Sunday, August 3, 2008
SA Marathon champs, Stellenbosch
Defending a title is always going to be tough, and especially on your third attempt, the pressure seems to add up as do the expectations. However with a strong mind,good team and good preparation, one can overcome this to produce the result you want.
As it had not stopped raining in the Cape almost the whole winter, the course was always going to be really wet, muddy and slippery. Most of my preparation went into the equipment for the bike, as Tyronne replaced basically my whole drivetrain before the race. I stuck to my trusted Conti Mountain King’s though and they handled the mud really well.
So the race saw two and a half thousand riders starting and I was quick to start setting the tempo on the first climb. As the first 11km went straight up, I tried to force the split early on and put everyone else on the back foot. Just before the king of the mountain, I saw Mannie was on his own riding across to me. I eased up slightly for him and once he joined me, the race was almost done and dusted bar any mishaps or mechanicals. Mannie and I drove it really hard, he was pacing the flats and downs, myself pacing the climbs. Mannie putting in some final Olympic prep was looking great and a big help on the day. There were some very interesting twists and turns to the course, with some fun singletrack and various “road” crossings. Even though the distance was short for a “true’ marathon, the route still had over 1500metres of climbing in it, tough by anyone’s standards.
On the final climb with about 8km to go, I rode a very hard tempo, and with Mannie nursing a slight flu, he dropped off and I was free to ride solo to the finish.
Melt at this stage had caught and past Mannie taking second place, third then going to Mannie. Another 1,2,3 for our team, and the SA title stays in the team camp for another year, job well done.