Mayhem as Braid wins epic event and meets Princess Anne

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Kirsty McSeveney, second left. Picture: Habibur Rahman (171049-37)

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Endurance king James Braid is celebrating a gruelling victory in the world’s largest 24-hour mountain bike event.

Braid blew away the rest of the field in Wiggle Mountain Mayhem 2013 – an epic 200-mile challenge.

Gatcombe Park played host to the long-running competition, with Braid storming to success in the solo men’s section.

The Clanfield man, a Wiggle staff rider, dominated from the outset and lapped his rivals three times as he completed 26 laps in 24hr 45.12min.

That was the equivalent of riding up Mount Everest, with 320m of climbing on each lap of the circuit.

Braid’s win is made all the more impressive with him taking the title at the age of 24.

That is believed to make him the youngest champion in the event’s history.

To top things off, Princess Anne was on hand to congratulate Braid on his victory on her estate.

Despite the gruelling nature of the race, Braid felt his focus powered him through to the title.

He said: ‘It’s a real endurance thing so it’s good to win it at a young age.

‘It was tough at the start and I went off quite hard.

‘I was leading from the second lap, but I was so focused it didn’t feel too bad.

‘I was picking off sections and had rested well for it.

‘So it was a case of going for it. I wasn’t going to let anything stop me!

‘I finished three laps up on the rest of the field.

‘But the guy who was pitting for me was deliberately not giving me the right splits.

‘It was intentional so I wouldn’t get complacent! I guess that worked out in the end for me, though.

‘It was good afterwards when Princess Anne turned up in a Land Rover and talked to us. I couldn’t believe it.

‘I was pretty delirious at the time, to be honest, and she appeared from nowhere. It was a case of: Okay then. Hello!

‘But it’s really satisfying to win an event as big as this one.’

There will be little let-up for Braid after pulling off a coup to land the Mountain Mayhem title.

That was his big goal for this season – but now he’s starting to look towards his next campaign.

Braid said: ‘Mountain Mayhem was one of my key targets.

‘I did the national 12-hour race in mid May and came second in that.

‘I’ve ridden quite a lot since I was in my mid-teens but I didn’t start racing until I was at college.

‘In the past couple of seasons I’ve stepped it up a bit. This year I wanted to go for Mountain Mayhem, though.

‘Now I’m planning for next year. I want to move forward.

‘That’ll be cross-training and the gym before I do some tests at Winchester and take part in a study, so I know where I am.

‘I’m doing 14 hours a week on average, but that can go up to 25 hours. It’s a bit like a second job!

‘But I like to race and it’s pleasing when all the hard work pays off.’