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.
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)