The Willo returns to Wingello in 2022

We can finally confirm that The Willo Marathon will return to its original home in the Wingello State Forest on the Southern Highlands on 6 March 2022 and online registration is open!

The Willo is one of the top mountain bike events on the Australian cycling racing calendars, held in memory of Southern Highlands local rider and mountain bike champion James Williamson.

Since 2011, this race has been celebrating the life of mountain bike champion James Williamson, who died in his sleep from an undiagnosed heart condition in March the year before, whilst competing in an international MTB stage race overseas.

Originally based on the Southern Highlands in NSW and James’ home track at Wingello, the Willo had a 2 year stint in Canberra but will now again return to it’s original home. The Wingello trails were badly damaged from the 2019-20 summer bushfires but the local club, State Forest and volunteer groups have done an amazing job bringing it back.

Race format: lap-based marathon racing

This will be a lap-based classic marathon race featuring a race track loaded with single trail goodness and fast gravel road sections. We will be able to use a lot of the restored original trails at Wingello and for this first edition back will be still utilising some of the firetrail network as well, as the restoration process of the trail network is still in progress. Bringing the race “back home” will not only lift the spirits of the local mountain biking community but also inject some trail maintenance funds from Rocky Trail Entertainment, whose policy it has been over the years to be supporting local hosting clubs and riding groups. Rocky Trail’s Juliane Wisata said that the team was looking forward to relaunching the event in Wingello.

“We have been working in a rather chaotic events environment since early 2020 and bringing this event back to Wingello is such an uplift for us – it almost feels like we’re turning a corner, actively restoring the original event”, she said. “It encompasses so many elements of our business from the junior grassroots development to being an active supporter of the mountain biking community and the professional racing and event organisation that we are proud of and that this event has been renowned for too.”

Wisata added that since its inception, Rocky Trail Entertainment had provided over half a million dollars back into the local clubs and venues of their events and that she was looking forward to being able to supporting the Wingello trail network being restored to all its former glory and more.

The event has become an annual reminder to all riders of the joys of mountain biking as well as the impact James had on the sport. A great crowd of Elite racers and passionate mountain bikers is expected to line-up at the start line at Wingello. Reece Tucknott from Canberra is expected to defend his 2021 outright title.

Reece Tucknott, The Willo Elite Men’s Winner 2021.

The race circuit is a 20-25km loop and there are various distance classifications across adult and junior age groups, plus fun kids races for little riders in the event centre. The Willo awards overall KOM (King of the Mountain) and QOM (Queen of the Mountain) classifications to the fastest male and female on the main climb.

QOM Samara Sheppard & KOM Kyle Ward in 2021

Every race participant will be instantly taken by the relaxed and friendly nature of the race, which in fact does reflect on James and the camaraderie that mountain biking brings for all.

Online registration is open now via the Rocky Trail Entertainment website.

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