Saturday, January 15, 2011

MTN Ultra Marathon #1, Attakwas, Oudtshoorn

Kevin Evans, pic

Race Report as Team 360life Manager:
The following report is my account of the first big race of the season, but from my perspective and as a first time manager. Due to an appendectomy three weeks ago, I would be forced to miss one of my favorite races, and assume the role as manager/soigneur for my team mate Dave George in our newly formed Team 360life. As a new team on the block, with great sponsors, we felt we had pressure to perform and give them something early on in return. And the pressure would be all on Dave’s shoulders as I would have to sit the race out. However he has big shoulders and an even bigger match temperament, and taking on one of the best paired teams in the world, Team Bulls, couldn’t even stand up to his determination. And I was sure to pull out all the stops I could as manager and helper for him.

After helping Dave get ready for the start, Vincent and I, the soigneur from team Bulls sped off to the first of two technical feed zones. As the race was an official UCI category race, it meant we were able to feed and supply technical assistance at two points in the race. At these designated points, it was our job to ensure the riders had sufficient food, water and spares on hand should they require anything. Dave and I had strategized before hand what he would take and where. But after waiting and hour and a half for the first group to come through, it was all nerves as to who would be there and if Dave had no mechanical problems so far and was feeling good. All was looking good when he came though in a group of nine riders, including most of the favorites, amongst them both the Bulls riders and four time Cape epic winners, Karl Platt and Stefan Sahm, who were in SA enjoying the good weather and training conditions.
The real race would begin between the first tech zone at 46km, and the next one at 86km, after they go through the hardest part of the race, the infamous Attakwas trail. After four years, I knew exactly what awaited them. For Vincent and I, it was a matter of a short 25min drive to the next tech zone, followed by a nail biting 2hour wait for the riders to emerge. By the time they arrived, the group was only 5riders, still both Bulls, Max Knox and Adrien Niyonshuti, plus Dave.
After a quick feed, the guys set off to tackle the final 36km, and this would be where the winners would emerge.
Mean time I had to race to the finish, trying to make sure I got there ahead of the riders to see the finish and be there with cold refreshments, much needed in the hot conditions. Whilst all the while getting updates from the lead vehicle. When I heard Dave had broken away with the Bulls guys, the butterflies were racing and I was an emotional wreck, hoping and holding thumbs Dave could pull off the first win for the new and awesome team aboard his brand new Scott Scale29er.
I managed to make the finish in time, and to see Dave cross the line ahead of Stefan and Karl, and I had goose bumps and a lump in my throat as he pointed to his 360life logo on his chest, repaying their faith in us, and setting up an incredible start to our year.

It definitely gave me a fresh perspective on what we do to see it from another view, and trust me when I say, I’d much rather be in control of the racing, and leave the stress of worrying up to the managers and family. Big respect to all of them for handling that!

Thanks again to Carel and Henco and Dryland Events for having and accommodating us as usual, your support is appreciated and congrats on another world class event.

Now its time for me to begin training and get back to what I do. Thanks 360life for your patience and all our supporting sponsors. Here’s to a fantastic season ahead.
Next race will be the MTN Barberton Ultra Marathon at the end of January. I hope to be able to start there, and use it as training. For Dave, who leads the series now, he has some business to attend too! Till then, cheers.
Kevin Evans

Provisional results:

1st Dave George (Team 360life) 5hrs01min
2nd Karl Platt (Team Bulls)
3rd Stefan Sahm (Team Bulls)
4th Max Knox (DCM)
5th Adrien Nyionshuti (MTN/Qhubeka)

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