MTN Ultra Marathon #8, Crater Cruise, Parys, 107km
Having spent the better part of about 6years trying to figure this monster ‘dash for cash’ race out, its safe to say we have a formulae! We were fortunate enough being able to come into this race today with two solid cards we could throw down on the table. The one card was for overall series, which Dave had the lead of going into this final event. The other card was my knowledge of the race, tactics, and the fact that if I could win, then Dave would win the overall series, then we all win!
So with our combined strengths on race day and the preparations that we’ve made whilst being away from our family for nearly a month in ensuring we can focus 110% on the job at hand and do it professionally will prove the outcome.
The race rolled out of the town and once we crossed the river heading out on the 10km tar section to begin with, the roadies would force an early break-away, aiming for the hotspots and King of the mountain competitions. Mannie Heymans (Garmin/Adidas), Jock Green (Ghost/Do it Now) and Pieter Seyfert (Team Matlosana) were the best riders in the break with the most experience and it looked good that something may happen from this.
But back to our race, all according to plan until we hit the new section of farm roads halfway up the usual KOM hill. It bottle necked here but I remained calm then had to work my way around all the riders who were coming out the back. I managed to work my way through to Dave, in perfect position just as we hit the big technical climb for the day. I immediately went into the climb first with Dave tight on my rear wheel, as we smashed it up the climb as quickly as possible. The race was splitting into pieces and once through this 8km section, we could take stock on the wider open gravel road of the damage done, who was there who was not etc.
The racing was on and all the riders, including the early breakaway guys we had caught, were with us, and all doing their bit in contributing to setting the pace.
So we had about 8 or 10 riders, but Adrien Nyionshuti (MTN/Qhubeka) was chasing from around a minute back the whole time alone. This was playing out perfectly for us as I drove the break hard to ensure we stayed away. Adrien needed to win today for Dave not to have a chance of overall victory in the national series. All the other riders seemed focused on Dave, and through the riverside singletrack, Brandon Stewart attacked alone and caused a bit of a stir as a small group chased him for around 7km. Once he was brought back, his teammate attacked, Jacques Rossouw but I immediately followed him and all it took was for the group to look around at each other for a few seconds, and we had our gap. This would become the race deciding moment. Ears pinned back we rolled hard and fast working together to establish our lead.
I’ve raced plenty with JR and like his style, so when we went, we went hard. At the water table, he stopped to fill a bottle and I put some air into my tire, which had lost pressure through some of the many rock sections. Back on the bikes and it was ‘full gas’ with our lead increasing all the time. 12km to go, I put in an effort under the culvert and up the rough grass climb, but for some reason near the top, my wheel got stuck in a rut and down I went. I jumped back on, and at the last water point JR had to stop to inflate his front tire. By this stage I had 30seconds, and that was all I needed. I know the final 10km only too well.
Hooking along at top speeds on the Scott Spark 29er Rc (Ruby) I was stomping through the rough sections when my front wheel hit a rock and flung me over the bars in a complete mess. I thought that was the end, as I picked myself up and jumped back on, everything working, seat skew and bar-end pointing to the sky. I Looked back, still had a fair gap, gave myself a pep talk, took a look at my Ruby sign, pulled myself together and off I went, now no stopping me to the finish line where I really savored and enjoyed every moment of winning my hat-trick of Craters!
My victory would mean that Dave would be crowned the new Overall Marathon Champion for 2011, but he still attacked his group and took 3rd place, nearly catching JR for second!
Dave and I can’t thank Nedbank 360life enough for the support they have given us this year. This was but a very small way of saying thank you, and for myself personally, it was affirmation that my string of ‘ducks’ is over!
Thanks to everyone who has supported us along the way, without all of you, none of this is possible.
Lastly thank you to Advendurance, for giving us exceptional World Class events and making it possible to attract the sponsors we have into this fantastic sport of ours. You guys set the benchmark, and you set it high.
1st Kevin Evans (Nedbank Team360life) 3hrs27min
2nd Jacques Rossouw (Itec Connect-Kathea)
3rd Dave George (Nedbank Team360lfe)
4th Brandon Stewart (Itec Connect-Kathea)
5th Ben Melt Swanepoel (Specialized)
Next race, will see us heading down for a week into the Klein Karoo and Garden Route for the Seweweekspoort and then the team 6day stage race, The Cape Pioneer Trek. We will use this tough race to fine-tune our equipment for the following years Epic.
Till then, cheers.