Monday, June 16, 2014

South African Marathon Championships

SOUTH AFRICAN MARATHON CHAMPIONSHIPS, PIETERMARITZBURG

A star studded field lined up at Cascades, Pietermaritzburg for the 95km marathon boasting a vertical ascent of 3500m! With only three weeks left before the UCI World Marathon Championships will take place on the same course, South Africa’s finest bikers were there to test their mettle and fight for the most prestigious national title. Over the last 11 years only five athletes have won the title, namely JP Pearton, Kevin Evans, Burry Stander, James Reid and Max Knox.
Max takes us through the race....
The race started steadily with a big group forming at the front. The course was mixture of punchy climbs and short technical descents. Kevin and I settled comfortably into the lead group. After a good build up in the past few months we were pretty confident one of us would be able to pull off the win. Kevin was coming into some really great shape, but sadly for him he was having some technical issues with his seat post that kept putting him on the back foot having to chase back a couple of minutes to the lead group each time he stopped to sort out the problem .
Approximately 40 km into the race Lourens Luus, one of the contenders for the title had a huge crash putting him out of the race. A small group then formed consisting of James Reid, Brendan Davids, Rourke Croeser, Kevin Evans and myself. Brendon kept the tempo steady to avoid chasing riders from Cannondale, EAI, Scott or RECM catching our group. With the course being so tough the time gaps where pretty big and after doing a really good job up front Brendan eventually dropped off the lead group. It was then just before the 70km mark that Rourke and James decided to turn on the gas. Kevin was able to stay with them for a while but I just didn’t have it in my legs to go at that speed. The two of them [Reid & Croeser] really showed great strength and maturity beyond their years and were super strong on the day.
The second loop of 23km was a case of survival for me, with about 5km to go I took the incorrect route where there course split. Unhappy to say the least, when I turned around to back track and find my way I noticed a totally disinterested marshal sleeping in the bush ! No excuses, it is the riders responsibility, so as disappointed as I was I rejoined the race in 6th place.

Back at the front of the race Reid had ridden off Croeser and at 83km had a 20sec lead followed by Kevin who was fighting hard to pull back some time on 1st & 2nd. In the end the SA title was not ours to take home this time as Reid crossed the line a few minutes ahead of Croeser with Kevin finishing in a solid third place.

Finishing 6th I was not terribly happy with my performance but in hindsight i shouldn’t have been disappointed. Having had a super busy schedule with The Epic, JHB2C and SANI2C the fatigue was bound to play a role so ultimately I was pretty chuffed.
Lessons learned and experience gained we continue our build up to the UCI World Marathon Champs later this month. With the SA MTN Marathons at Van Gaalen’s and Hilton in between let’s hope our preparation holds us in good stead for the big one.
We will keep you posted.
Max

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