MTN Ultra Marathon, Wellington Gravel Travel, 110km, 2950m
Almost exactly one year later, including four trips to the hospital, and I finish the 2013 MTN Gravel Travel one position worse than the previous year. Although scratching my head for some positives to take out of this race, I have to remember that it was only five weeks ago, in the same town, whilst spectating at the Epic, that I had only just gone for my first ride. And after all that I’ve been through, the body is still fine, and the problems I had are a thing of the past.
So moving on, at least this year’s race was bathed in great weather, and a really tough and technical course was set for us to race. The track would have no less than nearly sixty kilometers of flowing single-track, and three thousand meters of climbing, making it slow and demanding. As all the riders knew, the last forty kilometers is really tough, and so the pace wasn’t too fast from the start. However it didn’t take long before the top riders started to increase the tempo. This would be just too fast for me, recovering from a lingering cold post Joberg2c, I would have to settle for my own pace on the day, and use it for good training.
I had a few moments when I thought I may just throw the towel in for the day, I had Kari and Rubes with me for seconding, and the temptation to stop was great. On the other hand, I just pressed on with the task at hand, and decided to not think too much about the direct outcome of the race, but rather the good riding and training adaptions I would be making.
As we all knew, the last forty kilometers was brutal, and many of the top riders would feel the effects of a super hard course in the final section.
I cannot comment what happened at the head of the race, but it sounded like Max Knox was the dominant rider as expected, whilst Lourens Luus put in another great ride to take second place ahead of a class field of riders.
I would scrape in for tenth place, and only just made the podium call up to round out the first ten. But having considered all I’ve been through, and where I’ve come from, I was quietly happy with my form and build up thus far.
Thanks to Kari and Ruby for coming with me, and watching me suffer through not quite some of my finest five hours. Always there for me through thick and thin.
Next race sees us making the trip back to Underberg for the Nedbank Sani2c. We will have two teams, Brandon and Neil, and guest rider for FedGroupITEC, Gawie Combrinck and myself. It’s a super competitive field this year with a few subtle route changes. I’m looking forward to some different dynamics whilst racing with a partner, it has been awhile!
Till then, cheers.
1st Max Knox (EAI)
2nd Lourens Luus (RE:CM)
3rd Mathys Beukes (Scott)
10th Kevin Evans (Fedgroup-Itec)