Northern Ireland

Kilbroney Park: Obstacles left on mountain bike race trail

Tree across trail Image copyright First Tracks
Image caption Logs had been placed across trails, the organisers of the race said

An attempt to sabotage a mountain bike trail in a County Down forest could have caused serious injury or death, race organisers have said.

Marshals found that rocks and logs had been placed to block the route for the First Tracks Enduro Cup race in Rostrevor's Kilbroney Park on Saturday.

Wool had also been tied between trees at head height.

"It's obviously extremely dangerous for any competitors that come down," race organiser Glyn O'Brien said.

"It just gives a bad vibe with mountain bikers in the area."

He added: "We're not really sure if this is kids doing this for fun or something a bit more malicious."

Image copyright First Tracks
Image caption String or wire was tied at head height between trees along some of the trails

Mr O'Brien said it appeared the wood tied across the trails had been a "pre-meditated" move.

"It's not the sort of thing that a person carries on them when they're walking in the hills and not something that was lying about," he said.

"The person has deliberately done this, thought about what they've been doing and moved all the big rocks and logs as well, and they've taken their time - it wasn't a five-minute job.

"It's extremely scary to think anybody would do that."

Marshals cleared the obstacles and the race went ahead on Sunday.

SDLP councillor Declan McAteer said he had spoken to police who confirmed they were investigating the incident.

Image copyright First Tracks
Image caption Race marshals found the items in Kilbroney Park on Saturday morning

He said those responsible for placing the obstacles on the trail had endangered lives.

"It's the last thing I'd want to hear of happening," he said.

"It doesn't do a lot of good for the Rostrevor area."

Mr McAteer added that mountain biking had been a growing success for the area's economy and he was concerned such incidents could put that in jeopardy.

Insp Houston of the Police Service of Northern Ireland said: "This was an unbelievably dangerous thing to do.

"Whoever is responsible could potentially have caused great injury to those participating in today's event had the route not been checked".