After a very successful SA XC Champs and my wrist finally on the mend the SA Marathon title was my next goal.
With the level and depth of Elite ladies racing in SA having improved dramatically over the last few years I knew that it would be a tough battle for the jersey and that I needed a really focused and strong training block leading up to it.
Paul meticulously engineered my training plan but life threw a few spanners in the works and before I knew it 2 weeks had passed with very little structured training. I made the last two weeks count and being happy with the numbers from my Cycleops PowerTap booked my ticket to Cape Town.
EpicSports made the final touches to my GT Zaskar ensuring it was race ready with a Continental Race-King rear tire and X-King front to handle the course terrain in the predicted wet conditions and I headed off early Thursday morning with Amy for our flight to the Cape. Owe Paul a coffee or two for the early morning lift to the airport!
We were met by Amy's Aunt who had kindly offered a place to stay for the weekend and spent the next couple of days focusing and preparing for the race.
Waking up a few times the night before to howling winds and rain I knew as predicted we were in for a cold wet race and that was confirmed during our dark early morning drive out to the start at Diemersfontein Wine Estate.
I went through my normal pre-race routine trying not to shiver too much and soon it was time to line up at the start. After a quick race briefing we were off at a pace up the first climb with Araine, Cherise and Therresa battling it out in front.
I hung in as long as I could but soon knew I was in trouble and that I would have to hang back and settle into my own pace.
I fell into 8th place; Ischen, Amy, Mariske and Sam passing me. Keeping a steady pace, all the time hoping I would feel my racing legs coming back I caught Sam further up the climb and seeing Mariske not far ahead I focused on closing the gap.
The hard climb was rewarded with some awesome flowing single-track and my GT with it's Conti tires handled superbly. Unfortunately my nirvana was suddenly interrupted when coming around a sharp corner onto a rocky drop-off and finding two riders portaging I was forced to take a dodgy line to avoid crashing into them consequently sending myself over the bars. As Murphy would have it I tweaked my sore wrist which made any further descending much less enjoyable.
Luckily my bike was unharmed though and I was quickly on my way.
Sadly not even my USN Vooma Gels could help me find my legs and I lost sight of Mariske. With about 15kms to go Sam was hot on my tail and we passed Amy who had stopped with a puncture (Very sad as she had an amazingly strong and had been lying 5th). After quickly asking if she was okay I pushed hard to keep ahead of Sam but it was not my day and I had to settle for a disappointing 7th place.
Congrats to Cherise for a great ride in tough conditions and welcome to the sport of MTBiking :)
A big thanks to all my sponsors and supporters for believing in me, sorry I could not bring home the jersey but I'll be back to fight another day!
Thanks too to Advendurance for an awesome marathon course and event and Powasol for the much needed bike wash!
Till next time,Yolande