Parcours Athlete Maddy Nutt Takes Multiple Podiums In Kenya

Talk about bucket list races, and after the past couple of weeks following Parcours athlete Maddy Nutt, I want to go ride my bike in Kenya! Maddy headed out to Africa to do the double, with the UCI Safari Gravel race, a one day event, and then Gravel Earth Series Migration Gravel Race, a four day stage race through the Maasai Mara National Park – think Lion King and all the animals. Just two days separate the racing, so recovery will be key!

Maddy headed out to Africa, and Rwanda, early for some altitude training, and actually to compete in another race first. Unfortunately, this race was subsequently cancelled, yet that didn’t stop Maddy from making the most of the opportunity and experience. We caught up with Maddy to find out more about this incredible trip and races.


Tell us about Migration Gravel? Where is it? what is it? 

Migration gravel race is one of the world's toughest gravel races! Set in the Maasai Mara national park in Kenya, it consists of four brutal point to point stages with camping in between and no lack of wild animals throughout. 

Is it a self sufficient stager race, or do you have a support crew? and also set up your own tents? 

MGR is fully self-sufficient within each stage of the race, so you don't have anyone out there to help you. However, at the end of each stage your camp is set up for you by the race organisation, and food etc is provided. The shower and camping situation varies from camp to camp but in the most remote parts of the race they set up cubicles where someone empties a hot bucket of water on you! 

You came 2nd at Migration Gravel 2023? How was that race? 

I absolutely loved MGR last year. It was definitely the highlight of my season, and coming 2nd was a huge achievement for me. It was super tough, but I found that I coped well with the adverse conditions and challenges the race threw at me, and was actually strongest on the last day where I took the stage win by over 30 mins.

Assume the goal is to win this year? ;-)

I'd absolutely love to take the win this year, but I also am fully aware of the strength of some of the women I'll be racing, as well as the multiple factors that play into a stage race win, and how easily something can go wrong.

What did you learn from 2023, that you have brought to 2024

My main learning point was to bring clean kit for each stage! Last year I definitely was jealous of riders wearing fresh kit every day, and I have decided that fresh kit is a priority in limited baggage space. Beyond this, I also am more aware of potential conditions, particularly mud, and I am running narrower tyres to allow for more clearance.

How do you prepare for a race like this? 

MGR is definitely a hard race to prepare for. So much of the race is mental over physical, and mental resilience is something you build over a long period of time. Physically, I have done a lot of long endurance rides with limited stops, and built up my training volume so I am as physically fit as possible.

What does your bike set up look like?

I'll be riding a custom Ribble Gravel SL with special Parcours wheels I can't fully chat about. These are paired with Panaracer Gravelking X1 tyres (40s). I also have inserts in, for extra puncture protection. I'm not running a MTB cassette as the hills on the course last year were long but not overly steep.

What tips would you give to someone interested in taking on Migration gravel?

Go for it! It is a huge challenge but definitely an experience that changes you as a person.

Why is it a race that people should add to their bucket list?

The race really pushes every rider physically and mentally and I believe that the value in this is huge for personal development. The race also has an amazing community feel to it.

You travelled out early to spend some time at altitude in Rwanda? what's the gravel riding like there? 

When I made my race plan, I was planning on doing a UCI race in Rwanda on my way to Kenya, but unfortunately the race was cancelled with very little notice. Instead of racing, Tugende a bike hostel and cafe here offered to host me for an altitude camp, so I am going to use this week to train here, and move up to higher altitude as well to get some training in with even less oxygen! So far, I have nothing but huge compliments for Rwanda, its gravel and its people. I have been welcomed with huge open arms and the gravel I have been shown has been out of this world. Initially I was disappointed about the cancellation of the race, but the upside has been more training miles in the most incredible scenery here. 

How do you embrace the local community and vibe and what is it like?

I connected with a local cyclist here, and she has been a great guide whilst in Kigali. We met at Migration Gravel Race last year, so it is amazing to be in her home country and be shown all her favourite spots. Rwandans are so welcoming and excited about people visiting their gorgeous country, and the vibes here are chill and friendly. Definitely somewhere I'd encourage anyone who loves gravel riding to visit. It is a secret gravel mecca.

Any unique experiences (apart from the whole thing I'd imagine ha ha

Today I rode past a man with an entire door on the back of his bike...that was pretty unique! The taxi system here is on the back of moto bikes, and they call them 'taxi motos'. There are also bike motos, and I am pretty keen to get on the back of one before I make my way over to Nairobi!  


Maddy raced the UCI Safari Gravel event, first, and WON!! Her first UCI win and what a way to do it! 

“So excited to have won the Kenyan round of the UCI gravel World Series. Winning a UCI race was not something I thought was achievable for me, and I crossed the line incredibly elated and overwhelmed. Heading into Migration this has given me good confidence in where my fitness is at, but I’m also aware that with only 2 days between races, recovering in time will be quite a challenge!” – ED: I would imagine not just physically but emotionally too after her first win. 

After Safari Gravel Maddy headed to the Migration Gravel event, part of the Earth Gravel Series. With some stiff competition from the likes of American Sarah Sturm, Maddy held her own, backing up from Safari and delivering consistent results each day! She hung with the leading women, and had a great event, finishing once again on the podium in third. A huge achievement with the two races, congratulations Maddy from all the Parcours team!