3200 riders participated over four distance options at the event, which was Round 2 of the 2016 Nissan TrailSeeker Gauteng Series, the most popular marathon series in South Africa.

The elite women silhouetted by the winter sun as they jump off from the start line. Photo Credit: ZC Marketing Consulting

The undulating route was always going to see a fast pace, especially early on and the men’s race was a frantic dash for the first half an hour before the first significant climb, which was technical in places and saw the men’s field begin to splinter.

Bell and his Team NAD teammate, Gawie Combrinck along with Philip Buys (SCOTT LCB Factory Racing) were left at the front after the climb, with Buys finding himself having to close down a series of attacks by this two rivals. Eventually Bell succeeded in staying clear and took the victory in a time of 02 hours 27 minutes 19 seconds.

The finish was unusual in that it was located indoors, in a building called The Cowhouse. Buys managed to prevent a Team NAD 1-2 by out-sprinting Combrinck for the runner-up spot in a time of 2:30:00. Heine Engelbrecht and Thinus Redlinghuys were fourth and fifth respectively.

Nico Bell hot on the heels of Philip Buys has the men make their way down the 700m climb. Photo Credit: ZC Marketing Consulting

“The race was quick from the start. We had quite a big bunch in the beginning and on the climb things split up. From then on it was a matter of keeping focused and as fast as possible on what was an interesting route,” said men’s winner, Nico Bell.

“Nissan TrailSeeker races are always fun to do. I have done these races for the last four years and am amazed that they are constantly able to find new routes so close to the cities. Today’s route had a very nice mix of rocky sections and singletrack,” added Bell, who also won the 2015 edition of the TrailSeeker, Hazeldean event.

Buys out-sprinting Combrinck in the Cowhouse finish chute, preventing a 1-2 Team NAD podium. Photo Credit: ZC Marketing Consulting

“It was a fairly flat race. We only had a total of about 700 metres climbing. Gawie and Nico were strong. They’re teammates and they used that to their advantage. That’s racing. I’m just glad I could get second place,” said men’s runner-up Buys.

The women’s race saw Sanders and Theresa Ralph share the pace-setting until the main climb 20km in. The in-form Sanders was able to power over the technical sections and that was enough to take the lead, which she extended to almost six minutes by the finish. Sanders clocked 2:44:56 with Ralph finishing in 2:50:47. Michelle Benson managed to edge out Adrienne Moolman by just two seconds to round out the podium places.

“I came off a second place at the Knynsa Marathon last weekend so I just wanted to capitalise on the work I’ve done over the past week really – smash it here today, go hard and see what happens. And it all went to plan,” smiled Sanders.

Theresa Ralph breathing down the neck of Sam Sanders as they make their way towards the first significant climb. Photo Credit: ZC Marketing Consulting

“The route was cool. Advendurance just know what they’re doing and they created a fast, fun route with a lot of twisty singletrack,” added Sanders.

“I thoroughly enjoyed the race today. Sam and I were together until about halfway up the big climb, but on a technical section she left me behind. I didn’t see her again. The course was great. There were some technical, rocky bits and lots and lots of singletrack,” said runner-up Ralph.

Round 3 of the Nissan TrailSeeker Gauteng Series takes place on 27 August 2016 at Legends MX, Pretoria East. To enter, or for more information, visit www.trailseekerseries.co.za.

2016 Nissan TrailSeeker Series, Gauteng
Round 2, Hazeldean, Pretoria, 9 July 2016

Leading results
Overall men – 70km marathon:
1 Nico Bell (Team NAD) 2:27:19
2 Philip Buys (SCOTT LCD Factory Racing) 2:30:00
3 Gawie Combrinck (Team NAD) 2:30:00
4 Heine Engelbrecht 2:31:15
5 Thinus Redlinghuys 2:32:00
6 Stephan Reyneke 2:33:06
7 Dewald Lotter 2:33:07
8 Willie Smit 2:33:08
9 Phillimon Sebona 2:33:09
10 Guylin van den Berg 2:33:19

Overall women – 70km marathon:
1 Samantha Sanders (Valencia) 2:44:56
2 Theresa Ralph (Galileo Risk) 2:50:47
3 Michelle Benson 2:57:55
4 Adrienne Moolman 2:57:59
5 Maricel Bekker 2:58:43
6 Marisa van der Linde 3:03:45
7 Janine Muller 3:04:32
8 Sarah Hill 3:06:51
9 Heather Slabbert 3:08:17
10 Monica Glover 3:08:50

Overall male – 40km half-marathon
1 Marc Oliver Pritzen 1:27:55
2 Jean-Pierre Lloyd 1:28:05
3 Ruan de Villiers 1:28:34

Overall female – 40km half-marathon
1 Bonny Swanepoel 1:40:03
2 Nicole van der Walt 1:44:25
3 Monique du Toit 1:46:39

For full results and Nissan TrailSeeker Series standings, visit www.saseeding.co.za.