Sunday, 14 August 2022

For the love of mud

A GARDENER has won a national competition in mountain boarding — and says he loves mud.

A GARDENER has won a national competition in mountain boarding — and says he loves mud.

Harry Jessop, 33, of Rowan Close, Sonning Common, finished first in the masters category of the ATBA-UK Mountainboard Series.

He gained the most points across seven competitions in the disciplines of boarder-cross, freestyle and downhill between April and September.

He said: “It’s the first time I’ve won it in what was my second year of competing in the masters category.

“It has taken a lot of work and a lot of falling over to get there so it’s great.”

Mr Jessop, who lives with his partner Elizabeth Child, became involved in the sport with a group of friends 12 years ago after coming across a promotional stand at an extreme sports festival.

He had experience in skateboarding and wanted to try a sport that would allow him to explore the outdoors.

The sport uses elements of snowboarding and skateboarding but takes place on all terrains. Competitors use chunky off-road skateboards that allow riders to tackle grassy slopes, woodland and rocky tracks.

The boarder-cross discipline includes four men racing down a track while negotiating a number of obstacles, while freestyling requires the rider to perform stunts on their board.

In downhill boarding a single rider is timed in a descent of a mountain. Mr Jessop, who helps to organise mountain boarding events, said: “It’s still a small, niche sport.

“The series has been running in the UK for about 20 years but it’s nowhere near as big as mountain biking or skateboarding.

“We’re a tight-knit group. Everyone is really friendly and there’s a bit of a family buzz at these competitions, which is nice. It also gets you into the wild and down with nature.

“As someone who grew up in the countryside, I’ve always loved the outdoors and it’s nice to have a sport that takes you to these places and shows you the world.”

Mr Jessop enjoys the adrenaline rush of competing.

“Some of us require a small amount of danger in our lives to feel a little more alive,” he said. “A lot of people are a bit gung-ho so it can be dangerous. It’s not easy to control your speed and you will take a tumble at some point.”

Mr Jessop believes his job and hobby go hand in hand and even uses his wheelbarrow to help build routes at competitions.

He added: “I have a grubby life both ways. In mountain boarding you get covered in mud, just as you do with gardening.”

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