like random motion generators on legs. Brainless things.

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