Wessel Botha (Wellington) and Danielle Strydom (formerly from Potchefstroom, now residing in Wellington)
proved to be the strongest of the strong on Saturday 03 June 2023 when they conquered the revered Fedhealth Magalies Monster MTB Classic Full Marathon (+-65km) at the ATKV Buffelspoort in impressive times of 02 hours 51 minutes 24 seconds and 03 hours 28 minutes 51 seconds respectively.
Starting at the ATKV Buffelspoort at 08:00 the 2023 Fedhealth Magalies Monster MTB Classic boasted four events to choose from: a Full Marathon (+-65km), Half Marathon (+-33km), Fun Ride (+-15km) and Kids Event (2.5km).
The Full Marathon consisted of a +-65km route with a total ascent of 1433m and featured a good mixture of terrain. One of the most beautiful MTB routes in and around Gauteng and the North West Province, riders got to enjoy gravel roads, jeep track, rocky single track, technical climbs, and descents. About 20km of the total route was on farming jeep tracks in and around Citrus, Blue Berry and Cherry Orchards. The most iconic section of this route, the Monster Climb, was on the Maanhaarrand Pass Road going all the way up to the highest point on Breedtsnek at 1765m above sea level.
“The race started pretty hard, with Marc Pritzen and Shaun-Nick Bester trying to push the pace a bit,” says Botha. “Four of us got away, Marc, Shaun-Nick, Pieter and me. Approximately three quarters of the distance up the main climb of the day (The Monster Climb at Breedtsnek), Pieter and I managed to open a gap. We extended the gap on the rocky downhill. Pieter won the race last year, so he knew the route quite well and I just followed his wheel down. From there we just worked well together. There was one river crossing, where I had a big crash. Luckily, I didn’t get hurt, I just got a bit wet. The course was super rough and rocky, but we navigated it well and had no punctures. It was a sprint between Pieter and me at the finish and we’re super happy to take 1 and 2 on the day. The Fedhealth Magalies Monster is always a big challenge with a nice demanding route. Our sponsor, Giant Bicycles, is also involved with the event. So, we were representing them, and our bikes performed perfectly today. It’s a good event and we always enjoy doing it.” Pieter Du Toit came in second, while Shaun-Nick Bester placed third.
“I was a little nervous coming into the race,” admits Strydom. “I didn’t have a lot of competition last year, but this year Samantha Sanders joined the racing scene. So, I was nervous to start and knew it was going to be hard, but my legs felt good, and I decided to take a chance on one of the climbs at the beginning. I just went with it, and it eventually paid off. I managed to create a gap and keep it. Being a local, this is one of the ultimate races to do in the North West. It’s a really proud thing to be able to say that you conquered The Monster. Having won last year, I wanted to defend my title. I remind myself every year that it’s a super hard race. I don’t think you can ever be prepared for all of the shaking, but it really pays off and the vibe is great from start to finish. I’ll be back next year.” Nicolette Griffioen came in second, while Samantha Sanders placed third.
The Half Marathon featured a +-33km route that included an ascent of 711m. It might not be the big Monster Route, but it was still tough and fun to do. This distance is unique, as it is perfect for younger athletes that want to race each other in a highly competitive environment. It is also the perfect route for athletes that are new to the sport, as 70% of the route was very ridable and non-technical. It is, however, the Fedhealth Magalies Monster, and there were many sections that reminded riders of that.
Stephan Aldum finished first in the men’s race in a time of 01 hour 30 minutes 27 seconds, followed by Ronnie Purnell in second place and Wijan Nieuwoudt in third place.
Yvonne Prinsloo finished first in the women’s race in a time of 01 hour 48 minutes 51 seconds, followed by Zandri Grundling in second place and Kirsten Niekerk in third place.
The Fun Ride was just that, 15km (with a 271 ascent) of pure mountain biking bliss in the Buffelspoort Valley. The route offered an exciting variety of terrain including farming jeep tracks, untouched Magaliesberg Mountain trails and indigenous bushveld. Riders got to enjoy cycling in a beautiful indigenous bushveld forest that was easy to negotiate and perfect for new riders entering the sport of mountain biking.
Francois Van Wyk finished first in the men’s race in a time of 52 minutes 41 seconds, followed by Wynand (Jnr) De Goede in second place and Frans Naude in third place.
Magda Bronkhorst finished first in the women’s race in a time of 01 hour 08 minutes 30 seconds, followed by Tanicka Van Greunen in second place and Donita Visser in third place.
Says Jeremy Yatt, Fedhealth Principal Officer: “Thank you to every mountainbike enthusiast who joined us at the Fedhealth Magalies Monster MTB Classic today. We loved spending time with you all in the beautiful Magaliesberg, and trust that you had a fun time with your family and friends. We hope to welcome you back to our race again next year.”
LIVE ENTERTAINMENT: After an exciting day out on the trails mountain bikers and spectators where treated to a live performance by well-known SA Band, Rubber Duc.
FANTASTIC PRIZE: George Ziazias was the lucky winner of a Giant Stance 29 2 full suspension mountain bike valued at R33 990.00, while Mthokozisi Ntuli took home an Avalanche Cosmic 24″, a great all-purpose kids bike valued at R5 590.00.
CHARITY SUPPORT: The Fedhealth Magalies Monster MTB Classic proudly supports The Kindness Collaboration. Founded by Fedhealth and Operation Healing Hands (OHH), The Kindness Collaboration offers much needed support to South Africans who cannot afford quality medical care. All medical professionals associated with OHH provide their time and skills for free; the funds raised go towards expenses such as consumables and random medical expenses. When entering the event online, mountain bikers could donate towards the cause.
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