The Willo Champions 2021 are Reece Tucknott and Samara Sheppard
Over 300 racers took part in the 11th Edition of The Willo Mountain Bike Marathon in Canberra on 28 February 2021. Hosted by Rocky Trail Entertainment the race along with its Willo Junior Development Program was set up in honour of James Williamson, a champion mountain biker from the Southern Highlands, who passed away from a heart condition while racing in South Africa over ten years ago now.
The 2021 Willo Marathon Champion is Reece Tucknott. The 26-year old won the 75km challenge on one of his Canberran home trails in 3h30:15 and said that had enjoyed Rocky Trail’s course this year at Sparrow Hill. Tucknott had put on the hurt for the final lap and put in 30 seconds on his close followers right away. He admited that he had been to being able to get away having felt not too confident earlier in the race.
“I had expected a warm day and could have probably had a second bottle with me out on course, but this was probably one of the best courses I’ve race out here – I sometimes find race courses here to be a bit tedious, but this one was a lot of fun.” - Reece Tucknott, Outright Male Champion 2021
Kyle Ward from Wollongong comes in second (+56 sec) ahead of third overall, local racer Aiden Toovey (3h31:27). Matt Dinham is in fourth (3h37:19) and Ben Henderson comes in fifth (3h45:04).
Scott Reynolds wins the 2-lap challenge in 2h30:13; Oliver Ludlam is the one-lap outright winner (1h14:01). Over 50 juniors had taken part in the 13km event with Inigo Hall from the Southern Highlands taking the win in 44:19min.
Samara Sheppard from Wollongong is our 2021 Queen of the Mountain and outright Female Champion at The Willo in Canberra! The accomplished endurance racers originally from New Zealand finished the 75km marathon in 4h12:22 ahead of Maddy Scott (5h15:01).
Samara said that she had a really good time at The Willo, "I kept up with ‘the boys’ out of the gate and then found my rhythm by the third lap.”
Samara will be taking part in the Alpenflow Epic Gran Fondo-style Ride at Mt Buller this coming weekend and said that she was looking forward to her first riding experience in the High Country with Rocky Trail.
Our King of the Mountain 2021 is Kyle Ward – second outright in the Men’s race. Kyle said that the KOM point was the section on the course to get out of the saddle and push on to see what was in the legs with the rest being a matter of trying to master the technical turns smoothly. He added that outright winner Reece Tucknott had been very strong at the start of the last lap and that he and his fellow chasers could simply not keep up. He added,
“This was a really good course, it was for everyone out there – whether you did 1, 2 or 3 laps – enough of a challenge just to make it around the course, some really rough sections but still a lot of flowy bits too”.
In the 50km challenge, local racer Suzie Kluth takes the win in 3h11:21 and the one-lap race is won by Meaghan Stanton from Bowral. In the juniors, we saw Torah Wooderson also from Bowral put in a 44:36min lap on the 13km junior course.
Continuing the James 'Willo' Williamson Legacy
Originally the event was founded by Meg Patey, Willo's Aunt, together with the family and closest friends of the late Australian Marathon National Champion James Williamson. Rocky Trail Entertainment, one of Australia's major private mountain bike events promoters, have been the custodians of the event since 2020, which had support from the Canberran Tourism Organisation, Events ACT with Visit Canberra this year too.
The company will also keep running the Willo Junior Development Program as part of the Rocky Trail Academy events, an investment in the grassroots growth of the sport, Wisata said.
"This year together with coaches from Ride Technics we put on two weekends and were able to help 17 young riders in QLD and 25 riders at Welby on the Southern Highlands to develop their bike control, knowledge of bike mechanics, training, and trail etiquette."
Wisata added that continuing the James Williamson legacy was an honour and that the event was still supported by Willo's closest friends as well has his original sponsor, Giant Bicycles Australia,
"For our team - as for the racers and sponsors like GIANT - the Willo will always be a special event that has such a tight and strong community behind it, remembering James Williamson every year. A huge thanks to Shaun Lewis, one of Willo's closest mates, for joining us at the race start for our Race Patron Meg Patey and his family."
With James' and the Willo's home trails on the Southern Highlands still not recovered from last year's bushfires the race will return to Canberra in 2022.
Rocky Trail's promise is that the Willo Junior Clinics and Marathon will always be celebrating the memory of a great man and that as part of the Rocky Trail Entertainment network the future of this inspiring event remains bright.