2021 DotWatcher Awards
9 December, 2021
2021 saw us coming out of a difficult year. Races were postponed and many riders weren't able to make the start line. Yet, the world of bikepacking exploded! So many newcomers to the world of ultra-racing were itching to get on the road. This year held incredible events and was the perfect melting pot for some inspirational stories, heartwarming acts and exciting finishes.
It was difficult to whittle down the nominees, with so many incredible athletes, organisers and dotwatchers nominated. Here we have the 8 winners of the 2021 DotWatcher Awards:
BEST DOTWATCHER AWARD
Best DotWatcher Award - Wendy Ellis
2021 was a strange year for dotwatching, coming out of the dumpster fire of 2020 all the races were up in the air. Our commentators did an incredible job of communicating the races despite the overwhelming uncertainty. Wendy Ellis was one such contributor who went above and beyond. Wendy is a thorough and engaging commentator whose storytelling ability allows the dotwatchers at home to be immersed in the race. Her 2021 commentary of Italy Divide, Badlands and Hope1000 were second to none, with Badlands being one of the most popular races on the 2021 calendar thanks to Wendy’s commentary. Her use of social media, official race photography and in-depth insights create a cohesive picture of the races as they unfold, from first rider to Lanterne Rouge. Wendy isn’t just an avid dotwatcher, she has competed in Red Hook Crits and regularly goes on some pretty gnarly bike rides! We even heard she recently had her eye on some ultras.
We wanted to recognise this incredible commentator with the Best Dotwatcher Award.
Rookie Award - Vera Ngosi-Sambrook
2021 saw hundreds of new ultra-distance racers flocking to the start lines but Vera's journey from novice to Pan Celtic finisher was inspirational to all.
Vera was the first ever recipient of the Ultra-Distance Scholarship, a scholarship to elevate representation of cyclists of colour in the ultra-distance world. Vera joined the scholarship as a complete newcomer to the sport of ultra-cycling but couldn't have been more eager to get involved. She shared her training highs and lows and her insights into being a newcomer to the sport, inspiring cyclists around the world. Her efforts paid off at the Pan Celtic Race coming 4th in the women’s category in a time of 9 days, 2 hours and 41 minutes. Vera has carried on her ultra-cycling adventures, including bikepacking the Transcambrian Way and sailing to join the Adventure Syndicate and People Pedal Power for the COP26 cargo bike relay. To top it all off, Vera has joined the 2022 mentors for the Ultra-Distance Scholarship to help the next cohort of recipients on their journey to GBDURO.
Vera is certainly deserving of the 2021 Rookie Award and we hope there’s lots more to come!
PEOPLE'S CHOICE AWARD
People's Choice Award - Sofiane Sehili
Sofiane Sehili is no stranger to the DotWatcher awards, he received the “Best Dot Award” in 2020 for his humongous efforts over the season. This year, unfortunately, during a ride in Paris he collided with a car and broke his tibia, requiring extensive pinning to his shin bone and being unable to ride for weeks. However, in true Sofiane style, he was back on the turbo four weeks later and gave us another phenomenal season in 2021. He won the Silk Road Mountain Race, came second in Transpyrenees, came 4th in Badlands and then paired up with Adrien Liechti to dazzle us with a pairs’ win at Two Volcano Sprint.
We had so many nominations for Sofiane that we have created an award for 2021 to recognise the champion of the people, so here is Sofiane Sehili’s People’s Choice Award.
Pairs Award - Duncan and Sam Stewart-Ball
Duncan and Sam Stewart-Ball are a father and son duo who have taken up ultra-cycling as a pair. With Sam being 13, we believe he is the youngest ultra-racer ever after completing the Pan Celtic Race. Having such incredible motivation for their undertaking, Duncan and Sam completed the 2021 Pan Celtic Race (Short) in 9 days, 5 hours and 46 minutes. But by no means was this a short race; at 1,373km and 20,000m of climbing this version of the race is comparable to some of the world’s biggest full ultra-races. Duncan and Sam have said their bond has only been strengthened by such a once in a lifetime experience.
We wanted to recognise Duncan and Sam’s phenomenal achievement and this year they will receive the thoroughly deserved DotWatcher Pairs Awards.
Resilience Award - Ana Orenz
Ana Orenz is a dazzlingly talented long distance rider, coming 8th overall and first woman at Transpyrenees 2019 and 10th overall with a women's win at the 2020 Two Volcano Sprint. Just weeks after becoming the Spanish 24 hour national champion this year, Ana embarked on TransIbérica, a 3500km, free-route ultra-race. During the testing race Ana collided with a wild boar, she lost consciousness and awoke in hospital to find she had a broken neck and many facial wounds. Her spinal cord was bruised, but still intact, and Ana remained rehabilitating in hospital until late October. Ana has recovered tremendously after her accident and is currently back on her bike for some winter training! Her incredible tenacity and positive mental attitude are an inspiration to us all. She is currently recuperating with her daughter Ruby, showing the world that more miles do really mean more smiles.
Thank you Ana for being such an inspiration, the DotWatcher community would love to recognise your journey with the DotWatcher Resilience award.
Adaptable Award - Further
Further - Camille McMillan’s background as a photographer of TCR is an unusual perspective from which to organise an event and we’ve found this approach thoroughly refreshing. Light on the details and heavy on the experience. In difficult circumstances, Camille and his small team of friends acting as helpers managed to put on a new grand depart event in 2021, Further East, and adapt his original Further Pyrenees into an individual time trial format over multiple weekends to ensure it was able to run. These 3 different events in 2 different countries that challenged competitors were true to the original spirit of racing. Unsupported and mutually supportive.
Organising two events in two separate countries was a rare feat in 2021 and the community commended Camille and his team for their adaptability.
LANTERNE ROUGE AWARD
Lanterne Rouge Award - Lisa Pfeiffer
Lisa Pfeiffer is an ultra racing veteran, with the Three Peaks Bike Race already under her belt. This year her ultra-distance race was Two Volcano Sprint 2021. She set off in a strong position and we all followed her journey between the two Italian Volcanoes, Vesuvius and Etna. She kept us entertained with insights into her music choice on the road, how to pop a saddle sore and the true meaning of riding solo, all via social media, whilst still competing in the testing event. Lisa’s perseverance to finish the event, despite horrific saddle sores, was something to be commended. She finished the 1,183km race in 6 days, 15 hours and 50 minutes. Well done to Lisa and thank you for giving dotwatchers around the world an insight into the turbulent life of an ultra-distance racer.
To recognise Lisa’s resolve we’d like to award her the first ever Lanterne Rouge Award.
JACK OF ALL TRADES AWARD
Jack of All Trades Award - Pawel (Piko) Pulawski
Pawel Pulawski has had an incredible 2021 season. An impressive racer, achieving second at TransIbérica 2021 and also All Points North, where he raced to the wire with a 30 second gap between second and first. However, Piko is also a seasoned race organiser! Organising Race Through Poland, he manages to race and organise both in the same season. With six carefully routed parcours and over 1500km of riding this truly is a beast of an event, traversing the southern borders of his home country Poland.
A huge part of ultra-cycling is giving back to the community. By racing and organising Piko has managed to create an engaged community of ultra-distance cyclists. For this the community acknowledged Piko as the Jack of All Trades; a talented racer and committed race organiser. Congratulations Piko!
Looking Back and Looking Forward
If you enjoyed the 2021 DotWatcher awards then take a look at the 2020 DotWatcher Awards
Want to see more? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with suggestions for the 2022 DotWatcher awards or to be involved in the 2022 panel.