MTB race sets new endurance standard
9 May 2012
The inaugural 36ONE MTB Challenge, held in Oudtshoorn in South Africa's Western Cape province over the past weekend, broke new athletic endurance ground and celebrated the birth of a new format of mountain bike challenge.
The 361km race, which followed a relatively circular loop, and which had a 36.1-hour cut-off limit, revealed a unique hybrid event incorporating elements of stage racing, marathon racing and 24-hour racing.
"It's an event that challenges in so many ways because it requires both day time and night time riding," said Carel Herholdt of Dryland Event Management, the company that manages the 36ONE MTB Challenge.
"It's also a non-stop race, which really tests your endurance capacity and pacing judgment."
The event started at 21:00 on Friday, 4 May, with a cut-off at 09:06 on Sunday, 6 May.
"A total of 89% of the entrants completed the event, which shows that while it offers a significant endurance challenge, it's not out of reach for the majority of committed mountain bikers and even weekend warriors," said Herholdt.
"The team that finished third in the relay section, Wilderness Wheelers Grand Masters, comprised four riders with an average age of 62. That just shows how well this race accommodates all types of riders."
Steven Liptz, co-founder of 36ONE Asset Management, the title sponsor, attended the event and was amazed by its impact.
"If you consider that the race distance is close to half that of the entire Cape Epic, and that the riders rode through night and day and some into night again, in temperatures that ranged from close to zero and up to over 30 degrees Celsius, you realise what a remarkable event this is," he remarked.
"We plan to grow the 36ONE MTB Challenge in future, both in terms of rider value and participant numbers," Liptz added.
"Because of the relay option, it's an event that anyone can actually be a part of, which makes it quite special."
Men's solo category winner, Christiaan van Zyl, a 40-year-old businessman from Cape Town, was full of praise for the inaugural edition of the event.
"We were very fortunate it was the 'super' full moon and there was no cloud cover. It really made the night-time riding easier, but obviously it was essential to have a decent headlight too," he said.
"I didn't go to the race with the aim of winning, but I did want to do well, as I really enjoy my endurance events," he added.
"The event was extremely well organised," Van Zyl continued. "There was a refreshment point every 30km or so with all sorts of good food on offer. You don't really need a back-up team.
"The route wasn't too technical – more an endurance test than a skill test, but very worthwhile."
First across the finish line in a time of 15 hours, 27 minutes and 13 seconds was Team C4D, a two-rider team comprising Jacques van Staden and Danzil Afrika. Incredibly, after a total distance of 361km, they edged race-long rivals, Tony Conlon and Pete Stopforth of Marsilio Projects, by just one second!
The first multi-rider team (non-relay) home in 18 hours, 01 minute and 46 seconds was the three-man Screaming Eagles unit of Colin du Plessis, Jan Zonnestein and Paul Micklewood.
Christiaan van Zyl won the solo men's race in a time of 18 hours, 17 minutes and 41 seconds. Stephen Drew (18:59.39) and Kevin Taljaard (19:22.22) finished second and third respectively in an event that saw the majority of the entrants (both solo and teams) finish inside 24 hours.
In the women's solo race, highly decorated veteran athlete and former Absa Cape Epic winner, Hannele Steyn, claimed the honours, finishing an impressive sixth overall in 19:43.24.
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