In 2011 this was a pipe dream and some deep thoughts

In 2012 the first Manx 100 came about.  The route had been put together on a kitchen table with beer and probably a take out between Nigel and Guy.  Guy was more interested in competing so it was left with Nigel to organise.  A 100 mile point to point event created.  A GPX route and 100 arrows was thought to be sufficient.  11 riders turned up at the point of Ayre (the northern most point on the Island) and headed south.    6 finished, the last taking 14 hours to complete the route, finishing at the Sound, the Southern most point on the Isle of Man.

The enthusiasm that these 6 had for the event and of course, the fact that there was only a 50% completion rate meant that Nigel realised the event was possible of the right stature for what he wanted – the hardest single point to point mountain bike race in the UK.

During the remaining part of 2012 and into 2013 Nigel stalked other events in the UK and “discovered” what we now know as a Cycling legend – Richard Rothwell.  A quick set of messages, some telephone calls and over he came, with the promise of an article in Privateer.  Just this one man and his awesome article in said magazine, made a massive change to the whole event and really it can be said that without Richard turning up, having a great time and enthusing to all of his compatriots we probably wouldn’t be where we are today.

He wrote a fantastic article in privateer (now sadly no more, but the awesome Cranked has taken up the gap) and this is from his personal blog – “on the last weekend of July I travelled to the Isle of Man for my first ever visit and to complete in a little-known race, The Manx  100. 100 miles and 15,000 ft of climbing. Not a trail centre to be seen. Whilst it’s impossible to define what mountain biking riding and racing “is”, this ride and race epitomised what I personally love about the activity.  Riding a mountain bike across big wild landscapes.  Climbing big hills and flying down the other side.”

Needless to say, the read in Privateer was enjoyable, with beautiful pictures and heartfelt writing.

MANX 100

History

With 16 riders in the 100 mile event 2012 was to be the last time the original point to point route was to be run.

After quite a lot of arm twisting and persuasion, Nigel had relented during the year and 2013 was the first time a 100km event was run with 5 riders entered.

With Richard’s words flying across the social media ether 2014 was starting out with a “rush” of entries.

It quickly became apparent that a point to point event was becoming too much of a challenge in relation to transporting riders to the start and back from the finish back into Douglas.  A wholesale change had to come about.  Back to the kitchen table.

The Isle of Man is an awesome place.  Finding out the right people to talk to is easy and decisions can be made swiftly and resolutely.  Talking to government departments can not normally be described as such, but within a short period of time we had secured the use of the TT grandstand, had police approval for an escort and traffic light switching through a small village and the new, now standard, route was born.

Luckily, with nearly 16,000 feet of climbing.  Same start time, 06:30, same brutality, but with a one single lap route, starting and finishing at the iconic TT Grandstand.  Nigel’s requirement still met.  With vigour.

2014 ended up with 37 tackling the 100 mile route and 9 taking on the 100km challenge.  This year we actually had a 3 way battle through out most of the day and some serious back office conversations of what to do if it was a sprint finish, which luckily wasn’t needed.

2015 – tweaks and more arrows en route

2015 saw around 800 arrows out on the course, with electronic timing from manx timing solutions, a ripple of ground swell of support from Mountain Bikers and some further ideas being planned.   40 riders tackled the event which started in OK weather but finished in torrential rain, 15 tackling the 100km event.  This year we had two cases of hypothermic riders and blog posts that were as funny as they were heart wrenching – “I passed a rider on his hands and knees searching for jelly babies in a muddy puddle”.  We await Snow.

2016 – 64 riders started the 100 mile event. 19 riders took on the 100k. The event seemed to be starting to attract awesome endurance and ultra-marathon riders.  Exactly what Nigel was hoping for..

A new innovation was introduced for 2016.  The Manx 50. This event took in the final 50km of the 100 mile event.  It still isn’t easy.  Its as tough as old boots. You can imagine Nigel’s anguish at this point.  It was well supported with 33 entered in the first year.

Meetings, conversations, and more meetings.  The result – in 2017 the event was chosen to be the British Cycling National MTB Marathon Event.

However, amongst this amazing news was also some bad news for Nigel.  BC refused the event to be run in its original guise, stating that 100 miles was too long.  A discussion over the fact their own rules only state the event should have a minimum distance of 80km was dismissed and so the event was run over the 100km “short course”.

With the additional exposure this garnered the event saw 58 tackle the 100 mile event, 72 on the 100km event and 42 on the ’50.

From humble beginnings of 11 riders, to 172 riders 7 years later it has been an amazing ride.

For 2018 once again, the event has been chosen by British Cycling to be the National Champs.  A rare accolade.  The future is being carefully considered and planned.  Where will 2019 and further take the Manx 100 ?

And a final quote from Richard after his 2015 event –

“We all met up for post race pizzas and some stunned recollections of a truly ridiculous day. Would you remember just another woodland singletrack lapped race ?  Or would this day be etched in your memories as one of the toughest, most extreme, most unique race you’ve ever taken part in?  ENTER THE MANX 100”

And whilst the above only mentions Nigel, the back office crew can not be praised or thanked enough with hair brained ideas, more work to be done, it’s a year long process that means there is never a rest.

So in alphabetical order the crew – Briony Morgan, Dave Kelly, Gemma Kelly, Lisa Morris and Scott Morgan.  They all keep Nigel on a short leash but clearly not short enough.  Who thought  a single lap, 100 mile race was just what the mountain biking world needed….. All decisions made democratically by Nigel J