With sunny skies ensuring perfect race conditions, Andrew Hill was crowned overall winner of the 2013 Husqvarna Classic Mid-Illovo MTB Challenge, finishing the 40km MTB men’s race in an impressive time of 1:43:00. World-class athletes, excellent tracks, top-notch organisation and a fun-filled vibe made the mountain bike race and trail run a resounding success.
Racing in TIB Insurance colours Hill, who also won in 2009, set a blistering pace from the word go and broke away from the chasing pack, closely followed by BMC junior rider Alan Hatherly. “The pace at the front was reasonably fast for a classic in the first couple of kilometers” commented Hill. “As we hit the first hill I accelerated a little and Alan came with me, but I managed to get away from him in the Gwahumbe Reserve just before the water point.” Hill was followed by Alan Hatherly in 1:46:53, with David Low coming in third at 1:47:23.
Passing through two game reserves, the race is renowned for its scenery and tracks. “These were some of the best conditions and track I’ve ridden in a while and it keeps getting better every year. As for the scenery, we are seriously lucky to live in such a great area with such amazing trails.” Hill said.
The course has also become known throughout the province for providing true mountain biking pleasure, with just the right mix of tough climbs, fast open sections and sublime single track, including Hill’s favourites, the rockslide and the mineshaft.
Now in its 6th year, the 2013 race attracted its highest number of entrants yet. The trail run is also growing in popularity as this year’s event doubled the number of entrants from last year. Mountain biking (MTB) is one of the fastest growing sports across the globe and South Africa is no exception. Over the past weekend in KZN alone a number of world class events took place, including the 6th edition of this popular race. The Nedbank Sani2C, another massive race on the MTB calendar, finished the day before the Husqvarna Classic Mid-Illovo MTB Challenge & Trail Run and several top competitors headed straight from one race to the next, eager to test their skills and prove their endurance.
Professional world-class athlete Eszter Erdelyi was one of those competitors. Originally from Hungary, Erdelyi has lived, and raced, in South Africa for the past five and a half years. Finishing in 4th position at the Nedbank sani2c with teammate Melanie Palframan, she then went on to win the women’s race in the Husqvarna MTB 40km Classic the next day in a time of 2:09:13. Named Female Mountain Biker of the Year at the 2010 KZN MTB Awards, Erdelyi gave birth to a baby girl five months ago, making her back-to-back finishes even more outstanding. She’s a big fan of the Husqvarna race, saying it is one of the best courses she has ever ridden. She went on to add that it was a ‘special race and experience’.
Yvette Roberts came 2nd in the women’s 40km MTB race with a time of 2:20:02, while Landy Puddu claimed third in a time of 2:20:57.
Exceptional organisation and dedicated support from the organisers and sponsors were vital to the success of the day’s events and Both Hill and Erdelyi praised the world-class track, route marking and organization. Race organiser Brett Austen-Smith said “what a fantastic event – great turnout, weather and sponsors, who really got involved and embraced the day.”
John Ntuli and Jeannie Dreyer from RMB Change a Life Academy’s came 3rd in the Mixed race in Sani2C. John placed 13th overall at the Husqvarna Classic 40km. This is the second time John has ridden the race and he was quick to praise the organisers and enjoyed seeing the giraffes again.
The Gwahumbe Family 18km MTB men’s race was won by Jason Lewis in 0:48:53 and sprog Sabine ‘Beani’ Thies threw down the hammer in the women’s race, winning in a time of 0:58:18 that saw her place first in the women’s race and third overall in the 18km MTB.
Gareth Harrington took the win in the iNsingizi 18km Trail Run/Walk men’s race in 1:22:10, while Meggan Mackenzie won the women’s race in 1:49:26 and placed 6th overall, with the top three women placing in the top 10 overall.
Girl power was once again in evidence as Daneil Feldmann won the iNsingizi 9km Trail Run/Walk women’s race in 0:41:09, beating the men’s race winner Patrick Wynne into second place overall as he took the men’s race in 0:42:45.
This year’s Husqvarna Classic Mid-Illovo MTB Challenge & Trail Run was described by entrants as a fantastic race. With Husqvarna staff members providing moral (and liquid) support at the GU Energy sponsored water points and boasting some top quality mountain bike and trail run tracks, it has become one of the most popular MTB and trail running challenges in the country.
For race results, log onto www.roag.co.za and for more information, visit Husqvarna South Africa on facebook.
Husqvarna 40km Men’s Mountain Bike Challenge
1. Andrew Hill in 1:43:00
2. Alan Hatherly in 1:46:53
3. David Low in 1:47:23
Husqvarna 40km Women’s Mountain Bike Challenge
1. Eszter Erdelyi in 2:09:13
2. Yvette Roberts in 2:20:02
3. Landy Puddu in 2:20:57
Gwahumbe Family 18km Men’s MTB
1. Jason Lewis in 0:48:53
2. Axel Collyer in 0:55:44 (Junior)
3. Travis Stedman in 0:57:47 (Sprog)
Gwahumbe Family 18km Women’s MTB
1. Sabine Thies in 0:58:18 (Sprog. 4th overall)
2. Sarah Gray in 1:01:52
3. Tanah Rivalland in 1:04:50
iNsingizi 18km Men’s Trail Run/Walk
● Gareth Harrington in 1:22:10
● Sanele Lembede in 01:36:25 (Gwahumbe team member!)
● Peter Garthwaite in 01:38:39
iNsingizi 18km Women’s Trail Run/Walk
1. Meggan Mackenzie in 01:49:26 (6th overall)
2. Danielle du Toit in 1:53:49 (7th overall)
3. Corinne Thompson in 1:54:46 (8th overall)
iNsingizi 9km Men’s Trail Run / Walk
1. Patrick Wynne in 0:42:45
iNsingizi 9km Women’s Trail Run / Walk
1. Daneil Feldmann in 0:41:09 (1st overall)