Race Report: Jason English and Gwynn McLeod defend Jetblack 24 Hour Solo titles in Lithgow

The JetBlack 24 Hour with its JetBlack 6+6 Hour offspring took place at Rydal Showgrounds near Lithgow on 23+24 March 2019. More than 300 race competitors from all over NSW and the ACT raced in teams of up to 6 in the 24 Hour competition and up to 4 in the 6+6 Hour event, clocking in almost 2,900 laps and recording more than 27,500 racing kilometers over the weekend.

Title defender Jason English and Gwynn McLeod (middle) flanked by Jetblack Team racers Brad Weston (left) and Owen Gordon (right). Photo: Rocky Trail

In the men’s 24 hour solo competition, it was the race favourite and multiple 24-hour Solo World Champion, Jason English from Newcastle who claimed his eight race title ahead of Ben Jacka from Heddon Greta in the Hunter Valley. Jonny Harrison from Manly Vale in Sydney came in third overall. In the women’s solo 24-hour race, Gwynne McLeod from Canberra defended her title overall ahead of Blue Mountain’s Catherine Wood who won the Master classification ahead of Claudia Fiess from Sydney. In the 6+6 Hour competition, Hagen Ganahl and Catherine McKenzie from Canberra were the solo winners in Lidsdale State Forest.

The Jetblack 24 Hour once again transformed the Rydal Showgrounds in Lithgow into a vivid mountain bike event centre and tent village over the weekend with over 400 racers and event visitors injecting more than $250,000 into the local economy. Entering its second decade the 11th edition proved that the 24-hour racing concept was more and more becoming a social affair, said Event Director, Juliane Wisata from organisers at Rocky Trail Entertainment.

Mayor Ray Thompson officiating the race start.

“More than a third of all racers competed in the teams of six-classification – and whilst everyone from solo to team participant races hard and gives into this unique endurance challenge, it’s all about that fun weekend away with fellow mountain bikers, family and friends. Our event home in Lithgow is the ideal venue for that. We have this beautiful open space at Rydal Showgrounds, right on the doorstep of Lidsdale State Forest”, Wisata explained.

Owen Gordon (far left) and Matt Howell (far right) take out the 6+6H and 24H team line-honours. Photo: OuterImage.com.au

The 9.5km race track was set out together with the local Central Tablelands Mountain Bike Club and more than 30 local riders took part in the race. The outright 24-hour Solo Champion Jason English completed 41 laps and a distance of close to 400km in 23:20:30. Of the race he said that he had strong competition from Ben Jacka who persevered through the night and finished on 40 laps together with the third overall Jonny Harrison on 39 laps after 23:27:26. With half an hour of race time the three athletes convened at the timing hub together with race officials and agreed to not go out again, thus finalising the result.

Central Tablelands MTB Club president leading the charge for the local riders. Photo: OuterImage.com.au

“I had a few problems with digestion during the night”, admitted Jason English explaining that he had eaten too much too fast, which caused him stomach pain for at least a quarter of the race. Often so comfortably in the lead that he is able to stop racing by mid morning at a 24-Hour event, English had only one lap more than his closest rival Ben Jacka all Sunday. This didn’t go unnoticed by his competitors.

Jason English racing through the night. Photo: OuterImage.com.au

“I noticed that he was struggling a bit, but thought a man of his caliber is going to make sure that I’m going to have to pull out, but I finished this race. So I’m really proud to say that today I made Jason English do the whole race”, Ben Jacka admitted.

Jetblack 24 Hour Solo Winner: Jason English. Photo: OuterImage.com.au
Ben Jacka. Photo: OuterImage.com.au
Jonny Harrison. Photo: OuterImage.com.au

In the women’s title defender Gwynn McLeod had a tough job at her hands as well with Catherine Wood taking the lead early on and setting a fast pace.

“Those first few hours were really tough and we were wheel on wheel for quite some time,” McLeod recounted her race. “At some point I overtook Catherine and didn’t realise – probably in transition – thinking she was still ahead. I punched out three really fast laps trying to chase her and most of that lead I then kept through the night and was able to take it across the finish line,” the newly appointed Rocky Trail Women’s Ambassador said, claiming 33 laps in 22:46:46.

Gwynn McLeod racing to win her second Jetblack 24 Hour Solo title. Photo: OuterImage.com.au

“24 hours in the saddle is hard work, but all the help I get from the pits makes it easier for me to commit to each lap and not be tempted to stop. The atmosphere and the people at these races is just amazing and is one of the reasons I just keep coming back”, Gwynn added.

Catherine Wood finished with 31 laps in 24:01:10 ahead of Claudia Fiess who crossed the line just ahead of here at 24:00:47 with 28 laps.

Catherine Wood in strong form. Photo: OuterImage.com.au

The event had offered a 6+6 Hour racing option as well, which gave racers the opportunity to rest overnight – Hagen Ganahl (21 laps) and Catherine McKenzie (14 laps) from Canberra took out the solo wins in the general classification. Notably, local rider Josh Corcoran from Bathurst finished in eighth in the 6+6 Hour solo event winning the Elite classification with 18 laps by just shy of two minutes ahead of Jetblack racer Scott Reynolds.

Catherine McKenzie racing for Pedal4Pierce. Photo: OuterImage.com.au

Two Jetblack Racing Teams took the overall line-honours: with 51 laps in the 24 Hour event the M2O Sixes clocked in the most laps of the weekend and in the 6+6 Hour event the Jetblack Pairs Team of Owen and Craig Gordon achieved 28 laps.

Hagen Ganahl. Photo: OuterImage.com.au

The Jetblack 24 Hour will return to Lithgow in March 2020 for its 12th edition.

Photos: OuterImage.com.au


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