The Quest for Epic Legend Status in the Swiss Alps – Part 2

Mike Blewitt, Craig Wylie and Gavin Wille are all in search of the final finisher’s medal in their Epic Series respective palmarès at the Swiss Epic. If they complete the Swiss Epic they will join the prestigious Epic Legends club.

Stage 2 of the Epic Series race, The Swiss Epic, took riders to the highest point of the race; the Laj Alv natural reservoir, at 2 543 metres above sea level. The route is back-loaded with climbing, with the day’s two most significant climbs falling within the final 25 kilometres of the 69-kilometre-long stage.

The potential Epic Legends featured today all live in Australia or New Zealand who have made the journey to the other side of the world in picturesque Switzerland.

Mike Blewitt, or Mr. Marathon MTB (as he is affectionately known), is no stranger to stage races and has made a career of the mountain biking industry from a racing and media perspective. Mike first encountered the Epic Series when he ventured to South Africa’s Western Cape in 2011 to tackle the Untamed African MTB Race – the Absa Cape Epic.

A tough first bite at the Epic Series was enough to have him hooked and in 2017 he completed his first Pioneer, fuelled by Nutri-Grain in the backcountry of New Zealand, followed by a consecutive finish in 2018. The Swiss Epic hasn’t been smooth sailing for Mike though; his first attempt was back in 2015 where he was set to add another notch to his metaphorical Epic Series belt, but he was forced to withdraw due to illness. This year he is back and is set on claiming his Epic Legend status and accompanying medal, “I don’t want to count chickens before they hatch but getting the Epic Legend medal is a big motivator for me” he said.

After Stage 2, Mike and his partner, Imogen Smith, are currently leading the mixed category; Mike has completed done all other Epic Series races bar the Port to Port (which is next on their combined bucket list). Imogen is no stranger to stage races either and has her eyes set on her Epic Legend medal at the 2020 Absa Cape Epic.

Craig Wylie and Gavin Wille were given the title of Unlikely Legends, a title they are looking to ditch at this year’s Swiss Epic.

Craig and Gavin have quite a story that dates back long before they even set foot on the start line in Graubünden (read the history of these chaps here) and are both looking to claim their Epic Legends medals upon their safe return to Davos in roughly 250km and 8000m of climbing’s time. Yesterday they completed the opening stage in 06:39:57 and bettered their time today when they completed Stage 2 in 6:14:55 with smiles spread widely across their faces and plenty of energy in the reserves (the proof is in the victorious bunny hop). Craig said, “Back in 2017 we got everything wrong in the Absa Cape Epic, from a nutrition and game plan point of view. It’s just gotten better and better from last year’s Pioneer, fuelled by Nutri-Grain and now it is great!”. In comparing the Epic Series races, he admitted “They’re all tough. The Cape Epic is sandy and rocky, the Pioneer has tons of climbing, and the Swiss Epic has even more climbing per kilometre. But I cried more in the Cape Epic.”

Neither of the two have visited the Graubünden region before and Gavin had to admit that “Looking down to St. Moritz today was the best part. You simply cannot beat this view.” The pair then went on to compare the best and worst of each race: “The Swiss Epic wins hands down with the hotel comfort and sleep ins. And no bag pipes waking you up at 05:30 like at the Cape Epic!”