Sunday, August 29, 2010

MTN Ultra Marathon #5, Cullinan

Kevin Evans, pic Zoon Cronje

The fifth race in the MTN Ultra marathon series took place in the small mining town of Cullinan, just North of Pretoria. Extremely hot and dry conditions would make for a tough race on a fairly rocky and technical course. As it was the first time I was racing in this area, I had no idea what to expect, and maybe sometimes this is a blessing in disguise.
I wanted a good result in the fifth race, as this would cement my chances of the overall series win, so decided to race smart and play a bit of a waiting game to see how the body was, and also how the competition was looking. In the first part of the race I was feeling really comfortable, and the decision to ride my Volcan full suspension was paying off, as the course was proving to be very rough and technical. The group had split after about 20km and soon it was down to about six riders, team mate Adrien Niyonshuti, Dave George(SA Findit), Max Knox and Brandon Stewart(DCM) and Marc Bass(Garmin/Adidas). However no one was really keen to make the racing and I knew I would have to take control sooner or later. I waited until about 75km, just past the feed zone to put my effort in. On one of the long rocky drags I rode a hard tempo and saw only Dave George responding, Max was battling to keep in contact after an early crash had left him slightly rattled. As I increased the tempo, our gap went up over the rest of the riders. Dave and I worked well to further our gap and I could relax now, knowing that even if Dave were to beat me, I should have done enough to secure the series. We still had to be careful though, all the way to the finish to avoid a mechanical or puncture.
The final 500m was singletrack, and fortunately I entered it ahead of Dave, giving me the advantage into the finish straight. I managed to just finish ahead of him, making absolutely sure to wrap up the series. This would be my sixth consecutive national series win, and with two races remaining in the series, it’s great to have no pressure at all to have to do well.
Max held on for third spot, and Adrien had a sprint finish with Jacques Janse Van Rensburg for forth and fifth, Jacques however just getting the better of him, although the fifth place should be good enough to keep Adrien in the top three spots overall.

Thanks to MTN/Energade and our team for all the support to win the series. It’s great to pay them back with another win in their own series.

Next race for me will be one of my favorite events on the calendar, Karoo to Coast on the 19th September. I will take an easy week now or a short break and then build up for the last few events of season.
Till then, cheers.
Kevin Evans

Provisional results:

1st Kevin Evans (MTN/Energade) 4:04:00
2nd Dave George (SAFindit) same time
3rd Max Knox (DCM)
4th Jacques Janse Van Rensburg (DCM)
5th Adrien Nyionshuti (MTN/Energade)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Worlds pics

World Marathon Championships, St Wendal, Germany

The 8th World Marathon Championships took place in the small German town of St Wendal. It hosts an annual marathon event every year, and this year we would race over the course. Speaking of which, was unlike any other of the previous seven Worlds that I’ve done. The course was super fast, filled with lots of short power climbs and descents, not a whole of really technical riding, but made for a really fast race. The winning speed for the 108km would be around 27.5km/hr, fast considering we still had to climb 2600m.
The first loop was much like racing a road race over narrow roads, and you were constantly fighting for positions. If you weren’t near the front, you were being stretched like an elastic band making the going even harder. I was well positioned and soon found myself in a split at the front of the race, consisting of around ten riders. We went through the 60km feed zone with around a 30second lead to the next group of around ten to fifteen riders.
The second loop of 58km was a little harder than the first, and it was around the 70km mark where the front guys really started to attack on the short climbs. Having been sick on and off for the past three weeks, this was where I lacked the depth needed to hold my place with the group.
After settling down into my own pace, I tried to conserve what little energy I had left, as the final 30km was really long and hard. At this stage my Epic partner caught me with a team mate. I tried to help pace him back but we were already around 90seconds behind. His pace at this stage was too fast for me and I had to watch them ride away.
The last ten kilometers I really battled with fatigue and just had to get myself to the finish, loosing another ten or twelve spots over the short distance.
I finished in 25th place, 8minutes off the winner, Alban Lakata, my Epic partner who I thought had no chance even to see the front of the race again!
With such a fast course, I was well off my 8th place from last year, although the time gap to the winner was less.
Burry rode a super race, his European racing, depth and constant exposure to this level really helping him, along with a similar cross country type power profile. Incredible to achieve SA’s first marathon medal, a sure sign that we have the talent to compete against the best in this discipline.
Although I was a little disappointed, there was not much more I could do given the circumstances I faced three weeks before the race.
Next year we will head to Montebelluno for what I’ve heard will be a tougher event than this year.
Thanks to MTN/Energade for their support they provided us and also CSA/MTBSA for the assistance, especially in getting us the SA kit within the “final hour”.
For now I will take a break and let the body recover completely to be good for the final MTN series races and some road team support.

Next race for me will be the MTN Cullinan Ultra Marathon, hopefully feeling back to normal by then and ready to try finish off the series.
Till then, cheers.
Kevin Evans

Provisional results:

1st Alban Lakata (Austria) 3:49:55
2nd Mirko Celestino (Italy)
3rd Burry Stander (RSA)
4th Ralf Naef (Swiss)
5th Christoph Sauser (Swiss)
25th Kevin Evans (RSA)
35th Dave George (RSA)