Mid-Illovo – Stuart Marais is making a habit of winning mountain bike races this year with the latest victory coming in the Husqvarna Classic Mid-Illovo MTB Challenge and Trail Run on Sunday.
In the main 60km race, the Howick mechanical engineer overcame a fall which could have proved costly, but he picked himself up and rode on to a solid three-minute win over defending champion, Mid-Illovo local Derrin Smith, who in turn was two minutes ahead of the in-form David Low.
In the women’s race, young 16-year-old Tiffany Keep once again showed she is a massive talent by winning her first attempt at the longer 60km event. The Thomas More College schoolgirl beat off the challenge of Christie-Leigh Hearder with veteran Natalie Bergstrom claiming third.
Both Marais and Keep were full of praise for the route which has been designed and created by local farmer Bruce Smith with the help of other local farmers in the area.
“The trails were phenomenal,” said Marais. “They have obviously put in so much work on the course and they have made then absolutely stunning. Everyone said I’d enjoy the race – and I did!
“I had a bit of a mishap on one of the bridges. My front wheel slipped out and I fell off as I was crossing it. Apart from that that I had a good ride and I felt really good.
“This season I would like to try and make a bit of a habit of this winning,” he said with a laugh.
Keep said she also “really enjoyed the single track” and it showed as she kept her older and more experienced rivals at bay on the fun-filled, but tough and testing course.
“I’ve participated in the race before but on the shorter distances – today was the first time I’ve done the 60km,” said the South African junior road team member.
In the 18km iNsingizi Trail Run Derek Wasserfall was dominant, outpacing Mark Mackenzie and Rhain Hoskins by almost three minutes despite a silly mistake which could have proved costly.
Wasserfall, who also won the Husqvarna Mid-Illovo Trail Run in 2012, said he was impressed by the course, but also had to overcome some issues before claiming the win.
“It was a very nice route – very fast which, as a road runner, is what I like,” said Wasserfall
“Mark Mackenzie who finished second and I ran together for the first part and then I got away on one of the hills. But then I went off the route and had to get back which meant I was about seventh. They told us which markers to follow and then I went and followed some of the mountain bike markers – it was completely my fault.”
In the women’s trail run, Xoli Madida finished up just over two minutes ahead of Robyn Greyling and Wendy Mills.
Jacqui Cochran, the marketing manager from Husqvarna, was delighted with the event:
“It is obvious from the riders and runners reactions that this race just continues to improve every year. It is fantastic to be involved in an event that is celebrating its 10th anniversary, and still continues to get better and better each year, while at the same time somehow manages to puts so much back into the community in the Mid-Illovo area.
“I think having the race here is such a win-win scenario: The riders and runners get to enjoy a fantastic event; we are able to reward a community that is a big supporter of Husqvarna; and with the help of entrants and other corporates we can contribute to uplifting schools and the community – like with 240 Uzwelo school bags which are pledged to children in the area by race goers and corporates such as Illovo.”
For the less serious riders and runners there was also the 45km Safire MTB race and a relatively gentle 18km Gwahumbe Family Ride as well as the 9km iNsingizi Trail Run.
1 Stuart Marais 2:30:41
2 Derrin Smith 2:33:56
3 David Low 2:35:56
4 Brennan Anderson 2:36:21
5 Komborero Bere 2:38:12
1 Tiffany Keep 2:56:04
2 Christie-Leigh Hearder 2:57:50
3 Natalie Bergstrom 3:01:15
18km Trail Run
1 Derek Wasserfall 1:24:33
2 Mark Mackenzie 1:27:12
3 Rhain Hoskins 1:27:22
1 Xoli Madida 1:36:47
2 Robyn Greyling 1:39:06
3 Wendy Mills 1:42:16