Rugby legends in Eston

2009-07-25 00:00

THE 2009 Illovo Eston MTB Challenge to be held on August 2 at the Eston Farmers’ Club in KZN has drawn a high-profile and competitive field, and not just from the mountain biking world.

With entries confirmed from the MTN Energade and DCM Chrome squads, the fierce and sometimes violent battle between Kevin Evans and Brandon Stewart is set to continue in the 60-km Illovo Marathon. Both these riders have assembled a full squad in an effort to nullify any advantage the other may have. The Garmin Adidas team has also entered their full team, and team leader Marc Bassingthwaighte will be looking to take advantage of any weakness or moment of indecision shown by one of the other more fancied teams.

A very strong women’s field has assembled to compete for the excellent prize money on offer which is equal in every way to the men’s purse, which, thanks to the Sponsors, presents a first prize of R10 000. Tania Raats and Hayley Smith will head up the local Bell Equipment team. KZN’s newly acquired endurance queen Jeannie Bomford, Robyn Adendorff and Samantha Oosthuizen will all be on the start line in what will be the strongest women’s field seen locally in recent years.

In addition to the riding, Aquelle and Windhoek refreshments, ice creams, goodies and prizes are all available to entrants. Pre-entries will be open at www.roag.co.za until July 29, and late entries will be accepted at registration on Saturday, August 1 from 2 pm, and Sunday, August 2 from 6  am. Remember, only pre-entries qualify for the high-quality moisture-management shirt — a signature of this event.

The eLan South African Rugby Legends, led by ex-Scottish and Springbok hooker John Allan, have pledged their support for the Challenge.

Ex-Natal Sharks and Springbok rugby players will be swopping rugby boots for cycle cleats and baggy shorts for tight lycra.

One of “Natal’s” most capped centres, Jeremy Thomson, is already a fully fledged mountain biker competing on a par with South Africa’s established professional riders. He will be competing for a win in the overall and age categories of the 60-km Illovo Marathon.

At the other end of the scale, household names like John “Slugger” Slade, Wayne Fyvie, Shaun Platford, Trevor Halstead, Craig Jamieson and the legend himself, John Allan, have all been invited by the SA Rugby Legends to attend the day. These legends will all be competing in the less demanding distances of 40 and 18 km, but you can be sure that the action on the course will be on a par with a full rugby international.

Mountain biking has been identified by Allan as a good way of getting the Rugby Legends into communities that have shown excellent service to the sport of rugby, as well as a means of keeping the guys “relatively fit” after their competitive rugby days are over.

Gary Fyvie, brother of Sharks stalwart and tearaway flanker Wayne, farms in the Eston district and is chairman of the Beaumont Eston Farmers’ Club. The farmers’ club is the host of the mountain bike event which is held to raise funds for the community and to assist with various community projects. Over the past three years approximately R250 000 has been raised for the community, funding projects like fencing around farms schools, repairin­g a roof of the local church, shelving for school books and a contribution to a resource centre for the Eston Primary School.

Without outside contributions, these projects would never have been possible.

The ever approachable Legends team will be available after their rides to sign autographs and chat to any aspiring youngsters who are thinking of rugby as a career.

For more info on the Illovo Eston MTB Challenge, go to www.illovosugar.co.za and click on the race logo for more information. Or look at www.roag.co.za for entry details.

 

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