Happy trails in Lake Eland Classic – bumper photo gallery

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Quintin van Jaarsveld

The Lake Eland Classic enhanced its reputation as the most spectacular race on the South Coast mountain biking calendar on Sunday.

The beautiful Lake Eland Game Reserve was the venue for the fourth and final round of this year’s South Coast Fever MTB and Trail Run Series.

Powered by the Burry Stander Foundation, the race was one of the late, great’s favourite events and there was once again a special feeling in the air as riders remembered South Africa’s greatest ever mountain biking talent.

With the series drawing to a close, it was a heated battle to get valuable points as the winners were far from determined and the competition was still wide open and up for grabs.

As the red sun was rising over the mist covered reserve, it was clear that it was going to be a great day for mountain bike racing and trail running.

After a break of more than two months, it was time to get back to some series racing and there was a definite expectation and excitement in the air.

Registration opened at 5am and the 20km trail run got underway at 6am, followed by the 10km at 6.15am and the 5km fun run at 6.30am, all after a briefing by Charles Stander.

Then it was the mountain bike racers’ turn. The 25km got underway first at 7.30am, followed by the 45km at 7.45am and the 10km fun ride at 8.15am.

Young and old, families and friends entered what they thought they could manage and had fun all the way, being surrounded by deer, wildebeest and giraffe within near touching distance.

In the 45km men’s race it was Brennan Anderson who bested Hendrik Bester and Darren Purtell to take the spoils, while the 45km women’s race saw Debrah Thomas triumph, with Riana Niehaus and Caroline Storrar completing the podium.

Brent Richter reigned supreme in the 25km men’s race, where he was joined on the podium by Roy Newlands and Niels Richter, while on the women’s side, Ann du Plessis stormed to victory with Debbie Malcolm and Phyllis Ramos a distant second and third respectively.

The 10km fun ride was thoroughly enjoyed by families and casual riders.

First home in the 20km men’s trail run was Themba Xesibe, followed by Benjamin Goodwin and John Catt, while Dawn Nunes won the women’s run ahead of Inika Curnow and Kim Stewart.

Goodwill Nhlumayo got the win in the 10km men’s trail run ahead of Eric Ndovcla and Steven Gill, with Karmen Nash seeing off Kerry Herbert and Stacey Dewe to win the women’s event.

Finally, Ewan Grobler was first across the finish line in the 5km men’s trail run, followed by Henrich Grobler and Nicholas King. Brigette von Dubbenbrock won the women’s run, and was third overall. Joining her on the women’s podium were Olivia King and Angela Bunge.

“Today I was just reminded again of how lucky we are to live down here on the lower South Coast. We have access to some of the most amazing venues and they don’t come much better than Lake Eland Game Reserve,” said series organiser Michael Bester.

“After this week’s rain and cold weather, everyone was worried about the race conditions, but it couldn’t have been better. The sun was out and it was a real South Coast summer day.

“Lake Eland management pulled out all the stops and was gracious hosts and Mandie Stander and her team, powered by the spirit of the late Burry Stander, made up a team that was determined to give adrenaline junkies a great ride like always, living up to the true Lake Eland tradition.

“Thank you to all the race and series sponsors for this amazing race and the 2018 South Coast Fever MTB and Trail Run Series. It’s been the greatest and most challenging one to date and we are looking forward to an amazing 2019 season!

“I would deeply like to thank our series sponsors South Coast Fever, Ugu South Coast Tourism, Tiago’s, Sign Master, Hibiscus Insurance Brokers, Hollard Insurance, Powerade and One Way Productions for the best series yet.”

Round One review: Sardine MTB Ride and Trail Run a smash hit
Round Two review: Super weekend for riders and runners in Scottburgh – photo gallery
Round Three review: Exciting action in Ingeli MTB Ride and Fun Run – photo gallery

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