The NSW South Coast can be an unforgiving place at times, the local weather causing more than a few rescheduled events including this one, originally in August, with flooding rains and closed roads putting paid to that. But the Shoalhaven thoroughly redeemed itself by turning on perfect conditions over the weekend. A small amount of midweek rain only helped to enhance grip in the trails, lovingly maintained by the South Coast United Mountainbikers club.

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Torq/Merida’s Josh Battye hammers the final berm corner on the way to overall victory | Ian Moses IC Photography

Being the third and final round, series podiums would also be up for grabs ensuring that the racing would be highly competitive, and of the 240 riders entered, 26% were women, a record female participation rate for a Mountain Bike race in NSW. Bolstering the number of women were the 8 riders of the Chocolate Foot Women’s development team. Featuring 7 new riders to the team, it was for some their first ever mountain bike race – the first of many to come as they build their skills, fitness and confidence over the next year.

The opening laps were fast with the Torq/Merida trio taking control at the front of the race and dominating the Male 3’s category, behind them a surprisingly fresh looking Ed McDonald was also looking similarly in control of the solo male category. Having contested the 24 hour Solo National Championships only a fortnight prior, most riders would still be recovering, but Ed was in fine form, even battling for the lead into the first singletrack section.

Chocolate Foot Racing’s Mel Nuttall focused as she takes on the rock garden | Ian Moses IC Photography

Chocolate Foot Racing’s Mel Nuttall focused as she takes on the rock garden | Ian Moses IC Photography

In the 4 hour categories notable results included elite level road racer Darcy Ellerm continuing to impress on the dirt, the New Zealander taking the win in the Open Male solo category. Fellow Kiwi and Chocolate Foot Women’s development team rider Mel Nuttall recorded a very solid win in the Open Female. Junior rider Blake Shergold put in a performance that would have seen him come 7th in the Open Male category, marking him as a big talent for the future.

The 7 hour categories featured some great battles, some lasting until the final lap. It came right down to the wire in the Female Pairs, Emily Cunningham and Emma Bussell formed a substantial lead while there was an epic tussle for the minor steps of the podium, Melinda Allen and Erica Galea regularly swapping places with Kelly Mapleston and Kerrie Hammond. Galea and Mapleston the final riders on course, Galea held a slim advantage to the end.

Solo Male series champion Ed McDonald, making winning look easy | Ian Moses IC Photography

Solo Male series champion Ed McDonald, making winning look easy | Ian Moses IC Photography

Other results included Ed McDonald taking his second win of the series in the Open Male Solo, the Female Solo won by Leah Childs. Torq/Merida won the Male Threes and logged the most laps of any team on the day with 15 laps in just over 7 hours and just behind them was the very promising Junior development team of Harry Watson, Riley King and Sarah I’ons. The team came second overall and I’ons recorded the three fastest female laps of the day.

A very notable mention goes to the Mixed Pairs team of Doug and Danielle Pollock. While they didn’t have much competition within their category, they only know how to race one way, and that’s at 100%. Their result would have placed them on the podium of the Masters Pairs or 4th in the Male Pairs and unsurprisingly they won the Mixed Pairs category for the series overall.

Competitors were rewarded with over $18,000 in cash and prizes from Finish Line, SRAM, Rockshox, Avid, Truvativ, Hammer Nutrition, James Estate, Aussie Butt Cream, and Mountain Biking Australia Magazine. The outstanding success of this event wouldn’t be possible without the kind assistance of these great sponsors, as well as the Shoalhaven City Council, Shoalhaven Water and the South Coast United Mountainbikers.

The Finish Line Singletrack Mind Series will be back in 2016. Dates and venues to be announced soon.

For more information and detailed results go to: www.chocolatefoot.com.au