World-class MTB athletes to descend on Lake Mac

Lake Macquarie City Council

Oscar Berry, 14, takes on 'The Monkey' downhill course.jpg

More than 1500 mountain bike riders, including some of the sport’s top athletes, will descend on Lake Macquarie in March for the GWM Mountain Bike National Championships.

Held for the first time in the Awaba Mountain Bike Park at the foot of the Watagan Mountains, the Championships will run 12-17 March and include downhill, adaptive, cross-country and pump track disciplines.

The venue is no stranger to large-scale competition, having hosted numerous downhill and cross-country National Series races over the past decade.

But AusCycling CEO Marne Fechner said the 2024 Championships would be bigger and better than any previous contest staged at Awaba, with more than 1500 riders across all age categories, including world-class athletes bound for the 2024 Paris Olympics and UCI World Championships

The Championships are expected to welcome some of the world’s top mountain bike riders, including multiple World Cup winner Rebecca Henderson, Commonwealth Games silver medallist Zoe Cuthbert and multiple World Championship medallist Troy Brosnan.

“The GWM Mountain Bike National Championships are recognised as the premier event on the Australian mountain bike racing calendar,” Ms Fechner said.

“In each event, first-placed riders are acknowledged as the National Champion for that discipline, so there is a lot at stake, and it takes months and years of training to reach that level.”

“This competition is also key to qualifying for the World Championships.”

Ms Fechner expected to also confirm a number of top international competitors closer to the event.

The 2024 Championships are supported by Destination NSW, Lake Macquarie City Council and Hunter Mountain Bike Association.

Lake Macquarie Mayor Kay Fraser said the event was an enormous windfall for the city, and for the wider Hunter Region.

“It’s not just the 1500-plus competitors, more than half of whom will be from outside the region, seeking places to stay, eat and socialise outside the competition,” she said.

“It’s also their families, friends and support staff.”

“Those five days of competition will provide a massive boost to our tourism industry, and it will also draw attention to the incredible mountain biking we have right here on our doorstep.”

Hunter Mountain Bike Association President Josh Bridson said Awaba Mountain Bike Park provided plenty of options to create challenging courses for all riding styles.

“Our downhill mountain bike track, known as ‘The Monkey’, is famous for being one of the toughest in Australia,” he said.

“Winning on this track takes a mix of skill, bravery and a bit of luck.”

“Hosting this event is a fantastic opportunity for the HMBA community to showcase our trails and help deliver a top-notch event for riders from all over the country.”

“It’s also a chance to highlight Lake Macquarie as a wonderful place to both visit and live.”

What began as a fringe sport in California in the 1970s has grown to become a multi-billion dollar recreational and sporting pursuit worldwide.

An estimated 342,000 Australians participate in mountain biking, spending more than $630 million a year in the process and supporting 6100 full-time jobs.

Each discipline within the Championships requires different skills and training.

Cross-country sees competitors race through sections of uphill, downhill and flat terrain in the fastest time possible, navigating anything from winding, narrow ‘single-tracks’ to open fire trails.

Downhill is a more extreme form of the sport, where riders descend steep terrain, often over boulders, tree roots and jumps in a timed race to the finish line.

Pump track competitions require riders to speed around a short, undulating course, using only their momentum and gravity for speed, rather than pedal power.

Adaptive mountain biking focuses on riders who have limitations riding a standard leg-powered mountain bike, with athletes competing in a three-wheeled machine.

Go to for event registrations and information.

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