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Andrew Hill leads Joshua Nelson in the closing stages of the 40km Half Marathon MTB race at the STIHL Sharks Trail Adventure.

The event’s four mountain bike and two trail runs stirred the Upper Highway area into a hive of off-road activity while an exclusive Sunday staging of the renowned Shongweni Farmers Market, a live performance by fast emerging South Coast band The Kickstands and the presence of the Cell C Sharks players and their mascot Sharkie added to the day’s magical atmosphere.

Hill was understandably pleased with his third consecutive victory in the event’s mountain biking feature race.

“It’s really nice to be able to get a third win in a row here at the Sharks Trail Adventure and while it may not have been the most potent field from an elite riders point of view, to stay injury free and not have any mechanicals three years in a row is quite tough so I’m really pleased,” said Hill.

“I’m midway through the base phase of my pre-season training so it was quite a shock to the body to race again, so achieving a third title here at Shongweni is really nice from that point of view as well,” he added.

The TIB Insurance racer broke away within the first few kilometers with eventual runner-up Joshua Nelson (Russell White Academy) and 2012 second place finisher Leeroy Emslie.

“When Leeroy fell off the back of us Josh and I worked together really nicely, kept a good hard pace throughout and then, with two kilometers to go, I put in a bit of a burst and manage to go off the front and take the win,” said Hill.

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The Cell C Sharks players on hand to congratulate the top three men in the 40km MTB race, from left Leeroy Emslee (3rd), Conrad Hoffman, Joshua Nelson (2nd), Stephan Lewies, Andrew Hill (winner), SP Marais and Lourens Adriaanse at the STIHL Sharks Trail Adventure.

Having been a part of the family-orientated festive season starter since the event’s inception, Hill also praised the organisers for the event’s unique atmosphere and all-round high standards.

“The route was probably a bit tougher than it was last year but it was a significant improvement and funnily enough we actually went quicker this year than we did last!” said Hill.

“The Sharks Trail Adventure is just such a great event. The numbers were up again this year, the atmosphere of the whole day is just unbelievable with the farmers market, a live band and the Cell C Sharks players and Sharkie in attendance too.”

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Tanya Ortlepp won the women's 40km MTB race at the STIHL Sharks Trail Adventure.

Tanya Ortlepp took the win in the 40km women’s clash while youngsters Joshua Morck and Sabine Thies were the first men’s and women’s riders across the line in the 20km Intermediate race respectively.

A special effort had been put into the tweaking and freshening up of the trail events’ courses and those who gathered for the 18km and 9km outings relished the respective journeys.

The well supported 18km Trail run saw an on-fire Jonathan Edwards post a handsome four minute win over Gareth Harrington, with last year's runner up Owen Bengo having to settle for third, while Xoli Madida retained her women’s title. Solicitor Manduwa and Nondumiso Khoza lead the pack home in the 9km men’s and women’s tussles respectively.

The 10km Family Ride and Sharkie Kids Ride saw hundreds of cycling enthusiasts young and old enjoy some time in the saddle one last time before the end of year festive break while the Cell C Sharks players took the opportunity to give back to their fans by assisting with the day’s water tables, mingling with the crowd and participating in an autograph signing session.

More information can be found at www.sharkstrailadventure.co.za.

Summary of results:

MTB

40KM HALF MARATHON

Men

1.Andrew Hill 1:29.18

2.Joshua Nelson 1:29.28

3.Leeroy Emslie 1:32.54

4.David Low 1:33.10

5.Jarred Higgins 1:34.04

6.Ewan Cochran 1:37.52

7.Bradley Rowlett 1:38.47

8.Paul Shackleton 1:38.48

9.Jeremy Thomson 1:38.51

10.Phillip Marais 1:40.04

Women

1.Tanya Ortlepp 1:56.32

2.Bronwyn Brigg 1:56.56

3.Karen Beneke 2:03.01

20KM INTERMEDIATE

Men

1.Joshua Morck 53.24

2.Zolisa Nono 54.25

3.Chris Nel 55.57

Women

1.Sabine Thies 1:02.42

2.Chloe Bateson 1:06.07

3.Sarah Ryan 1:10.43

TRAIL RUN

18KM

Men

1.Jonathan Edwards 1:13:27

2.Gareth Harrington 1:17:58

3.Owen Bengo 1:19:04

Women

1.Xoli Madida 1:29:11

2.Daneil Feldman 1:30:02

3.Patricia Dammann 1:32:43

9KM

Men

1.Solicitor Manduwa 36:51

2.Travers Pellew 39:08

3.Deon Braun 39:18

Women

1.Nondumiso Khoza 43:32

2.Kate Gounaris 44:57

3.Mariska Grace 45:43