Philip Buys (USN) came second and Jan Withaar third.
In his three previous outings in the Nissan TrailSeeker series MacDonald came close to victory, but in the end there was no ‘cigar’ for him. He finished second at the Diamond Rush and the Down and Dirty and was third at Van Gaalen.
The organizers could not have wished for a better finish to the series. MacDonald, Buys and Waylon Woolcock (RE:CM) were the only three riders who were in contention to win overall. Unfortunately for Woolcock, a stomach bug that he had contracted during the Berg&Bush event forced him to be a non-starter.
MacDonald realized that, to have a realistic chance of winning overall, he had to shake off Buys on route. With this strategy in mind, he launched one attack after the other when the serious racing started, only to learn the hard way that it was not easy to get rid of an Olympian.
MacDonald managed to open small gaps on each of the serious climbs, but Buys caught up again on the tricky technical descents.
This ding-dong battle continued until about 7 kilometres from the finish. It was at this point that MacDonald realized that Buys was very tired and he launched one last big effort on one of the climbs on the district road. Buys just did not have the legs to keep up with him.
MacDonald almost fell prey to the classical error of ‘counting his chickens before they were hatched’.
“During the last few kilometres I was becoming quite blasé, thinking that I had already won. “Then I suddenly realized that the race was far from over. Philip was catching up with me and I had to accelerate again. Luckily I managed to stay ahead of him up to the finish.”
MacDonald’s winning time was 2 hours 41 minutes and 49 seconds. Buys crossed the line a mere four seconds later and Withaar’s time was 2:44:23. Buys’ second place made him the overall winner of the Nissan TrailSeeker Series. He was the winner at both Nissan Van Gaalen and Nissan Cullinan and finished second at Nissan Tyger Valley.
Buys admitted afterwards that MacDonald made him ride much harder than he had planned to do. “I am actually still on holiday. During the past few weeks I did not do more than two leisurely rides per week. I will only begin to train seriously again after the Whine2Whales tour.”
Withaar was full of praise for the Nissan TrailSeeker Hakahana course. “The organizers warned me beforehand that the race would be quite technical. However, during the first 30 kilometres, I was beginning to have doubts about the technicality of the course. We were then riding mostly on district roads which made for easy riding.
“That made me wonder what the organizers meant by technical, but I got my answer soon afterwards.
“The second half of the race was very challenging. We were either going up or down climbs, or racing into left or right hand corners, but we never raced in a straight line. But it was great fun.”
Yolandé Speedy won the women’s race in 3 hours 8 minutes and 50 seconds. Yolandi du Toit (Bizhub) was second in 3:13:12 and Sharon Whitebread third in 3:36:41.
For more information about the upcoming races please visit www.advendurance.com
View the videos here:
Nissan TrailSeeker Series intro