Ireland prepares to host European marathon mountain bike championships

The European Marathon Mountain Bike Championships will roll into Ballyhoura in the southwest of Ireland on the weekend of the June 14-15 for two days of racing on some of the most picturesque trails in the country.

The main event on Sunday will see the elite men tackle a course of 93km with 2,199 metres of climbing while the elite women's field will take on a course of 75km and 1,925 metres of climbing. Riders will set off in a mass start with the first to cross the finish line being crowned the European Champion.

2014 will be the first time Ireland has hosted a UCI Championship event, and amateur racers will be able to get a taste on the Saturday before some of the top professionals in the world compete for the European marathon champions' jerseys on the Sunday. Saturday's support races are categorized into expert, masters, vet and classic vet and will feature a course of 75km and 1,925 metres of climbing. There is also a junior and fun race on 25km of trails.

Inspired by the location and unique heritage of Ireland, the course is clover leaf in shape and all senior categories will ride through the start/finish area three times during their respective races making it perfect for spectators. The course is a mix of wide forest roads, trail centre singletrack and natural technical features.

Seefin Mountain at 528 metres is the highest point on the course, towering over the mountain bike trail centre below. The first man and first woman to the summit in the elite races will claim a share of a €528 cash prize fund adding an extra incentive. While it is not as high as an Alp, it is certainly as steep!

The Rocky Mayhem Music Festival takes place the same weekend as the event in nearby Kilfinane village. No stranger to MTB events, Kilfinane has hosted the Singlespeed World Championships in 2011 and the International Bluegrass Enduro Tour in 2013 as well as numerous domestic races in cross country, enduro and marathon including the Irish Marathon National Championships in 2013.

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