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Race Report: Chrissie Viljoen – 2018 Oubos 75km MTB Marathon

Race morning we were met by the sound of rain on our roof and knowing that the route would turn out to be a mudfest, we decided to race anyway.
Number collection took way longer than anticipated and I made the 7:00 start with exactly three seconds to spare as the organiser started him count-down.  This meant I had no time to ‘size up’ the competition and in hindsight maybe a good thing, as lined up was Olympian and current mountain bike marathon champ, Robyn de Groot and her decorated Epic training partner, 3 x Olympic medallist and 2 x World champion, Sabine Spitz! Talk about competition 😉

The start of the race we had some rain and the field quickly split up as we hit the first climb of the day.  This is also where I had to say farewell to Robyn and Sabine, not by choice, but by force!

Most of the race was on plantation roads, either heading up or downhill.  The scenery was truly breath-taking, making me wish I had my camera with me. Within the first 20km’s my back brake was gone and on more than one occasion on sharp downhills, it was a matter of closing your eyes and praying you make it out alive!  Mountain bike equipment ready does take a knock in muddy, wet conditions.

A few large waterfalls, a deep river crossing in the icy water we had to navigate on foot and some of the most beautiful dairy farms I have ever seen, were some of the surprises along the route. O, yes not forgetting the utterly delicious banana bread at one of the waterpoints!! My bike only has one water bottle holder so I have the convenient excuse for justifying a much needed ‘emergency stop’ to fill up.  The chocolates, Easter eggs and marshmallow-thingies were also great… 😉

Through the suffering, I was again reminded why I love mountain biking so much.  What a privilege to be out in nature, exploring places you would rarely see otherwise.  Riding through the lush green alfalfa fields with literally hundreds of African sacred ibis, all washed perfectly clean by rain and swallows all darting all around you catching insects.. all with a backdrop of the majestic misty mountains.  It is memories like these imprinted on the soul that I take any day over a medal or trophy…

At the finish, I was pleased to learn that I indeed finished 3rd in the women’s race behind Robyn and Sabine and 12th overall.  Robyn and Sabine were real machines out there and I wish them both Godspeed in their Epic preparation and race.

 

 

 

 

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