The Willo MTB Marathon is one of the top mountain bike marathons on the Australian cycling racing calendars and an annual reminder to all riders of the joys of mountain biking as well as the impact that James Williamson had on the sport. One of the top elite mountain bikers from the Southern Highlands, James tragically died at an international event over a decade ago and this event was founded in memory of him and this year the 10th Anniversary Edition will be held at Sparrow Hill in Kowen Forest in Canberra on 1 March 2020. Originally the event had been planned to take place at the mountain bike trails of the Wingello State Forest, however, those have been badly affected by the recent bushfires and are not safe to be used yet.
For the first time it is the crew from Rocky Trail Entertainment who will host the event under the patronage of the Willo founder Meg Patey, James’ aunt, who will be at the start line among his closest friends and an estimated 400 competitors from all over Australia.
The lap-based classic marathon race will feature the popular mountain bike network in the Sparrow Hill on a 22km circuit. There are various distance classifications across adult and junior age groups – for many young athletes this race will be the opportunity to experience their first thrill of racing. Proceeds from the event support junior development with annual training camps held. The event has been known for its friendly vibe encouraging a strong sense of camaraderie amongst all riders. It attracts elite riders as well as riders from all levels and ages. Event Manager Bob Morris said that the challenges included one, two or three laps of the full course with a special 13km course laid out for juniors.
Racers to watch in the top marathon distance of three laps include:
- Brendan Johnston, Australian National Marathon Champion from Canberra
- Gwynn McLeod, 2013 World 24hr MTB Masters Champion
- Karl Michelin-Beard, pro-road cyclist, Canberra
- Declan Prosser – Multiple times Junior and U23 State champion, Canberra
- Reece Tucknott – top 5 in 2018 National Road Championships, Canberra
- Josh Carlson – one of Australia’s top enduro racers – 10th overall, 2016 Enduro World Series, Wollongong NSW
- Paul van der Ploeg – multiple national champion, Winner World Cup Sprint Eliminator in England 2011, Winner XCE World Championship in South Africa 2013, Mt Beauty VIC
- Andrew Blair – top 5 in 2017 Marathon National Championships
- Zoe Cuthbert – one of Australia’s top female juniors – National Women’s U19 Cycling Champion, 5th in World XC short-course Championships
Competitors can still sign up until Friday before race day, 1 March. Race start is from 7:45am for juniors and 9:30am for the main field. For more information visit jameswilliamson.com.au or please contact Event Managers Jo Parker on 0424 955 332 or Bob Morris on 0458 299 558.
2019 Elite Female podium: 66KM Female Elite Ella Bloor (5th) Jenny Blair (4th) (absent) Kim Willocks (3rd) Emma Viotto (2nd) Bec McConnell (1st):
2019 Elite Male podium: 66KM Male Elite Sebastian Jayne (5th) Tristan Ward (4th) Reece Tucknott (3rd) Brendan Johnston (2nd) Daniel McConnell (1st):
Brendan Johnston with 2019 Elite winner, Daniel McConnell:
Willo Junior Squad
- Venue and Location: Sparrow Hill MTB Trails in Kowen Forest (turn off from Kings Highway into Sparrow Hill Road)
- Google Maps: https://jameswilliamson.
- Schedule: Race start is from 7:45am for juniors and 9:30am for the main field
- Full schedule: https://
- Rider briefing: https://
jameswilliamson.com.au/ updates/rider-briefing-willo- 2020/
- About James: https://
- About the event: https://