|On the chase..|
Photos by Zoon Cronje. Kevin Evans
MTN Ultra Marathon #7, Hilton College, 102km, 2300m
The penultimate race in the MTN Ultra series would see us tackling the hills and forests of the Hilton area and surrounds. As the points had worked out, the series would essentially be a two man race between myself and Max Knox, however the pressure was more on my shoulders as I would have to win the next two races to ensure a chance of winning the overall series.
The start field for the Ultra Marathon was relatively small, and a wet and muddy course awaited us, again, so making for a tough day out. Dave George and Gawie Combrink took control and set the pace for the first half of the race, ensuring a steady yet hard tempo that would make it hard for everyone, me included!
The real racing split up on the climb after around 45km, where Darren Lill set the pace, and soon thereafter, the group was down to around five of us. The course flowed nicely through the forest singletracks, and the Advendurance crew had made a challenging yet fun course, but was far from easy! Brandon Stewart, having had two brief stops to inflate a slow puncture, made the first move, and quickly gained 30seconds on the bunch. This what smart as a big attack from Max followed, and I fought to get onto his wheel. I managed to get there, but wasn’t able to follow on his next move, where I had to ride my own tempo. The gap was hovering at around 25seconds, and I was close to giving up, but I persisted and slowly clawed my way back to him just after the second tech zone.
|Lonely but hard chase.|
Once I had caught him, I was adamant to stay there, and we exchanged a few blows in the final 15km, but it looked like we were heading for a tight sprint finish. The final corner onto the finishing field was tricky and I had misjudged it slightly after having checked in in the morning, but not taking into account the spectators that would be standing there later. I was disappointed to miss out on the win, which essentially cost us the series, but pleasantly happy with the progression Dave and I have made in the last three weeks. All things being equal, we on track for a god show at World Champs in two weeks.
Next on the schedule will be home time for a week, with some final fine-tuning to the body and quality training. Then France, Ornans, here we come.
Provisional results: MTB
1st Max Knox (Specialized) 4hrs20
2nd Kevin Evans (Team Nedbank 360life) same time
3rd Adrien Nyionshuti (MTN/Qhubeka)
4th Dave George (Team Nedbank 360life)
5th Brandon Stewart (Fedgroup/ItecConnect)