Cycling race across Australia cancelled after British rider's death in event last year

Michael McGowan
The Guardian
<span class="element-image__caption">Mike Hall was killed during last year’s Indian Pacific Wheel Race in a collision with a car south of Canberra.</span> <span class="element-image__credit">Photograph: Lizzie Edmonds/PA</span>
Mike Hall was killed during last year’s Indian Pacific Wheel Race in a collision with a car south of Canberra. Photograph: Lizzie Edmonds/PA

An epic 5,500km-long cycling race across Australia has been cancelled after the death of a rider during the event last year.

Organisers of the Indian Pacific Wheel Race, an ultra-endurance ride in which cyclists journey solo from Fremantle in Western Australia to the Sydney Opera House, said this week that the race – which was due to start on 17 March – would be cancelled in 2018 because of the “potential outcomes” of an upcoming inquest into the death of British rider Mike Hall.

“Given this situation, and as more information about the potential outcomes of this process have become clear only very recently, it is with an extremely heavy heart that we cancel the 2018 Indian Pacific Wheel Race with immediate effect,” race director Jesse Carlsson said.

Hall, 35, was killed during last year’s race in a collision with a car south of Canberra.

A prolific ultra-distance cyclist, he had ridden more than 5,000km in 12 days – averaging more than 400 kilometres a day – and had previously warned riders about close calls with motorists.

The long-distance race was held for the first time in 2017. Crossing the Nullarbor Plain and passing through Adelaide, Melbourne and Canberra on their way to Sydney, riders were required to either carry all their food, water and repair supplies or buy them along the route.

Hall was one of 70 riders who set off from Fremantle last year, and race leaders were expected to complete the race in about 14 days.

Organisers cancelled the event after Hall’s death, but Carlsson had previously said the race would still go ahead with increased safety measures.

Entry fees would be refunded, he said.

“The fact that this race has taken on a life of its own, strengthened the ultra-endurance cycling community and created an unparalleled interest in what is largely a very solitary pursuit, is something of great pride,” Carrlsson said.

“It’s for this same reason that this decision is not taken lightly, knowing how many people this will upset and even anger.”

He said Hall was an “inspiration” to other riders.

“The phrase ‘be more Mike’ is something many of us have clung to in the weeks and months following his untimely death,” he said.

“Revisit that and please channel any of the negative energy associated with the cancellation of the IPWR into something that Mike would be proud of. Live because you can.”

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