Three-peat for Marais and debut win for Keep at Eston MTB

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Despite a drama-filled final 600 metres, Stuart Marais made it a hat-trick of Illovo Eston Trail Challenge titles on Sunday while young Tiffany Keep rode away to claim the women’s crown at the Eston Farmers Club.

Given the nature of the course and the King and Queen of the Mountain prize falling inside the first five kilometres, gaining any form of early advantage was going to be crucial.

Expedient Africa’s Marais and TIB Insurance’s Andrew Hill managed to get that ascendancy after dropping the chasing Travis Stedman and Tyronne White.

“I have a pretty set tactic when it comes to Eston because of the way to race is set up,” Marais said after his win.

“You have to warm up properly because off the gun you are shooting for the King of the Mountain prize!

“We got away on one of the major climbs and then just worked together for the rest of the race.”

It was an interesting approach to the finish as both Marais and Hill took a tumble coming onto the cricket field that hosts the race finish. From there there was a frantic sprint but Marais got his nose in front and kept it there all the way to the line.

“I don’t know what happened!” Marais commented. “The front just washed out from under me and trying to sprint with twisted handlebars was quite hard!

“It was a great race and I appreciate all the hard work that goes into preparing the trails for us.”

Close but not close enough was the mantra for Andrew Hill. The Hillcrest-based rider is always positive no matter what the final result is.

“We pushed quite a high pace on the front so there wasn’t too much excitement until the final five hundred metres,” Hill said.

“I am really happy to come away with a second at a race that I usually have a few issues at so I am happy. Well done to Stu for an awesome race.”

Finishing in third spot in the men’s 60km marathon was Andrew Johnson who came from behind to just beat Tyronne White and Travis Stedman onto the podium.

In what was a dominant display Titan Racing’s Tiffany Keep raced away to her first 60km marathon title at the 2019 Illovo Eston Trail Challenge at the Eston Farmers Club on Sunday. (Anthony Grote/Gameplan Media)

The women’s race followed a very different path to the men’s showdown with Titan Racing’s Keep dominating the field to claim her first 60km marathon title at Eston.

Keep was forced to ride the 40km marathon in 2018 due to her being a junior, however she proved her worth with a dominant performance.

“I have always enjoyed this race and the route so to now tick it off the list is satisfying,” Keep said.

“Lately I have been focusing on the longer stuff so this was a great training ride and leg tester for me.”

Keep put in an early shift which fractured the women’s field and from there she didn’t look back as she powered home to an impressive win.

“Just before the QOM (Queen of the Mountain) there were a few of us together but I put in a burst and won the QOM.

“From there I just tried to keep on going and see how long I could hold that advantage over the rest of the girls.

“I am really happy that now I can say I’ve won every race at Eston except for the trail runs! I might have to put those into my long term goals,” she laughed.

Five minutes behind Keep was current Quattro ROAG Series, presented by Momentum, series leader Christie-Leigh Hearder and then a further three minutes back was Frances Janse van Rensberg in third.

The aQuellé 40km half marathon was another exciting showdown with Reece McCallum winning an end sprint ahead of Johandré Marx in second and Mitchell Potgieter in third. Euodia Swart was the first women across the line in the 40km race.

In the Tala 18km Family Ride the juniors tend to fly out of the box and this year was no different. Sean Yelland was crowned the race winner after a solid performance, followed home by Omar Wilson in second and Justin Swanepoel in third.

Emily van Heerden impressed and finished sixth overall over the 18km course while Riley Smith was the second girl home in tenth place and Errin Mackridge followed her in third and eleventh overall.

Anele Dlamini dominated the 18km trail run and blitzed the rest of the field in a one-sided showing.

Having won here in the past, Dlamini knew what to expect when he set off. With bigger goals on the horizon this race fits into a much larger picture.

“I am training for a few marathons that are coming up,” Dlamini said. “I have always enjoyed trail running and cross country running is a great way to build up strength that’s why I use it as part of my training.

“I felt really good throughout and the course here is always good which means that the times will be good.”

Sphelele Gumede came across the line in second spot while Linda Zondi rounded out the men’s podium

In the ladies 18km trail run it was Nokukhanya Memela who took home the line honours, ahead of Sarah Gray in second.

The 9km trail run was a much closer affair with the Merchants Change a Life team dominating the top five spots in the race.

Dumisani Shabalala was the eventual winner but it was a close call with Thulani Skhakhane finishing just seven seconds behind Shabalala in second.

Hlelani Radebe rounded out the podium just 15 seconds behind the race winner.

Young Jenna Fyvie was in dominant form as she powered her way to victory in the women’s 9km showdown.

Fyvie eventually won the race by just under seven minutes ahead of Bella Hackland in second and Anna Moodley in third.

More information can be found at

SUMMARY OF RESULTS – 2019 Illovo Eston Trail Challenge

Illovo 60km Marathon
1.Stuart Marais 2:26:32
2.Andrew Hill 2:26:33
3.Andrew Johnson 2:32:43
4.Tyronne White 2:32:46
5.Travis Stedman 2:32:47
6.Derrin Smith 2:40:08
7.Willie van Eck 2:44:00
8.Mazwi Smimango 2:44:01
9.Dean van Dyk 2:45:20
10.Gary Doyle 2:46:52

1.Tiffany Keep 2:56:21
2.Christie-Leigh Hearder 3:01:28
3.Frances Janse van Rensberg 3:04:47
4.Rouxda Grobler 3:07:35
5.Brenda Potts 3:15:54
6.Landy Puddu 3:20:08
7.Nadine Nunes 3:20:48
8.Claudia Slattery 3:20:53
9.Jean Hackland 3:23:04
10.Tamika Haw 3:24:38

aQuellé 40km Half Marathon
1.Reece McCallum 1:39:06
2.Johandre’ Marx 1:39:07
3.Mitchell Potgieter 1:39:07
4.Daniel van der Watt 1:39:15
5.Ethan Jackson 1:39:15

1.Euodia Swart 2:04:38
2.Sarah Ryan 2:09:22
3.Lindsay Everson 2:11:37
4.Ingrid Flint 2:12:40
5.Camilla Howard-Browne 2:16:12

STIHL 18km Family Ride
1.Sean Yelland 47:50
2.Omar Wilson 48:20
3.Justin Swanepoel 48:21
4.Joshua Johnson 51:35
5.Thomas Truter 51:55

1.Emily van Heerden 52:31
2.Riley Smith 53:47
3.Errin Mackridge 55:05
4.Jodi Mackinnon 59:31
5.Janine McMohan 1:00:06

18km Trail Run Men
1.Anele Dlamini 01:03:44
2.Sphelele Gumede 01:07:00
3.Linda Zondi 01:08:35
4.Mdu Zondi 01:09:58
5.Mxolisi Zondi 01:12:54
6.Thabani Msiya 01:14:24
7.Raymond Radebe 01:16:17
8.Mpilo Zondi 01:17:50
9.David Lamont 01:20:14
10.Grant Humphrey 01:22:21

18km Trail Run Women
1.Nokukhanya Memela 01:26:45
2.Sarah Gray 01:27:37
3.Apiwe Gaga 01:29:48
4.Patricia Dammann 01:35:25
5.Roxanne Vale 01:36:42
6.Hayley Mackinnon 01:37:05
7.Vyvekah Lumley 01:39:11
8.Bibi Bassa 01:41:53
9.Vimla Reddy 01:44:03
10.Lindsay Mienie 01:44:10

9km Trail Run Men
1.Dumisani Shabalala 34:35
2.Thulani Skhakhane 34:42
3.Hlelani Radebe 34:50
4.Sphesihle Hlengwa 34:52
5.Msawenkosi Mtolo 35:35
6.Mzamo Zondi 36:59
7.Roy Newlands 42:12
8.Jenna Fyvie 45:45
9.Michael Brown 47:31
10.Jack Mackenzie 51:00

9km Trail Run Women
1.Jenna Fyvie 45:45
2.Bella Hackland 52:10
3.Anna Moodley 52:18
4.Jana Dammann 52:23
5.Chanel Basson 53:07
6.Anneline Erxleben 54:32
7.Lauren de Freitas 54:36
8.Hayley Walker 55:52
9.Silvia Burton 57:24
10.Jennifer Dempsey 57:50

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