A POPULAR mountain biking challenge in aid of the Great North Air Ambulance Service (GNAAS) is set to return in 2017.
The Hamsterley Beast, based at Hamsterley Forest, in County Durham, will be held on May 14.
The event organisers – a small group of mountain biking enthusiasts – set up the challenge to “give something back” to the air ambulance which last year alone treated 36 cyclists in separate incidents across Northern England.
Despite only being established in 2015, the event has already raised £27,500 for the charity.
GNAAS paramedic Jamie Walsh and doctor Jeff Doran, will be taking part in the ride and are encouraging others to saddle up alongside them.
Mr Walsh said: “We’ve both been putting in some miles and are really looking forward to tackling the beast again. It is a fantastic event and we can’t thank the guys enough for their support. We’re urging others to join in the fun.
“During our day job, we often give treatment to cyclists who’ve been injured in busy city centres and remote locations such as Hamsterley Forest, where we’ve airlifted patients from in the past.”
Entries are now live for the challenge, which sees bikers from all over the world come together to take on either an 18-mile or 40-mile route.
Organiser, Jerry Tatton, said the 2017 course would be “bigger and better” with participants also being able to look forward to beer, a BBQ and camping too.
He said: “Participants are raising funds that go directly to the front line of the charity. The aircrew save countless lives every year.
“We are all extremely proud and passionate about this event. From the start, our intention has been to create one of the most challenging and rewarding mountain bike rides in the region while at the same time keeping it accessible for riders of all ability levels.”
Last year’s event, which was a sell-out, saw 350 riders descend on the forest to complete ‘The Beast’.
Mr Tatton added: “It’s an unbelievable buzz to see that many riders all in the same place doing what we love to do.”
Entry fee is £30 which will go towards GNAAS and entrants can sign up for a sponsorship pack with an official sponsor form, guidance in setting up an online sponsorship page and a GNAAS challenge t-shirt here.
Prizes will be presented to the biggest fundraisers.
To sign up visit hamsterleybeast.com