Buys wins his first MTN marathon

Cluer captures women's race

The last event in the MTN National Series took place on Sunday. The ultra marathon for the elite men had to be shortened for the day due to extreme heat but that did not affect the outcome of the event after Philip Buys (Garmin Adidas) rode to his maiden victory of the series in convincing style. Ian Don-Wauchope was second, and Justice Makhale (MTN Energade) finished third.

In the women's race, Eszter Cluer (Jeep) defeated Samantha Oostuizen (WIN Karsten Cycles).

In a noteworthy performance, South Africa's World Championship junior bronze medalist Candice Neethling (DCM) rode a brilliant race to finish fourth overall in the MiWay Half Marathon.

Men's Ultra-marathon race

Philip Buys (Garmin adidas) made a comeback with his win in the ultra-marathon men's race at the Fifty Miler. His win moved him up into second place overall in the series.

Buys started his series campaign real slow, with the emphasis being on slow. He decided not to compete in the MTN-series' first race in Barberton. Which meant he lost out on the points. Things did not get much better during the MTN event at Chandelier. Buys reckons that he was one of the last riders to cross the finish line which meant again no points while others in the series were raking in the points.

But it did not phase Buys, who in the next three MTN series races - Induna (Hazyview), Dirty Harry (Harrismith), Blockhouse (Meyerton) - started to make his presence felt by finishing well inside the top 10 each time. In doing so, he started to slowly but surely pedal his way up through the rankings.

At the MTN Blockhouse, most of Buys's rivals were already starting to complain about the long season and about how tired they were, but not Buys. He was starting to talk about knowing that he has got a few big races left in his legs.

And he was certainly not just making conversation. It was at the MTN Clarens that Buys first started to show his true colours. He astonished everybody by being the only rider able to ride the whole way to the top in what was definitely the most daunting and technical climb of the series. A lack of experience was the only reason he had to settle for the third place.

The week after MTN Clarens, Buys finished second in the Ride Crater Cruise, followed by another second place finish in the Telkom Satellite. He followed that by winning Mondi Packaging Addo and on Sunday placing the proverbial cherry on the top with his victory in the 50 Miler.

Buys was never under any real pressure during the 50 Miler. His biggest rival was "Mother Nature" who made sure that things really heated up during the race with the temperature soaring to about 35 degrees.

This led to the race organizers deciding to rather play it safe and were forced to shorten the ultra-marathon to about 75 kilometers. Buys welcomed their decision because as he said things might have gotten ugly in the last 30 kilometers.

Duathlete and adventure racer Ian Don-Wauchope finished second with Justice Makhale (MTN-Energade) third, Johnny Kritzinger (Garmin-adidas) fourth and Renier Bellingan (WIN/Karsten Cycles) fifth.

Makhale's third place also deserves a mention. For the last few years, he has been one of the MTN-series' true ambassadors who has done a lot to create a awareness for mountain biking in the previous disadvantaged communities.

Garmin adidas was the best team of the series with three riders finishing in the top five overall. Apart from Buys finishing second overall, Theron finished third overall and Marc Bassingthwaighte was fourth.

Kevin Evans (MTN-Energade) is the overall winner of the series.

Women's race

When the going gets tough Eszter Cluer (Jeep) gets going. The Hungarian proved that when she won the women's marathon race (75km).  The racing conditions were certainly not easy. On race day the temperature soared up to 35 degrees, but it did not seem to bother Cluer.

Local mountain bike fans in Gauteng and the other provinces could be forgiven if they wonder who Cluer is.

"I have been an athlete for 20 years, this is my life and I love it! I have won several Hungarian national races in track and field, mountain bike and off road triathlon," is how Cluer describe herself. She recently married well known mountain biking commentator Max Cluer.

"In 2007, I won the Xterra European Championship as well as the European series, and last year I won the South African Xterra Champion."

Samantha Oosthuizen (WIN/Karsten Cycles) finished second and in doing so ensured that she also finished second overall in the MTN women's marathon-series. Oosthuizen could be forgiven if another puncture is the last thing she wants to talk about.

"I was really confident about winning, especially since I have beaten Eszter by minutes earlier this year during the Jeep Hill 2 hill.

"For the first few kilometers, Eszter and I were involved in a dingdong battle with her riding out in front and then myself. But after nine kilometers, it was game over for me. I punctured. I just could not get the tyre to seal. I think I battled for about for five minutes to keep the air in.

"Just as I thought my problem was over I had to stop again to pump air into the tyre. But I am not complaining. Finishing second in the race and second overall in the series is still a good result for me. It proves that slowly but surely I am improving as a mountain biker."

Marthon men

Bryce Munro (DCM) proved that he is one of South Africa's best jugglers when he won the marathon-race (75km). Since October 16, Munro had to juggle his time between studying and training.

"Because I am writing the Cambridge matric-exams, which is quite intense, I have been spending more time behind my textbooks than on my mountain bike. It is not as if I really had a choice. I know what the consequences will be should I fail. I will be in really 'big s...'.

"Needless to say, come race day I was a little bit worried because I was not sure whether or not I had the legs to race at my best. To win MTN's marathon-series overall I had to win."

"I was on the start line with all the usual suspects as well as David Leimann and Jan Withaar and a number of Natal racers, including Travis Walker 'a young up and coming rider'.

"It was quite a hot day with the temperatures soaring between 30 and 35 degrees which I suited me just fine as did the singletrack sections. It surely gave me a huge advantage.

"I was second into the first singletrack section just behind Travis and for the first 15 or so kilometres we raced together. Then I upped the pace a bit and Travis dropped off only David Leimann and Jan Withaar were able to follow. The three of us raced together until the start of the king of the mountains climb.

"Again I accelerated and I managed to slowly and surely open a gap on them then I had to dig deep to make sure I stayed in front until the finish."

Leiman finished second and Withaar third.

Munro won three of the seven races in the series and finishing second once. By winning he has joined an elite group of riders who have managed to win two consecutive years in two different categories in the MTN series. Last year, he was the overall winner of the MTN MiWay half marathon series. Hilton is Munro's happy hunting ground because last year he won the half marathon-race of the 50 Miler-event as well.


Ultra Marathon men
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Philip Buys (Garmin adidas)  
2Ian Don-Wauchope  
3Justice Makhale (MTN Energade)  
4Johnny Kritzinger (DCM)  
5Renier Bellingan (WIN Karsten Cycles)  
Marathon women
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Eszter Cluer (Jeep)  
2Samantha Oostuizen (WIN Karsten Cycles)  
Marathon men
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Bryce Munro (DCM)  
2David Leiman (Morewood)  
3Jan Withaar  
MiWay Half Marathon
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Ryan Ellis  
2Arno du Toit  
3James Reid  
4Candice Neethling (DCM)  


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