Maiden Race

The tale of Mark Beaumont’s GBduro campaign, his first ever race

Feature type Video

Read time 6 min read

Published Dec 10, 2021

Photographer Markus Stitz

Base editorial team
BASE editorial team BASE writers and editors who live and breathe adventure every day. We love adventure storytelling as much as we love adventure itself.

GBduro is no ordinary bike race. Reminiscent of early editions of the Tour de France, where racers rode huge non-stop stages, before regrouping for the next mass start, this all terrain event tests riders from start to finish over 2000km of gravel and road from Lands’ End to John O’Groats.

In 2021, the race saw 250 hopeful competitors apply for just 60 places. Yet by the time the racers left Wales on stage 2, over half the field had given up. By the finish post in the very north of Scotland, only 14 racers survived.

Despite a career of world-firsts in endurance cycling expeditions, Mark Beaumont, the current round-the-world record holder, had never competed in anything other than an individual pursuit. This summer though, for the first time in his career, he entered a race. And, you guessed it, that race was never going to be your average bike race.

In August 2021, Mark Beaumont found himself on the start line in Lands’ End in Cornwall with the the length of Britain ahead of him.

This is truly one of the most punishing rides on bike, body and mind.  There were no easy miles across such relentless terrain

This is truly one of the most punishing rides on bike, body and mind. There were no easy miles across such relentless terrain,’ says Mark. ‘Just finishing was a victory because the person you are really racing is yourself.  And to finish first? First you must finish.’

No stranger to sleep deprivation and turning himself inside-out on a road bike, Beaumont was confident he had the engine, but it was the technical riding across the Snowdonia National Park, the Yorkshire Dales and the Scottish Highlands that would prove to be the real test.

Angus Young, who finished 2nd in 2018 and scratched whilst leading in 2019, was desperately unlucky for a third time.  He was the clear winner for the first 3 stages, but with 200km from the finish, disaster struck with a terminal mechanical issue, handing victory to Mark who had consistently ridden into second during each stage.

This story, plus the wider GBduro ethos of no flying, leave no trace and no outside assistance, is told through Maiden Race, shot by film-maker Markus Stitz.

‘I wanted this documentary to show the beauty and diversity of bikepacking racing,’ explains Markus. ‘The gritty moments when the going gets almost impossible, but also the grandeur of being outside in occasions that make up for the hard work. The early morning sunrise, the rides into the sunset, the anguish of wondering whether to stop for a few hours. The best moments happened in the most remote places, and those moments are captured here to tell the story of GBduro 2021.”

For more on Mark’s first race campaign, head over to the Mark Beaumont GBduro interview where you’ll also find his komoot collection.

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