On Saturday 2nd September 2017 we will host the last Dirty Gran Fondo at our Gembrook course. We aim for this day to be a celebration of this event series by bringing you more entertainment than you have ever seen before, both at the event venue and also on course. We are working on some grand ideas, and really want this to go down in history as an event to be remembered. However, we cant do it alone! To have the confidence to spend the extra money, we need the confidence of people entering early and being part of spreading the word. Bike riding is a community, and we have always been here to create some of the best experiences possible for you. We would love it if you could help. To do this you can enter early, this gets you a cheaper entry price and we are also going to once again offer double the chances to win the amazing Cannondale prize drawer. Entries will open next week – we are just checking out a new start /finish venue.
So why is it the last one?
In 2006 whilst travelling the world for 6 months I got the opportunity to compete in many great cycling events that provided so much more to riders than I had ever seen in Australia. One event in Switzerland even had massage on course, and teams putting chain lube on your chain as you rode up the hills in a gruelling 120km marathon with 5500 high meters and some 3500 competitors. Having run events as part of the Fat Tyre Flyers committee including 2 National championships and an Oceania championship’s I was hungry to bring some events that had more. Committees are an interesting beast so the only way to bring more and know it could happen was to start my own events company.
Big Hill Events ran its first event in 2007 at Wandong called ‘The Gut Full Marathon’ It was 96kms in course distance with approximately 20kms of single track and using many of the same roads as the Dirty Gran Fondo. The point of difference was the 4 feedzones on course loaded with food for the riders, never seen in Australia before. After Black Saturday destroyed all of the trails in the Mt Disappointment area and frustrated by complaints that we didn’t have enough single track in the course I came up with the Dirty Gran Fondo concept. Cyclo Cross in Australia was on the rise and modelling of sailing racing where you enter a competition based on the type of boat you sail I formed the idea for our categories to be based on bikes. Along with the amazing feed zones which were expanded to have even more food than ever seen we also added a coffee machine at the furthest point to really stand out from the other events.
Over the 6 years we have added more to the events including live bands on course,finish line entertainment, and beer sales. The Dirty Gran Fondo without a doubt is one of Australia’s most giving events with the cheapest entry fees compared to similar mtb marathon style events or even more so, mass participation road events.
However over the last 2 years we have seen our numbers go from 450 to 350 and now 240 making this years version a barely break even event. As an event organiser you get pretty used to having people question that you must be making a tonne of money from your events. I wish this was the case, so I could give back more. The Dirty Gran Fondo events require approx. $18,000 to be put on and with tourism and council grants all dried up, sponsorship dollars rarely available, and we are then reduced to needing strong numbers to make it a cost effective event.
I own a small interior and architecture firm which is my profession. Big Hill Events over the years has lost in excess of 100k whilst supporting both part time and full time staff salaries as I tried to bring better events but also still be able to work full time as required in my design firm. I haven’t minded the loss of income but with numbers dropping there is no point “flogging a dead horse” as they say. Big Hill Events will remain with its Buxton Boot Camp and Run To The Dog events but its time for me to step back from this concept before I’m faced with even further company losses and an event that is just a shell of what it used to be. It’s been great, and we have stayed true to our value of offering more back to you, the rider.
We hope that the community will get behind our last event and come and celebrate it in style with us. We love running great events and truly if you back us, this Gembrook race will be one to define great events for many years coming.
From myself and all in my team Big Hill Events thanks you for your support. We could not have run the event without the support of the Wandong-Heathcote Junction community group who have been working with us since 2007. There is a great team of family and friends who all help me bring you these events and I thoroughly thank them for their continued support.