The second James Williamson Enduro Challenge was meant to be held in March but was postponed due to rain in the Southern Highlands of NSW. (March marks the anniversary of James’s death in March 2010, in South Africa.) The new date was set as May 13th.
On May 13th, the sun shone, but a freezing wind shipped through Wingello. The trails were in immaculate condition and apart from the wind, riding conditions were perfect. May 13th was also Mothers’ Day which kept a few riders away, despite the offer of a free coffee for all mothers!
Six hundred riders registered for this event, and about five hundred turned up. The race has a great format of 25KM laps, so that spectators get to see the riders each time they come through the Event Centre. Categories include 25KM, 50KM or 75KM loops….with a 13KM loop for the under thirteens. Podium presentations were held swiftly and promptly as riders came in, providing constant momentum and entertainment at the Event Centre. All first place getters in the 75KM and 50KM categories received specially made Willo trophies, designed by Niki Fisher. Other prize getters received great products, all generously donated by sponsors Giant, Shimano, Adidas, JetBlack, Powerbar and many others.
Dylan Cooper won the Open Male 75KM, with Mark Tupalski second and Ondrej Slezak third. The Open Female 75KM was won by Ria Johansen, with Lana Moy second and Bethany Thompson third.
It is now two years since James passed away. Obviously, the first Willo Enduro (held in March 2011), was always going to be a hard one, as James’s death was still a shock and his presence and memory resounded so strongly for friends, family and the mountain bike world. Another year on, James’s memory and presence was still there, but emotions had softened and organisers succeeded in creating a well organised event, which in itself, reflects James passion and commitment to mountain biking and mirrors his enjoyment of all the events that he participated in.
All prize getters also received a copy of Enduro James Williamson, the published collection of editorials and articles written by James in his role as editor of Enduro Magazine over several years. This is a sure way to ensure that James’s legacy lives on in words, for the many who never knew James personally. As well, all proceeds of the race are managed by the James Williamson Enduro Fund and are put back into the development of junior mountain bikers, with an annual training camp held in November each year. James loved his riding, loved meeting people, and loved attending mountain bike events, all over the country and all over the world. The Willo Enduro provides a way to ensure that his legacy and memory lives on.
Meg Patey, Event Organiser
James Williamson Enduro Challenge