Hunted by the Fox

October 14, 2016

By Jenny Nuttall

The third Red Bull Fox Hunt came to Cumbria at Melmerby Scar, this time I couldn't miss out.  The weather had been pretty awful leading up to the weekend and the email Friday morning changing the schedule sent the message that something wasn't quite right. I arrived Saturday morning after receiving warnings from friends to take wellies!! The mud was slick, slippy and everywhere. 


We gathered for the briefing in the Red Bull teepee at 9am. For me, the first realisation of what an amazing event this was, happened right then. Sitting in the tent with 260 other likeminded, strong women and waiting to meet the awesome inspirational Rachel Atherton. Lets face it, aren't we all in awe of her? She is the most incredible and humble athlete, unprecedented in her skills and achievements. The energy in the tent was electric, well, that was until we were told that the uplift couldn't run due to the mud. We were going to have to walk/hike a bike up that scar! 

 red bull fox hunt rachel atherton jenny nutall

Many women were daunted by this, and many with good reasons to be. But you know what? We all did it. We pushed, shoved, carried our bikes up there with a lot of help and support for each other. Practice was made extra special by Rachel Atherton giving support and advice track side. 

 red bull foxhunt rachel atherton jenny nutall

There were two A or B lines to scope out, a technical section down the scar followed by a short singletrack, wide off camber grassy chicanes, berms, whoop de doos and a drop into the finish. Excellent track, but I really struggled on the wet slippy grass off camber section. I hiked up again to try to nail the mistakes I'd made. My goal for the weekend was to get on the front line for the mass start, even if it meant multiple hike a bikes to practice! Second time went slightly better, but I still found myself in the bracken at some points, argh. What was I told about body position and off camber again??!


The seeding run was at 3pm from the top of the scar. Off we went again, hiking up giving support to each other. Despite being told that we didn't have to enter seeding to be in the main event, 150 women did the hike anyway. Those with illness and those less fit, still did it. Hats off to those who struggled, but continued. Seeding was so much fun even though I ended up in the bracken...again! But I still managed to come 12th which gave me a spot on the front line. 

red bull foxhunt flare jenny nutall rachel atherton

After a fun evening in the tent with a brilliant atmosphere, we were on for race day. I still wanted to nail the off camber section so headed up for another practice in the morning. This together with support and advice from team Flare who were in the pits made me feel much more confident and ready for the race. 


Despite a few challenges for Red Bull, meaning that some of us had to walk up again, 250 or so women made it to the top ready to race. To see everyone together ready for the mass start was an incredible sight, the atmosphere was bursting with energy and I was so buzzing to be a part of it. Standing on the front line ready to battle with those around me and knowing Rachel Atherton was chasing us down, was, yeh, it was scary, exciting and one of the best things I've ever done. The 5 minute count down felt like a minute and the last 30 seconds like 3, then we were off. 


I've never done a mass start before and I had to retrain my mind in the first 100 metres to stop being polite! I was pushed off the track a couple of times, but it wasn't until I was overtaken that I knocked it up a gear. My race face was on and I attacked with everything I had! I was overtaken and I overtook numerous times riding across the peddly section at the top, I just managed to pull in front down the technical scar and along the singletrack, which gave me an advantage. Practice also paid off as I stayed on the track this time and kept my speed through the grassy off camber. I managed to pass two girls at the bottom just before the muddy berms and final drop into the finish. 


We had done it. I have to admit to shredding a tear with my friends! Despite the challenges, 250 women had done it, en mass.Looking back up at the track there was a snake of women all the way back to the scar, it was an amazing sight. A girl next to me said she didn't know anyone but could she join in our emotional moment?! Of course she could, it was a collective moment for us all. A community of women, regardless of ability had achieved the same goal. Some had never raced, others were seasoned racers, some had illnesses to deal with, some were fit. We ranged in age between 15 to late 50's but we all overcame the challenges of the weekend, we made it to the top and made it back down again. Not only did we share the 6 minutes of a race experience together, but we built stronger ties for womens mountain biking, made new friends and showed ourselves just what we can achieve if we stay positive. It was a race, and a weekend that I'll never forget. 


I was stoked to find out I came 9th with a 04.10.821 not too far behind the super fast ladies out in front. Rachel got a puncture but still managed 80th place.  


1st: Rosie Holdsworth – 03'44"870
2nd: Roslynn Newman – 03'45"198
3rd: Rosey Monaghan – 03'49"202
4th: Kirstin Moynihan – 04'04"866
5th: Melissa Pearson – 04'05"289

Rachel Atherton – 06'02"153


You can watch Rachel's POV here


Many thanks to Shane Millen Photography for the photos used here, more of his photos can be seen

Size Guide

Women's Tops

UK USA Bust Hip Length (front)
8 4 87-90cm 96-99cm 53cm
10 6 91-94cm 100-103cm 54.5cm
12 8 95-98cm 104-107cm 56cm
14 10 99-102cm 108-111cm 57.5cm
16 12 103-106cm 112-115cm 59cm
18 14 107-112cm 116-121cm 61.5cm
20 16 113-119cm 122-128cm 65cm

Women's Shorts

UK USA Waist Hip Length (inside)
6 2 70-73cm 84-88cm 34cm
8 4 74-77cm 89-93cm 35cm
10 6 78-81cm 94-98cm 36cm
12 8 82-85cm 99-103cm 37cm
14 10 86-89cm 104-108cm 38cm
16 12 90-93cm 109-115cm 39cm
18 14 94-97cm 116-122cm 40cm
20 16 98-101cm 123-129cm 41cm

Men's Tops

Chest Length (front)
X-Small 87-91cm 55cm
Small 92-95cm 56.5cm
Medium 96-99cm 58cm
Large 100-109cm 59.5cm
X-Large 110-119cm 61cm
XX-Large 120-127cm 64.5cm
XXX-Large 128-135cm 66cm

Men's Shorts

 Waist Hip Length (outside)
28" 69-73cm 84-88cm 60.5cm
30" 74-78cm 89-93cm 61.5cm
32" 79-83cm 94-98cm 63.5cm
34" 84-88cm 99-103cm 64.5cm
36" 89-93cm 104-108cm 65.5cm
38" 94-98cm 109-113cm 66.5cm
40" 99-103cm 114-118cm 67.5cm

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