Scott Mini Marathon - Racing With The Young'uns! - Pedal Progression
 

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30 April 2019

Scott Mini Marathon – Racing With The Young’uns!

About a year ago at this time I was getting into training for my first solo 24 hour race. As part of the process I wanted to get some experience of long (ish) events and that’s how I ended up riding my first Scott MTB Marathon. Very pleased I did. My first impressions of the event was that it was a fun, relaxed, all inclusive vibe. Ride for a time, race it, just get round, or something in between! There are three tiers; the full marathon, half marathon and the mini (ideal for kids and families) a perfect first experience. When I rolled out from Builth Wells for the first time it was such a buzz to be surrounded by young and old and my first thought was….it’d be great to ride this with the kids.

So this year when the marathon calendar went up I  booked a spot on the mini marathon and  got to work trying to persuade my children that they would enjoy it. I was partially successful, getting my son to sign up for challenge.

The Scott MTB Marathon events span a whole weekend. Included in your entry fee (£30 for the mini, kids ride free with a paying adult) is camping and an entry to the pasta party (that’s dinner sorted!). What great value! Hope Academy also put on a kid’s skills session on the Saturday which we missed but looked like a good time! We decided to drive up late afternoon and camp overnight for the complete weekend adventure. We lift shared with Matt Jones, my son suitably impressed with his various accolades enjoyed meeting the great and the good of the UK endurance scene.

After a chilly night we got up Sunday morning to bright skies and a brisk breeze. It wasn’t warm but compared to last years sloppy trails I was thankful to be heading out across the moors with the boy in some pretty good conditions. The start at these things is good times! 400+ riders in a mass start, pros at the front cruisers at the back, everyone just pumped for a good ride. After the rider briefing and starting horn we rode out for the first 7K on tarmac surrounded by other riders. Anyone who has taken part in mass start event like this knows the great feeling that it brings, riding with my son made it all the more rewarding. He was nervous, excited and ready to give it his all.

If you’ve ridden the Builth round of this series before you’ll know the first climb… Brutal! Falling to the back of the group I decided to bring out the tow rope (highly recommended). I tugged the boy up half the hill and he rode the rest. Once on top of the moor the wind picked up and the view was amazing. Spurred on by the thought of a quality downhill we put the power down… Sort of…

Riding with kids can be challenging at times but I have learnt that the key to keeping them going is in the managing of expectations. Well, in this case my memory failed me, and my constant insistence that we were at the top seemed to keep being proved wrong! As the moorland single track and false summits kept deceiving me. I must have said, ‘don’t worry this is the high point, it’s all down hill from here’ at least 5 times before we started to consistently descend. But eventually we did, and after a fun, hairy downhill, we reached the feed station. We ate some biscuits, crisps, cake and had a motivational chat with the super positive friendly marathon support crew.

With the back of the ride broken the next section was on road for about 4Km. This route loves a little surprise though, and just as you start to see signpost back to Builth it sends you off-road again for another challenging climb (tow rope deployed). Totally worth it though for the reward of some lovely flowy single track to the finish. Rolling into the back of the Penmaenau Farm we are greeted by super supportive friendly race organisation, great food and a warm shower. Perfect.

Although these rides are very well supported and definitely worth a go they are also more than a quick whip round Ashton Court. Make sure you go prepared for a proper day out! This is what I took: Lots and lots of food, including plenty of tasty snacks for bribery! There will always be at least one feed point on the mini marathon but it might be fair way through. A first aid kit. Tool kit (be ready for punctures, chain repairs, etc). Plenty of spare clothes. You will be in the hills and the weather can change quickly. Even if it looks really nice bring warm clothes and full waterproofs for you both. If your kids loose the will to ride and it’s cold and wet at the same time things can get pretty rubbish pretty quickly!

All in all we both absolutely loved it! Here’s 5 reasons you should try it out!

  1. Adventure and challenge.
  2. It’s great to push yourself with your kids.
  3. Feels really really well organised and safe for a first time experience.
  4. Super friendly support and staff crew.
  5. Amazing value for money. We paid £30 for race entry, got free entry for my son, camping, 2 race goody bags, 2 plates of pasta, 2 T-Shits!

Next event is in Llandovery Wales, 25th and 26th of May.

Ollie Cain

Written by:

Ollie Cain