Toowoomba will host the inaugural Australian Marathon Mountain Bike Championships this Sunday. Over a 1000 competitors from Perth in the west to Cairns in the north as well as New Zealand and Canada will compete over the weekend. Most will line up on Sunday to compete in the challenging 100 km Flight Centre Classic with a chance to wear the green and gold. Others will start at Mt Sylvia for the 50km Pure Blonde Half Epic.
The event starts at the Preston Peak Winery just south of Toowoomba and follows parts of the Bicentennial Trail finishing at Peppers Hidden Vale resort. Each competitor must pass through three checkpoints during the race and navigate some very hilly terrain.
With the first ever national jersey in the marathon distance up for grabs, racing will be fierce and the race record of 3 hours 45 min set by Murray Spink (Dingley, VIC) last year could be shattered. Currently only six other riders can lay claim to a sub-four hour including Shaun Lewis, Mark Frendo Craig Gordon, Perren Delacour, James Williamson and Richard Vollebrecht.
Spink raced only one week ago at the World Mountain Bike Championships in Rotorua finishing 45th but could be challenged by 2004 winner, Perth's Tim Bennett or Ironman legend from the Gold Coast, Guy Andrews .
Melbourne's Commonwealth Games rider, Emma Colson, will return to racing alongside fellow Victorian and national Short Course Cross Country Champion, Tory Thomas. A bout of flu could affect Queensland Cross Country Champion, Imogen Smith's chances of improving on her second place against last year's winner Narelle Ash also from Brisbane. Return of Canadian and first Epic women's winner, Emily Miazga to the event could see a battle for the finish line.
Triathlon World Champion Miles Stewart will race the Pure Blonde Half Epic. This year there are four out of the six previous winners trying to repeat their success.
Racing begins at 7.30 am on Sunday.
Male: 1st Murray Spink, 2nd Shaun Lewis, 3rd Mark Frendo
Female 1st Narelle Ash, 2nd Imogen Smith, 3rd Elin Hedstrom
Male: 1st Tim Bennett, 2nd Tony Mann, 3rd Peter Herzig ,
Female 1st Jill Burston, 2nd Lee Schultz, 3rd Narelle Ash
Male: 1st Mark Frendo 2nd Dan San Martin, 3rd Roger Hawley
Female 1st Emily Miazga, 2nd Trish Pullos, 3rd Collette Hallman