Weather didn’t dampen ‘Sharks Adventure’ action

2015-12-15 06:00
Photos: supplied Kargo Pro MTB team's 40km Half Marathon MTB winner Alan Hatherly (centre), flanked by Cell C Sharks players (from left) Michael Claassens, Odwa Ndungane, Jean Deysel and Joe Pietersen at Sunday's STIHL Sharks Trail Adventure at Summe

Photos: supplied Kargo Pro MTB team's 40km Half Marathon MTB winner Alan Hatherly (centre), flanked by Cell C Sharks players (from left) Michael Claassens, Odwa Ndungane, Jean Deysel and Joe Pietersen at Sunday's STIHL Sharks Trail Adventure at Summe

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THE cool and wet conditions had little effect on the scorching action that set the trails of Summerveld Estate, Shongweni ablaze during the2015 Stihl Sharks Trail Adventure as Alan Hatherly and Hayley Smith recorded maiden MTB triumphs at the event while Al Leslie and Debbie Kitto ran to victory in the 18km Trail Run last Sunday.

A record field of cyclists and trail runners combined descended upon the picturesque upper Highway venue, eager to enjoy one last trail adventure for 2015 before easing into the end of year holidays.

Despite the testing, muddy conditions the competitive men’s field shot out of the blocks, catching Hatherly somewhat unaware and forcing the rapidly emerging young star to dig deep early on after a tough week of off-season base training.

“It was a cross-country-style 40km course and with it being December and us all being in our base training phase, we just had no leg speed at all, myself especially as I took a break a week earlier than others in preparation for Rio,” explained the young 2016 Olympic Games hopeful.

Hatherly and Kargo Pro MTB team mate Brendon Davids looked to work together early on to shake triple defending champion Andrew Hill however the resolute TIB Insurance competitor dug in and a colossal tussle ensued until the dying stages of the clash.

“Brendon [Davids] and I put in a bit of an attack after the first 10km but we couldn’t really extend the gap on Andrew [Hill] and then, with about 10km to go, there was a very steep hill that we couldn’t get up because it was so sloshy so we ran up and that allowed him to close in on us,” said Hatherly.

“Andrew then got past Brendon and I knew he was catching me too so I backed off.

“Once he caught me the two of us rode together until the last climb up the dual track to the finish where I attacked with about two kilometres to go.”

Hill’s second place comes as the first time in the event’s four year history that he hasn’t stood aloft the top step of the podium however the TIB Insurance star still enjoyed every moment of his day in the saddle.

“I don’t mind handing over the reins to an up and coming youngster who is such a talented rider and definitely South Africa’s next big name in mountain biking,” said Hill.

“This was another wonderful race, the rain was a welcome relief as we continue to go through a serious drought and to get 1100 pre-entries is one of the biggest increases in entries at any race on the calendar, just going to show that guys want to come and do a race at this time of the year!”

Kargo Pro MTB Team continued their dominance of the day’s mountain bike events as Davids, Siyabonga Njiva and Andrew Warr followed Hatherly home in third, fifth and sixth respectively while the team’s newly signed ladies – Smith and Frankie du Toit – finished first and second in the ladies race.

“It was really wet out there,” said Smith. “Frankie and I rode together from the start until she had a puncture with about six kilometres to go.”

“It is really great to get the win,” added the Kargo ace, who officially started with the outfit on Tuesday.

RMB Change a Life MTB Academy stars Mboneni Ngcobo and Mazwi Smimango claimed first and second in the 20km Half Marathon MTB event while sub-juniors Sabine Thies and Sarah Ryan enjoyed a memorable tussle for the women’s spoils.

Among those who took to the trails by foot, was Leslie who held off Nhlanhla Nzama and Stuart Laing while Kitto edged out double defending women’s champ Xoli Madida and Pippa McGregor.

Bongani Makathini added victory in 9km trail run to his fifth placed 20km Half Marathon MTB effort while Robyn Greyling won the nine-kilometre women’s dash.

The day also saw scores of youngsters relish their participation in the Sharkie Kids Ride while the Cell C Sharks squad’s presence and the Shongweni Farmers’ and Craft Market were some of the other stand-out features of the popular festive season kick-starting event.

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