When race organiser and ex-serviceman Joe Killner came up with an idea about putting on a race in aid of Help for Heroes
, not even he could have imagined how successful it would be in bringing everyone together - despite the glorious English summer rain - to go full on flat out to raise money for a charity that supports injured servicemen and women and their families. We were there to capture all the action for such a great cause.
Sunday's race was about raising money rather than beating the clock and it brought riders and spectators from all over the South of England to the Bull Track
in Crowborough, East Sussex.
The charity Help for Heroes was launched in 2007 in order to provide direct, practical support to wounded injured and sick UK Armed Forces personnel and their families. All the funds raised to date are either allocated or spent on the direct, practical support of those wounded in the current conflicts. H4H has funded a variety of projects including the £8m Rehabilitation Complex at Headley Court, a new £3.5m treatment centre for Combat Stress, adaptive adventure training through the Battle Back programme and the creation of a £6m Quick Reaction Fund to support individuals in need.
Alvar Coppard and his trail building crew had been busy sculpting new lines from the top of the hill all the way down to the wooded section at the bottom, and Joe and many others from the South East MTB scene had been drumming up support and sponsors to get the race some incredible prizes for both the raffle and the winners.
Starting on what should have been an unusually sunny day, those who camped in the field overnight woke to hazy rain and a lot of the rippers wanting their parents to get their bikes ready so they could get cracking with practising their race runs.
As riders kept arriving, it was clear that time would only allow two-timed runs instead of the usual three, but that didn't disappoint anyone as it meant more time to buy raffle tickets for a chance to win Danny Hart's signed Fox Racing kit and a bunch of signed posters, pairs of rare Steve Peat signed Marsh Guards or a signed Shimano Saint crank arm literally ripped off Gee Atherton's bike to donate, once he found out about the race.
For the winners of the race categories, there were countless prizes donated by local and national bike shops, component manufacturers, distributors, bike-specific clothing companies, skills coaching companies, a beauty salon and many more.
There were riders from all ages, and it was noticeable that this race brought in more of the younger generation which is really what grassroots racing, and the venue is all about. The Bull Track is a pretty special place, and we're all pretty lucky to have Alvar and his builders providing us with fun tracks for all levels of ability.
At the end of the day and with all the monies counted, the event managed to raise around £3,000 for Help for Heroes, but there is still plenty of time to donate online, so please dig deep for this very worthy cause!
Thanks to all the event sponsors: Monster Energy
, Drift Cycles
, Kali Protectives
, Exempt Clothing
, Ana Nichoola
, Tenn Outdoors
, Deers Leap Bikes
, BTR Fabrications
, Dees Cycles
, Rock Steady MTB Skills
, Ben Deakin Coaching
, Crank Cycles
, Whisper Bikes
, Chain Reaction Cycles
, Sal'on Wheels
, Danny Hart, Gee Atherton, Steve Peat and Mikrotime
for timing equipment.