Manx End to End: 1,700 riders begin gruelling race

Nick Craig The 46-mile (75km) course is slightly shorter this year

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About 1,700 mountain bikers have begun the annual 46-mile (75km) End to End challenge in the Isle of Man.

Organisers say it is the largest field in the event's 17-year history with more than 700 cyclists travelling to the island to race.

The challenge, which sees cyclists ride from the Point of Ayre in the north of the island to Cregneash in the south, began at 10.00 BST.

Last year 1,500 cyclists started the race, with 959 completing it.

'Brutal conditions'

Manx cyclist Elliot Baxter won the 2012 event in what he described as "brutal conditions".

Organisers have made slight changes to the course since last year, including a new all-weather section through Arrasey Plantation.

End to End Only 959 people who entered the race in 2012 finished the challenge

Course designer Julian Corlett said: "It should be a tiny bit shorter but there are a few technical sections thrown in as well."

The annual event was first held in 1996 when a group of friends cycled across the island.

Riders have to tackle a variety of terrain during the event and climb more than 1,500m, as they ride from the Point of Ayre in the north of the island to Cregneash in the south.

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