The South Coast Fever MTB Series got off to an exciting start at Port Edward Holiday Resort on Sunday.
The Sardine MTB Ride and Trail Run enjoyed great weather and a good turnout of over 400 athletes who competed in their choice of five events.
Cyclists rode in 45km, 25km and 5km events, while trail runners took part in 10km and 5km events.
As the first of four stops on the South Coast Fever MTB Series, John Bainbridge and his team pulled out all the stops to make it an amazing event.
Registration opened at 05:30 for the trail runners, while they were sipping some local-brewed coffee.
The 10km trail run was the first race of the day at 07:00. After a briefing by Dix Vorster, they got going, followed by the 5km fun run at 07:15. The trail run cut-off was 08:30.
Then it was the turn of the cyclists. The 45km Classic got underway at 08:45, followed by the 25km at 09:00 and the fun ride for kids at 09:15.
Vorster once again made the briefing fun, while complying to all the Cycling South Africa rules for the event.
The picturesque track led through the set of Hollywood blockbuster “The Jungle Book”, strelitzia, macadamia, banana and coffee farms, treated riders to the world-famous Clearwater Trail and saw them traverse the world’s smallest desert.
Reinhard Zellhuber (01:42:51) dethroned defending champion Andrew Hill in the 45km men’s race, Hill having to settle for second, with Bryan Powell completing the podium.
Natalie Bergstrom (02:05:14) went one better than last year as she won the 45km ladies race ahead of Bronwyn Evans and Debrah Thomas.
Brent Richter (01:09:52) retained his 25km overall men’s title in commanding fashion, with Allan Fabian and Dave Johnson finishing second and third respectively.
Deborah Hughes (01:32:56) won the ladies race over 25km and was joined on the podium by Kristin Thornton-Smith and Kiera Booker.
Meanwhile, Bhekani Yalo saw off Sonwabo Tshezi and Jabulani Magombozi to win the 10km men’s trail run, while Babalwa Mthwa won the ladies run ahead of Dannon Short and Zinnia Freitas.
“It was an exciting start to this year’s very high-expectation series, and it truly lived up to all its standards,” said series organiser Michael Bester.
“The route was amazing, well-marked and got lots of compliments from all the top riders in the series. Well done to all the people involved with this very tedious task – you did an amazing job.
“A big thank you also to all the owners of the different properties that gave permission for this great route to pass through their property. You made this a memorable event!
“There was a substantial food court available to suit everyone’s taste. Rib Rage and Tiago’s kept the tummies fed, while Beaver Creek and Great Railroad Brewery quenched the thirsts.
“There was lots of snacks…from Villa Dore selling their amazing green banana crisps and macadamia nuts, to the kidz zone keeping the kids happy with popcorn, slush puppies and cotton candy! There was truly something for everyone.
“Dura Cycles assisted with last minute cycle emergencies, while Ted and his team entertained the kids with face painting, colouring in, giant board games and jumping castles to name but a few. It really was a day of fun for the whole family.
“A huge thank you to the SAPS, NSRI and Traffic Services that is always willing to help, KZN Ambulance Services for their assistance and GP Security for premises security and assisting with the crossings.
“Thank you to all the amazing sponsors who made the series and the race possible – South Coast Fever, South Coast Tourism, Tiago’s, Sign Master, Hollard Insurance, Hibiscus Coast Insurance Brokers, Powerade and One Way Productions.
“The series is off to an amazing start and the challengers to be crowned South Coast Fever MTB and Trail Run champion are many.”
Race Two will be the Funky Pants Trail Run and Sappi Scottburgh MTB Race on 21 and 22 July respectively.