Let’s start with how it ended.
About four years ago I floated an idea on the now defunct On-One forum. I’d just done the first Twentyfour 12 and was slightly peeved to see that it was moving to a venue further south as Mountain Mayhem had done a few years earlier. I was moaning because I didn’t fancy the drive home after a weekend of no sleep. So, I posted a thread saying something along the lines of “Why are there no events in Manchester?” hoping that a race organiser would see it and immediately stage one about a mile away from where I lived. In actual fact I got reply from a bloke who lived round the corner that I had only met once previously, who said “You live round the corner from me. Let’s do it ourselves.” And with that Hit the North was born.
The bloke from round the corner turned out to be Jason “Terrahawk” Miles and together we became the Morecambe and Wise of moutainbike race organisation. Jason had some contacts who got roped in too. Vince “RammyRunner” Ashton and Warren “OriginalPunkRockDad” Edmond, who between them knew how to stage athletics events and how to put together a website and develop a brand image. Now we were four.
Together we staged Hit the North In July 08, a massively ambitious 12 hour bike race for 450 riders. We followed that with a couple of MTB / CX cross over events in February 09 and 10 and finished off with HtN2 in July 10. By the time we got to the latest event we were down to just myself and Jason with the other two having a reduced, but still vital, input in the background.
HtN2 was brilliant. Everything went to plan and everybody had a good time. All the lessons that we had learned from the first three events made the fourth relatively straight forward to organise properly (don’t hire toilets and showers off arse-holes/don’t wrap barrier tape round trees more than once/don’t hire numpties to do your first aid/don’t set a course that will degenerate into a swamp/hire a head marshal who knows what he is doing… the list goes on). The problem was getting people to enter. For whatever reason it just wouldn’t sell and this combined with the amount of time that I was spending when I should have been working or with my wife and kids is the reason why I’m taking a back seat. Not an easy decision to make.
I had a long walk along the track in the rain picking up signs and barrier tape after the last race which gave me time to think it through. HtN has been hugely important to me and I’m extremely proud of what we’ve achieved. I’ve met some friends for life and it has taught me that if you think big enough and are bloody minded you can achieve anything. Last Sunday if you saw a man in the woods with a bulging bin bag and a tear in his eye it was me… or somebody off to bury bits of his wife.
Jason also had a think in the rain and decided to carry on. Hit the North will be back again next year. Maybe, when the kids are a bit older and I’ve finished decorating he’ll have me back.
The end and also a beginning.