When 18 year-old Patrick Belton (Team Jeep) pedalled over the finish line in first place at Sunday’s Husqvarna Classic Mid-Illovo MTB Challenge in KwaZulu-Natal, mountain bikers, trail runners, organizers and spectators celebrated an unforgettable day of sport and the great outdoors.
Good weather, a wonderful vibe and what many bikers described as “the best single track of any single day event” all combined to make a very memorable event. The cherry on the top, however, was the fact that the usually inquisitive rhino in the Gwahumbe Reserve Game and Spa was well behaved and only observed the frenetic activity from a distance!
Belton, who hails from a Seven Oaks farm near Greytown, did not expect to win. “I’ve been training for the Mountain Bike (MTB) Nationals in Port Elizabethnext weekend. It had been a hard week and my legs were sore,” he explained. He pipped Carl Calverley (2nd) and Mid-Illovo farmer Derrin Smith (3rd) to the post in 1:41:10.
This is not his first Husqvarna Classic Mid-Illovo MTB Challenge. Although he didn’t compete last year, he was placed in the top 10 in the 2010 event. He began mountain biking five years ago and won his first SA championship two years ago. He won the All Africa Junior MTB Champion at the UCI All African Championships inMauritiusthis year.
“This is a great event – there is a lot of media interest in the event and a lot of spectator support. The course designers have put a lot of thought into the track and made it very special. Also, there’s a lot of variety – you even get to look at zebras and spectacular scenery when you’re not concentrating on beating the rugged terrain,” he said.
The Husqvarna 40km Women’s Mountain Bike Challenge was won by Natalie Bergstrom in 1:59:04, followed by Julia Kate Colvin (in 2:01:35) and Nedene Cahill (in 2:03:38).
The youngsters shone in the Gwahumbe Game & Spa 18km Men’s and Women’s Fun Rides with sprog (11 – 12 years) Cameron Wright winning the former in 0:52:05 followed by Darren de Bruin in 0:52:50 and Andrew Edwards in 0:52:54. Sprog (11 – 12 years) Tiffany Keep led the ladies home in 0:56:00, followed by Kayla McCelligott in 0:56:26 and nipper (under 10 years) Sabine Thies in 0:59:21.
The iNsingizi 18km Men’s Trail Run was won by Derek Wasserfall in 1:18:47 and the women’s by Jetaime Ribbink in 01:41:17. The iNsingizi 8km Men’s Trail Run / Walk by Matthew Becker in 0:45:02 and the women’s by Paula Comrie in 0:45:33.
“Good weather really makes a big difference to the day and the weather man came to the party this weekend. Although the forecast was cold with possible rain, the actual weather started out chilly in the morning but warmed up later. We had perfect riding conditions!” said race organiser Craig MacKenzie.
He added that the 60m floating bridge that was introduced for the first time had proved a massive hit. “Bridges like this one are seldom seen at one day events or fun rides. It is positioned at water level which means that it sinks slightly as a rider enters it from the single track. It’s an unforgettable experience – almost like riding or skimming on the water. Believe it or not, only one bike – a tandem – took a tumble there and the skilled riders didn’t even take a swim!”
Overall, the Husqvarna Classic Mid-Illovo MTB Challenge & Trail Run was described as a well-orgnaised, professional race. It attracted a field of 1 000 – excluding the herd of zebras that came out of nowhere and joined a group of riders on the track.
The atmosphere at the Mid-Illovo Club after the race was festive with the returning competitors abuzz with war stories. Throughout, the water tables were hives of activity, the kids’ zone was busy all day and the bike wash was also exceptionally well received. The 1 000 entrants were thrilled with theCapeStormmoisture management caps in their goodie bags.
Husqvarna 40km Men’s Mountain Bike Challenge
- Patrick Belton in 1:41:10
- Carl Calverley in 1:42:23
- Derrin Smith in 1:46:50 (who hails from Mid-Illovo)
- Klaas Meintjes in 1:46:52
- John Ntuli in 1:48:40
Husqvarna 40km Women’s Mountain Bike Challenge
- Natalie Bergstrom in 1:59:04
- Julia Kate Colvin in 2:01:35
- Nedene Cahill in 2:03:38
Gwahumbe Game & Spa 18km Men’s Fun Ride
- Cameron Wright in 0:52:05 (Sprog – aged 11 – 12 years)
- Darren de Bruin in 0:52:50
- Andrew Edwards in 0:52:54
Gwahumbe Game & Spa 18km Women’s Fun Ride
- Tiffany Keep in 0:56:00 (Sprog – aged 11 – 12 years)
- Kayla McCelligott in 0:56:26
- Sabine Thies in 0:59:21 (Nipper – under 10 years)
iNsingizi 18km Men’s Trail Run
- Derek Wasserfall in 1:18:47
- Gareth Harrington in 01:20:40
- Donovan van Gelder in 01:23:44
iNsingizi 18km Women’s Trail Run
- Jetaime Ribbink in 01:41:17
- Tarryn Goble in 2:00:18
- Alison Wasserfall in 2:03:43
iNsingizi 8km Men’s Trail Run / Walk
- Matthew Becker in 0:45:02
iNsingizi 8km Women’s Trail Run / Walk
- Paula Comrie in 0:45:33