|Focused at the start.|
MTN Ultra Marathon #6, SA XCM Champs, Wellington, 110km, 2750m
Pics: Zoon Cronje.
The Gravel Travel in Wellington would determine the South African Marathon Champion for 2012, and it would be more than a worthy course to stage this event. Having won the race last year, we knew that a tough route lay ahead, but the conditions on the day would make it even harder and you would need to have everything go your way if you stood a chance of winning this once off prestigious race.
We were well prepared for the conditions, however everyone handles the extreme temperatures a little different, and I knew my body would battle if it got really cold.
The weather was actually all right for the first 75km, the course wound through some sublime singletracks, designed by Pieter Van Wyk. We were aboard our Scott Scale Scales 29ers and with all the climbing that lay ahead, the stiffer lighter bike would be more efficient. The bike was handling fantastically, really quick and responsive. There was not too much action upfront as a fair sized group of about ten riders stayed together. I was feeling fairly comfortable and we always knew the real racing would happen in the final 35km. No sooner had we hit this last loop, and the rain began to pour and temperatures plummet. Dave and I instigated the racing up the steep concrete climb, with the group splintering, and feeling like I was going well, I carried on for another half a kilometer until Max Knox came past and simply flew away from me.
Dave was able to follow him for a short while, and I tried in vain to catch up, but he was in another gear, one that I don’t have yet at this stage.
Then the fatigue started and slowly I was loosing my own personal battle against the elements and my own abilities on the day. I had no option than to ride my own speed through the remaining trails, battling the cold and wet whilst numerous riders passed me towards the finish.
It was one of those races where you put it all on the line and it either pays off or it doesn’t. At this stage I was holding hope that possibly Dave may still be in with a shout at a win, but my own race was over. It turned out that Dave would pass Adrien Nyionshuti in the final 3km to take second place but Max had extended his lead to well out over ten minutes, showing that he was at his best for this race, and took the green and gold national jersey.
|Still feeling good.|
|The end result was not pretty, 9th.|
The season was always going to be a tough one and the initial call at the beginning of the year was to focus on World Championships in five weeks time. It would be difficult to hold good form from now until then and still through to the end of the season, so our build up is and has been a progressive one, with our focus unchanged.
Next race will be a 115km marathon in Citrusdal next weekend, followed by an intensive two week training schedule including two big events, The Hilton Dirt Festival, also a MTN Ultra Marathon, and Hill2Hill Classic. So that’s a busy month of September coming up.
Provisional results: MTB
1st Max Knox (Specialized) 4hrs50
2nd Dave George (Team Nedbank 360life)
3rd Adrien Nyionshuti (MTN/Qhubeka)