On the October long weekend the QLD XCO State titles were held in Mackay.
For the second year in a row, Mackay won the rights to host the Queensland XCO State Titles. Hosting big events like this are a real honour for regional towns, and after the success of 2016, riders from around Queensland were happy to go back.
Mackay and District MTB Club have an excellent venue just outside of town, with plenty of trail built specifically for cross-country events, and facilities that provide room for camping, an event centre, and two lots of amenities with clean, hot showers and toilets. All these things aren't available at every mountain bike event, so it's a nice change to have them on hand.
The course in Mackay has been built on feedback from riders from the club who race the National XCO Series, and the local trail builders make sure the trails have the right features to test local riders, and build skills.
RAcing was actually split across two days, with U11 and U13 kids on Saturday afternoon, with all other categories split across 3 key race starts (with 30 second waves) on Sunday.
About 35 women took to the trails on Sunday morning across all the grades, from U15 through to Masters 7. Imogen Smith travelled up from Brisbane for the event and won the Elite women's race.
The U15 and U17 men's events were pretty frantic, with some very fast racing. Jonathon Dodds took the win in U17 after Zach Larsson had lead for much of the race.
In the elite men, Nick Pedler rode a strong race, and was alone from the first start straight. Although chasing from starting 30 seconds behind was Junior XCO World Champion Cameron Wright, who won the U19 race.
While the course was fun and demanding, with a number of built features and challenging natural terrain, there were A, B and even C lines that made it highly accessible for a lot of riders. But probably the best thing to come out of the weekend was seeing how well the community in Mackay got behind the event. Local accommodation operaters offered packages for racers, countless businesses backed the event, and those on the podium in the adult grades even won bottles of rum liquer from Sarina Sugar Shed!
The National XCO Series is set for 2018, we'd be really happy to see it visit Mackay if timing worked with the wet season. With an airport 25 minutes from the race venue, or 12 minutes from town, it's readily accessible and has all the facilities required, and even better than some of the current venues used. We'd happily visit again, especially given some of the plans Mackay have for mountain biking along the Pioneer Valley. Watch this space!
All the images in the gallery are via Element Photo and Video. You can see the complete gallery online, and buy the images if you spot yourself!