The third leg of the MTN Ultra Marathon series was held at Induna down in Hazyview. The course was much the same as the previous years and incorporated two laps of the final loop. It’s always been a great course and the organizers go out of their way to make fantastic tracks. It was looking like we were in for a mud festival again, but the sun came out on Friday and continued through for the race on Saturday, drying up the route and making conditions perfect for racing.
The ultra marathon, despite being 120km, didn’t stop some of the riders trying to push flat out from the gun, and those that did, did so at their peril. I was content to sit in the front group, consisting of about ten guys. In the front group were Dave George and Adrian Nionshuti, team mates for company. Also most noticeably were Mannie Heymans and Marc Bass (Garmin). As we began the harder second loop, Dave and I set the tempo up the big climb and got rid of the bulk of the group. However Mannie and Marc were not going anywhere. Adrian also was still hanging on and has been showing some great form recently.
Bad luck however for Adrian as he had a double flat just before we began the final 35km loop. Dave was playing catch up after Mannie and Marc attacked through the technical banana plantations and had about a 45second gap to close going into the final lap..
I stayed on their wheels up the climb, not feeling really great and was starting to wonder how things were going to end up. Just as I was going through my bad patch, Dave rejoined and knowing we were two against two gave me a second wind.
The final climb was a really tough one, and went up a brick path. Dave attacked the guys near the bottom, Marc doing most of the work to contain him with Mannie and I just following. They held Dave at about 60meters for nearly a kilometer before bringing him back, and as soon as they did, I put in my one big effort for the day. I went as hard as I could, making it count, as the others had no response. With about 18km left to the finish, my job was not done yet. I still had to negotiate a fair bit of technical singletrack, followed by quite a few ups and downs with a couple hard pulls.
Only once I hit the final descent to the finish did I have the race in the bag, and it was great to finally win a MTN Marathon again. The victory here would help my overall points for the series, which I have been leading since the second race. There are still four races to go in the series, and that’s a lot of kilometers when they are Ultras!
1st Kevin Evans (MTN/Energade)
2ndMarc Bass (Garmin)
3rd Mannie Heymans (Garmin)
4th David George (MTN/Energade)