South African Marathon Champs by Gawie Combrinck
This weekend Johann and I lined up for the Ashburton National marathon series race at Van Gaalens Cheese farm that also doubled up as the National Marathon champs
It was a chilly start, with the thermometer’s dropping to -2 as we set of on the technical rocky 115km course. All the usual suspect were present and everyone wanted to earn the honor of wearing the National stripes for the next year.
The first few kilometers were flat and fast through the farmlands. We kept the pace high to ensure that we can be first into the first steep technical climb. The plan worked with Johann leading the pack up the climb to take the King of the mountain at the top. After that Johann got a gap with Nico Bell ( ReCM), Adrian Louw (Contigo), Brendon Davids (Kargo), Arno Du Toit (Scott). I was just a few seconds back with Ben Melt Swannepoel (Squirt/ Merida), Konny Looser (Wheeler iXS) and Darren Lill.
Melt was sitting a furious pace to get back to the front group. We opened a small gap Konny and Darren and rode across the leading five guys. With none of the other riders having teammates in the group I went to the front to keep the pace high. I opened up a small gap on the rocky descent and kept going from there ensuring Johann could get a free ride as the others had to commit to chase me down.
Taking a few risks and close calls with trees and massive rocks I had just over a minute lead on the chasing group as we headed out into the headwind on the district roads. Our tactics paid off with no one willing to commit to chasing me down. The gap soon opened to 5 minutes.
I rode a hard steady tempo that I knew I could keep up to the end and didn’t take too many risks on the rough rocky single tracks. Nico Bell and Darren Lill put the hammer down about 70km into the race up the first of the 3 steep climbs towards the end. This ripped the small chasing group apart and took massive chunk of time out of my lead.
Climbing up to the Greek Church I still had over 2 min lead on the chasers and with technical single tracks left to the finish I knew I had it in the bag if I made it down without technical problems. The chasers had to take a lot more risk and it would be a tough ask to close down the 2 minutes.
Fighting a few cramps the last 4km I brought my Merida home to take the win! Nico Bell came close to catching me, outsprinting Konny Looser for 2nd.
I’m honored to have the National Jersey for the year. This brings an end to a very successful first half of our season. Thanks for all the help and support so far.
- Gawie Combrinck 04:46.53
- Nico Bell 04:47.32
- Konny Looser 04:47.33'
- Lourens Luus 04:48.12
- Darren Lill 04:49.33
- Adriaan Louw 04:52.36
- Johann Rabie 04:54.03
- Ben Melt Swanepoel 04:58.43
- Brendon Davids 05:05.00
- Timothy Hammond 05:07.26