;The annual Strathpuffer mountain bike endurance challenge has been cancelled due to new restrictions.
The two-day event – which was due to take place in January – brings together amateur bikers from across the UK for an endurance race in the Highlands.
However, due to new restrictions introduced by the Scottish Government, the organisers have decided to cancel the event instead of risking a potential health risk.
The Strathpuffer 24, which would have taken place on January 15, puts bikers through the toughest terrain in the harshest conditions.
In a statement released on Christmas Day, organisers said: “Just because we can, doesn’t mean we should.”
Restrictions only limit the number of people in attendance and do not place a ban the event itself.
Reasons behind Strathpuffer decision
The statement cited several reasons for the 2022 Strathpuffer’s cancellation.
It said: “We rely on lots of people to deliver the Puffer from a wide range of organisations, many of these people have direct or indirect links with NHS Highland.
“We cannot, in all conscience, take the risk of heaping yet more pressure on the NHS by causing any additional staff absences due to our wee cycle event.”
Due to the event’s rugged terrain and unforgiving format, there is usually a need for medical assistance during the 24 hours the bikers are racing, which includes 17 hours of darkness.
They also said: “We also need to consider the local community – Covid-19 prevalence in the Highlands is still very low compared to most other areas of the UK– we would not want to endanger that position by bringing competitors from all over the UK to the area, no matter how careful we asked everyone to be.”
The organisers are also conscious of the event’s reputation for having a “brilliant, relaxed atmosphere” and said it would be a disservice to competitors and fans of the competition to stage it under the current circumstances.