Race Report: PMBA Enduro Llangollen

NewsPosted on 17th August 2023

Last weekend saw the Hope PMBA Enduro series return to the epic hill of One Giant Leap at Llangollen. The only race series in the UK that hosts races in all three nations, England, Scotland and Wales. It’s a great race location as this year 4 out of the 5 stages finished in the bottom field, right next to the HQ and camping area. This meant riders could carry less and pop by their bases for mechanicals and to refuel on hydration and carbs.

Last weekend was a 2 day event, with practice on the Saturday and full on racing on the Sunday. Previously this has been a similar format of racing or a one day mash up event. Kev’s vision for this venue has always been very solid. Llangollen is famed for it’s steep hill and full on downhill racing. But with the help of his team and Martin, the legend who owns and runs the bike park, new lines are always getting cut in to give the tracks a more “enduro” feel. This includes steep chutes, tight steep corners, jumps and drops with a mix of some hard on the pedals uphill sections, which also included a timed uphill straight in order to spot if any of the ebikes had chips or speed restrictions disabled.

Beartrax were available all weekend for bike fixes and advice

I don’t think anyone can disagree that this summer has been pretty grim with the weather. This time last year I was writing this race report with heat stroke and sunburn, since the race had been on the hottest days ever recorded. This year was very different, however, I think we could all agree we were extremely lucky with the weather. Leading up to the race the weather had been mostly dry, windy and warm. Over the race weekend there was a few short showers, but nothing too monsoon like. The small amount of rain did mean some of the trails were pretty slicky and tricky to negotiate, but who doesn’t like a bit of spice?


This years event used literally the entire hill across the 5 stages. Most stages were quite similar, with the infamous steep well established trails. Each stage did have their own characteristics though. Stage 1 was the easiest stage, a sort of warm up stage. With stages 2 and 3 going through the woods with off camber sections, the technicality heated up a bit. Stage 4 had a series of gap jumps along the top then headed down to the gully or parts of “Ride Portugal”, where super steep and small rocky sections kept the riders well on their toes. Finally onto stage 5, again with some gap jumps along the top and into some very tight and steep berms, with its final section heading into the finish arena.

"The" corner on stage 3 caused a lot of debate for the fastest line

4 out of the 5 stages finished at the event HQ

Lewis Harvey making light work of the steep chute

The Gully kept riders on their toes

It was great to see this event bring out some elite riders and the fastest man on the hill was Jono Jones (21-29) in a stunning 12:08.02, winning on his legs powered Propain. Hot on his heels was Adam Brayton (U40 e-bike) in 12:11.05 riding his Nukeproof ebike and third fastest man was Henrik Jenson (21-29) in 12:14.84.

Adam Brayton replaced on the top step in e-bike category.

The women’s race was split into a 5 stage race and a 4 stage race. It’s important to note that all 5 stages were ridden by all women, but stage 4 was not included in the final results of the U16s. Jess Stone 21-34F) smashed out an incredible time of 13:56.34, Rebecca Preece (21-34F) took second fastest in 16:45.79 and third fastest went to Sarah Morgan (35+F). In the 4 stage womens U16s race the fastest time went to Katy Kaos McGowan, despite a big slide down the hill and over 4 minutes of lost time still managed a 16:37.38, next was Izzy Blackman in 17:13.24 and third went to Eilidh Staples-Cargill in 19:34.03.

I always seem to capture Katy Kaos McGowan in a downpour

Jess took overall fastest woman of the day

The feedback from the riders is always really positive when they’ve raced this venue. I’ll never forget the first time arriving at this venue and finding the hill looking quite intimidating, but it’s super fun to ride. Martin offers uplifts at One Giant Leap for £30 a day, and he can normally get in 17 uplifts (approximately), so that’s an utter bargain if you’re in the area.

Martin, the legend behind this bike park

So that’s a wrap for this report, but it’s a good time to also mention that Llangollen WILL NOT be in the calendar for next year. Kev has decided to put this particular venue on hold for 2024, but it will be back again for 2025!!
Next up will be the Kirroughtree weekender. With a specific Hopetech women’s and academy race on the Saturday and including a free U10’s race, and a multi-stage mash up on the Sunday. Kirroughtree is a favourite for many racers, and many opt to turn up on the Saturday and explore the trails. With a fantastic bike shop, café and shower block, it’s an absolute must race event. If you’re really lucky, a clear sky at night will reveal the Milky Way as Kirroughtree Forest is one of the certified Dark Sky sites in the UK.

Kyle Higgins - race run style for miles

Chaperone duties enables the youngest riders to shred and race

For a full rundown of the Llangollen race results and photos, head over to Roots & Rain here. For more information of the upcoming Kirroughtree weekend head to the PMBA website and Facebook. Next year is likely to look a little different for the PMBA Enduro Series so keep your eyes peeled on their Facebook for news and further information.