Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Dawn To Dusk 2012 - They Were There...


Dawn to Dusk Enduro event was by all accounts everything it was billed to be - for a bit of background to this illustrious event, have a look back at our previous post about it and the D2D website - links at the bottom of the page. The race results and what happened at this year's event are also on the D2D website.

We have a bit of a personal and unusual take on the event from the Marshals who worked so hard at the coal face, from one of the competitors who did the 24 hour enduro (on his own!) and from one of the spectators at the event. They  have all been kind enough to give us their thoughts and experiences from the Wales weekend, so thanks very much to them for this:

This is what the marshals said...


A bit of Enduro history


Endurance racing is about keeping going, the clue being in the name. Whether it is the London Marathon or the Le Mans 24 hr, the challenge is to overcome the adversity of time and fatigue, mechanical, physical and emotional.

Dawn to Dusk was started by Si Pavey and Nick Plumb in 2002 as a 12 hour off-road enduro at Walters Arena in the hills above Neath in the valleys of South Wales. The idea being to provide an event that riders of all abilities would be able to compete in. 
I knew both the guys and could not resist taking part in their inaugural race.
Twelve hours on an off-road bike is hard work even if you are taking it easy. The terrain on the site is always demanding and challenging and you know you have ridden a ride by the end of the day.

For me the once was enough, it was an achievement and I had the photo & T Shirt.

Marshalling resources

The next year I was asked to help marshal the event and a whole new world opened up to me.

In each of the subsequent years, me and some other foolhardy folks became busier.
Si stood down from the event and Nick asked us to get more involved. A six hour event was added to the repertoire and then the germ of a stupid idea came.
What about if we ran three races together over the weekend? It could happen but it would be mad. Thus the 24 hour was born.

Over the years a group of amazing people have come together to help run this unique weekend of racing. A disparate team in the real sense, who spend time together once a year to work hard preparing the 15 mile lap and running the event.

The day following the racing, complete with sleepy eyes and hangovers we have to clear the mountain of the miles of track tape and hundreds of orange arrows plus fencing and barriers. Many of us had been up most of the weekend and are starting to feel the effect. 

Rainy days and Mondays 

This year the weather was miserable on the Monday and by about 7.30 I had been clearing the start area for an hour when the wonderful Spanish Chris turned up with a thermos of coffee and some Crunch Creams, I was growing to love him. We were chatting about how the weekend had gone and possibilities for the next year. He talked about how we have become a sort of alternative family.
I’ve thought about that for a while and it is amazing how close we have become when we only see each other on this mountainside. Everyone comes to work bloody hard and often under quite a great deal of pressure to make the weekend work. 

Bubble of light

The night time is quite an amazing experience. When we first planned the 24 hour race we were concerned about riders getting hurt and lost. However riders seem to ride to suit the conditions as they travel within their bubble of light. Most have helmet lights as well as on their bikes and very efficient they are too. Watching them as they weave through the forest at three in the morning can be eerie and spectacular.
The sense of relief that comes with the first light of dawn is replaced with a feeling of dread with the realisation that the event is still less than half way done.

Like a well-oiled machine...

As marshals we are in a different event from the competitors. Success for us is measured in how smoothly things run, how quickly lost or broken riders are recovered. The site is a maze of trails and it can become quite challenge to locate riders when information is patchy or contradictory. At the end of the day we are satisfied if there are no serious casualties and course cutting has been kept to a minimum.

The farewell feast!

In the last few years a new tradition has developed at the end of the event. The wonderful guys who keep us fed and watered over the weekend prepare a sumptuous feast for all the marshals. A table is set for 30 or so worn out but elated people and we sit down to break bread together. It certainly ties in with Spanish Chris’s observation.

An Enduro for marshals!

For another year our own endurance event within the main event is over. Thoughts and conversations automatically go to what was good, what was not, what we will do differently next year. As well as that, this year we are planning a marshals trail riding trip, sort of a busmans holiday, next spring. Emails are being exchanged and plans are being formed.

You gotta love it.

This is what the competitor said..... 

Racer number 476

I entered the 24 hour enduro just to see if I could complete the almost impossible task of riding a bike for 24 hours straight. I wasn’t bothered about what position I came in, I just wanted to finish the race...and in one piece! 

One is one and all alone

Everyone was telling me how crazy I was to enter the 24 hour race on my own I, but I ignored them all, I wanted to try it! I spent over £500 on a lighting kit and a set of tyres for my bike and signed up ....and I’m so glad I did.

The race was one of the toughest but the best races I’ve done in my life. I found the night course quick-flowing with some tricky little sections! It was such a good experience to ride through the night. My plan was to ride from 7pm to 7am Sunday morning then rest for a couple of hours then hit the long track hard on Sunday.

Night time is the right time

I managed to do 12 laps through the night which I was happy with. Unfortunately I woke up to a very loose back wheel....every spoke in my back wheel was loose! I took it to one of the guys on the stool and, what a legend, he managed to get it fixed for me and got me back out on the track riding again.

In a rut

The day time track was a bit different to the night course. What with the 12 hour and 6 hour racers whizzing round, the track got cut up really quickly, deep ruts all over the show, steep drop-offs and hill climbs along with it. I only managed to do one lap during the day because of my wheel problems and late start but I managed to finish the race which is what I signed up for.

 Everyone's a winner

I came 10th in my class and 39th overall. I couldn’t have done this race without a couple of special people at one marshal point, a big thank you to Will Paige and his dad Dave who were on hand with hot jacket potatoes, cups of tea, and chocolate for when I was knackered and needed a break! Also a massive thank you to all the other marshals and organisers that helped to  make 2012 D2D such an amazing weekend.
For me overall Dawn Till Dusk 2012 was hard...and painful for a few days after, but that was a small price to pay for such a great buzz...and it’s not going to stop me coming back next year for another go at the 24 hour race!

Ollie Denyer

 And this is what the spectator said...

The quiet hum of engines greeted my arrival late on Saturday night at Walters Arena, a light smell of two stroke was in the air and a few tired riders were hobbling back to their temporary homes.
I pitched my tent on the outskirts of the camp, grabbed a beer and went for a wander. The site was much larger than I expected and I watched in the blackness as the dedicated 24 hourers continued their mission.

The Dawn Chorus

I was woken at 6.30am sharp to the sound of kick starts and generators. Peering out of the tent, the site was a hub of activity as the riders of the 12 hour race prepared to start. Crawling out of the tent I headed to the food hut and started the day with a fantastic organic breakfast! What an unexpected bonus.

Sitting on a stony hillside I watched, excitedly, as the riders lined up for the le mans start. Noticing a friend I waved and cheered as he ran to his bike, and they were off, kicking up a cloak of fine sandy dust which followed them as they sped off on their journey.

I was pleasantly surprised that, walking round, I could see lots of different parts of the tracks, from road to very steep and rocky hill climbs, through woods and water. This gave me a great chance to exercise the digital SLR!

Sparky on Sunday

Sunday night was very atmospheric, the feeling of relief was contagious, but the spark and passion didn’t leave the eyes of the riders. I got chatting to a few riders (who were hopping about, too sore to sit down) and they said they were already planning how they could improve for next year!

The weekend gave me a fantastic insight into the lives of those passionate about enduro and motocross and I have to say… I am hooked. Fingers crossed I will be competing myself next year!

Connie Evans

Thanks so much to all the contributors for their really interesting pieces and thanks to Connie Evans for her brilliant photos too - it was clearly such a great event that everyone is already looking forward to next year!  If you were there or if you have any D2D stories feel free to post us a comment, we'd love to hear your experiences.


  1. I was there, hiding in the undergrowth that was the 'Mud' mess tent, that was my pot roast for 50 or was it 60? As with sheep, think of a number and double it. Thanks to all the crew who made it all possible and as the story says a great crowd this year with an unusually calm about the place, without a sign of panic anywhere, even in the M.A.S.H style kitchen.
    So glad to get up to the quarry, as Finghin has captured so well in his vid.....................
    "My Dawn to Dusk 2012 Promo, hope you like it!!" Finghin Kiernan
    Dawn to Dusk 2012
    Dawn to Dusk Promotional Video.

    1. Thanks very much for your comment Lou and the video link - it is awesome - as are sheep! What a great event!