MTN National Ultra Marathon # 8 Hilton Dirt Fest

Ultra marathons are no joke.

 

Sometimes I think I forget how tough an ultra-marathon actually is. I haven’t done one in a while and whilst I had a good race this last weekend, it was still a brutally tough day out.

 

The cool thing about the MTN Ultra Marathon, which took place in Hilton this last weekend, is that it literally took place on the doorstep of where I grew up, and spent my earlier years becoming acquainted with my bike. To give you an idea of how close I’m talking about, the King of the Mountains climb literally goes right past the gate to my parents farm.

Off the start line.

Nearing the top of the KOM and the first feed zone.

 

The race started off at a modest pace and only really started to split up on the first major climb. Not wanting to go too deep too early on, I rode at a hard but manageable pace, and was soon in a group with Brad Stroberg (Fedgroup) and Guylin van den Berg (Bruce Reyneke Cycles). I did for a short stint, ride up to Greig Knox (Private Client Holdings-UCT) but then slipped back into a group with Brad.

 

We rolled well together and tagged onto Marc Bassingthwaite (Merida) as we went over the first KOM.  The top of the KOM was also the first feed zone where my Mom and Ash were on hand to replenish my bottles.

 

After spending much of the race together, Brad dropped off our group as he went through a bad patch. Marc turned off early and then I was solo with Greig, some 30 seconds ahead of me. I put in a big effort before the last feed zone and continued on after it, closing the gap down to some 15 seconds.

 

Unfortunately the old ‘out of sight-out of mind’ conundrum came into play. As we started the last loop with lots of single track, and thus with less vision of the rider up ahead, Greig slipped away from me.

Coming into the finish.

Images Credit: Ashleigh Smit

I came over the line in 10th place. A result I’m very happy with, especially considering the quality of the field on the day.

 

Max Knox (Specialized) took overall honours; edging our Kevin Evans (360 Life) in a tight sprint finish, with Adrien Niyonshuti (MTN Qhubeka) rounding out the podium.

 

Testament of how tough the race is, was the high number of DNF’s I later saw on the results sheet. I was glad to be one of the ‘surivivors’.