Inspired by the legend of Burry Stander, mountain bikers were in top form and had a blast in the Lake Eland Classic on Sunday.
Cloudy and cool weather greeted scores of cycling and running enthusiasts for one of the most popular events on the local sporting calendar. One of the late great Olympian Stander’s favourite events, the Lake Eland Classic served as the final round of the South Coast Fever MTB and Trail Run Series.
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.
With the series winners far from determined and the competition still wide open, heated battles were expected and that’s exactly how things played out at the picturesque Lake Eland Game Reserve.
Registration opened at 5am and the 20km trail run got underway at 6am, followed by the 10km at 6.15 and the 5km fun run at 6.30, all after a briefing by Charles Stander. Then it was the mountain bike racers’ turn. The 25km race got underway first at 7.30, followed by the 45km classic at 7.45 and the 10km fun ride at 8.15.
When the dust settled, Andrew Hill and Brennan Anderson shared the 45km men’s classic honours with Johandre Marx finishing third. Shelley Higgo was the clear winner of the 45km women’s race, where Debrah Thomas and Storm Langley finished a distant second and third respectively.
Kyle Osbourn clinched the 25km men’s title ahead of Tayne Rudling and Rueben Vos, while Joanne Engelbrecht held off closest rivals Kaye Whitwam and Claudia Monin to win the 25km women’s race.
Series organiser Michael Bester from One Way Productions said it was a spectacular event.
“I was once again reminded of how lucky we are to live down here in 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.
“Young and old, families and friends entered what they thought they could manage and had fun all the way. Who wouldn’t…being surrounded by deer, wildebeest and giraffe as you cycle within near touching distance…it’s an experience like no other,” said Bester.
He added, “The Lake Eland management team, under the leadership of Willie Kotze, once again pulled out all the stops and were gracious hosts and Mandie [Stander] and her team, powered by the spirit of the late Burry Stander, made up a team that were determined to give adrenaline junkies a great ride like always and they lived up to the true Lake Eland tradition.
“A big thank you to all the race and series sponsors for this amazing race and the 2019 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 2020 season.”
The series was sponsored by South Coast Fever, South Coast Tourism, Tiago’s, Sign Master, Hollard Insurance, Hibiscus Coast Insurance Brokers, Powerade and One Way Productions.
*Check back for the article on the series champions on Friday.
45km Male Overall:
1 Andrew Hill (01:58:25)
2 Brennan Anderson (01:58:25)
3 Johandre Marx (02:00:17)
45km Female Overall:
1 Shelley Higgo (02:27:15)
2 Debrah Thomas (02:39:10)
3 Storm Langley (03:08:06)
25km Male Overall:
1 Kyle Osbourn (01:07:48)
2 Tayne Rudling (01:08:01)
3 Rueben Vos (02:02:36)
25km Female Overall:
1 Joanne Engelbrecht (01:30:19)
2 Kaye Whitwam (01:39:13)
3 Claudia Monin (01:57:31)