Massively popular cycling endurance event The Strathpuffer has been cancelled for 2021 due to the challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic.
The competition – which sees mountain bikers try to complete as many laps of a 12.5km course as they can in 24 hours – attracted more than 1,000 racers to the Highland village of Strathpeffer in January this year.
But it has been announced on social media that its 16th edition, which was set to take place in two months’ time, will no longer be able to go ahead due to the pandemic.
A post on the Strathpuffer Facebook page said: “We just don’t believe that circumstances relating to Covid-19 will have improved sufficiently by January 2021 to enable us, in all good conscience, to bring almost 2,000 people from all over the UK to a small Highland village.
“We have thought long and hard about this and tried to balance all the relevant factors such as current guidance from Scottish Government about events, the announcement of a possible vaccine, current and changing travel restrictions for competitors across the UK and beyond, our desire to give competitors as much notice as possible and the need to retain the support of the local communities impacted by the event.
“However, in the end this decision felt pretty inevitable, even though we are so going to miss being together with you all for the annual winter madness.”
‘Keep riding, keep smiling’
Fans of the event, which can see bikers powering through 17 hours of darkness in harsh snow and wind, voiced their regret but agreed that the cancellation felt inevitable.
One wrote: “Sad, but entirely understandable and correct. Thank you for trying to run the event, and I hope to be back in 2022!”
Another added: “Gutted but understandable, chin up next year will rock!”
Competitors who were set to take part in the gruelling challenge have been emailed details about refunds or transferring their entries to January 2022, when the next Strathpuffer is set to go ahead.
In lieu of the competition at the start of next year, organisers are encouraging people to collect stories and pictures of how they are marking the weekend instead, and post them in the Strathpuffer Forum Facebook page – with prizes for the top entries.
They ended their post: “In the meantime, keep riding, keep smiling and we can’t wait to see you all in person in 2022.”