Burry's marathon win | SASCOC - SASCOC

Burry’s marathon win

After campaigning on the UCI Cross-country World Cup circuit for the past six months, Olympian Burry Stander (Specialized USN) made a triumphant return to mountain bike marathon racing on Sunday when he won the Sunday Tribune Jeep Hill2Hill in Hillcrest, KwaZulu-Natal.

It was Stander’s fourth win in the 105-kilometre race from Hilton to Hillcrest, but it was one of the toughest according to the 24-year-old Port Shepstone resident.

ÔÇ£It was very hot today, which always makes the race harder, but it is a tough course and it’s long ÔÇô a proper challenge. It’s great to have world class races like this right on my doorstep,ÔÇØ said Stander, the 2011 South African Marathon Champion and 2008 Beijing Olympics finalist.

David George (Nedbank 360Life) finished second ahead of another local rider, Brandon Stewart (ITEC Connect). Namibian mountain biking legend, Mannie Heymans (Garmin adidas) and Kevin Evans (Nedbank 360Life) rounded out the top five places overall.

Stander made his winning move at his customary spot and his rivals simply had no answer.ÔÇ£There’s a hard climb with about 30km to go followed by technical descent. It’s where the winning move has usually happened┬á when I’ve raced,ÔÇØ explained Stander. ÔÇ£A group of eight of us started the climb together and by the top, it was just Brandon, Kevin and David left with me. I managed to get a gap on them on the descent that followed and then I built up a lead from there onwards.ÔÇØ

Stander’s winning time was three hours and 55 minutes, impressive considering the addition of almost 20km of singletrack to the route compared to previous years, which makes the course more challenging.

ÔÇ£I was quite surprised at my endurance today. I haven’t raced longer than two hours for six months so wasn’t expecting to get stronger as the race went on,ÔÇØ said Stander, who in April this year became the first South African to win the ABSA Cape Epic.

Ischen Stopforth and Yolandi du Toit (both Team bizhub) were first and second respectively in the women’s category.

More than 1000 participants competed in the 105km distance event, making it one of the most popular marathon distance mountain bike races in the world. Temperatures soared into the mid 30s, with coastal humidity making conditions even more challenging.