What a race.
I am reminded why this race is my favorite one of all. It has more technical singletrack and seriaas rocky descents than any other single stage of any MTB race I have ever done, bar none.
It really does.
From a ride over a cement pipe, to large fixed rocks round Bufflespoort dam, to smooth flowing singletrack on the hiking trails in Mountain Sanctuary Park, to hectic smaller loose rocky descent to a portage river crossing and up a to the top of an almost-cliff, followed by a long technical climb on cut grass with loose rocks interspersed and a downhill of the same, to purpose built flowing singletrack along the Sterkstroom river, with bridges to cross over, and sometimes not, to technical rocky jeep tracks, and awesome rocky descents...
Man, I'm outta breath now :-)
This race is, to me, what epitomises what a mountainbike race should be. It has every aspect, with a definite lean to the technical, where a longer travel light all-mountain bike is not penalised like on virtually every other race I can think of, with their long miles of smooth dirt road.
The distance of 42km this year, may seem paltry, but it is surely the toughest 42km race this side of Alpine Heath (which I hear is, or rather was, no pushover ;-) ). It left me with just enough in the tank to be able to sprint the last 5km for a not too bad 2:30 finish, good enough for 32nd overall. The winning time was 1:57, which is flabbergasting.
In comparison with the long route which I did last year, the 42km has everything except the actual monster climb up Breedtsnek from the north along the 4X4 tracks and down on the dirt. Almost everything else on the long route is dirt road...
I firmly believe that in this case the half marathon is a better route than the full marathon.
Thanks to all for a wonderful day out.