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Heatonville Leopard Classic (MiWay BIG 5 #2)

[image] 28 January 2015

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The second race in the MiWay Big 5 Mountain bike Series, the Heatonville Leopard was held this last Sunday. The race organisers Zululand Multi Sports and the race day sponsor Midbay Motors breathed a huge sigh of relief as the previous nights torrential downpour eased up in time for the track to dry out and provide the perfect cycling conditions, albeit a bit muddy for the first 5km's.

This was a tough ride and to say you've ridden the Heatonville is an accomplishment of note and to add you completed the 50km route with the Neverest, the rock gardens and the gullies without a face plant gives you full bragging rights at the next braai. This is a ride for mountain bikers and is the most technical ride of the series; if you can ride the Heatonville you can ride anywhere.

Heatonville is a tough ride and is equally tough to organise with very little infrastructure. Overcoming the lack of basic essentials the Zululand Multi Sports Club proved they were up to the task and race organiser Philip Nel, together with Casper Kriel put together a race village that has raised the bar in the MiWay Big 5 series, the Zululand Multi sports Club must be very proud of their achievement. From the layout, the registration, timing, kid's entertainment right up to the prize giving, this was a very smooth operation, congratulations Zululand Multi Sports Club

Accolades have to go to our local Heatonville farmer Jan Kotze who worked tirelessly over the past four months to cut and prepare a track through some extremely tough bush which every rider will attest to with their collection of scratches and some grazes. Jan and his son Ruben are passionate about mountain biking and It shows when it came to the track marking which was really so good riders commented afterward that you either had mud in your eye or were partially blind to get lost.

The first 25km whilst flatter than the second loop for the 50km race, still requires technical skills as it twists and turns through the thorn bush and here the skills of the top 25km rider in the men's section were tested to the limit as mere seconds separated the top 3 riders with Bradley Stevens, a Ballito ride coming in first, Mariu Mtembu also Ballito rider from Russell Whites Academy 2 seconds behind in second position and Wiehann Prinsloo a further 2 seconds back in third position.

In the women's 25km section the top 3 positions were spread out at with 5 minutes separating the leaders, all from Zululand multi sports, with Jeanne Grace coming in first followed by Mariette Elliot and Karen Todd in third place.

This year for the first time the riders tackled the more difficult section with the Neverest Climb in the second half of the race and in the mens 50km race this provided the advantage to Sean Merredew who powered through the technical section of the rock gardens to overtake Guylin van den Burg and win with a 3 minute gap and in third position from Pietermaritzburg was Bradley Stroburg.

The 50km womens race saw Nedene Cahill even after riding in the Nationals the day before, coming in first 30 seconds ahead of local Empangeni rider Desiree Breidenhann, with Anell Duvel following in coming in third.

Thanks to all of the sponsors, especially our race day sponsors Midbay Motors and Liquorland, without their assistance these events would not be possible.







2 comment(s)

King Rat
Well done to the organisers of the event, very smooth operation and switching of the 50km to before the 25km is a good idea, only problem is a late 25km start, on a hot Zululand day this might have been a problem. I have one gripe, have pre-entered the Big 5, have ridden both events, so far, each time i have received a shirt that does not fit, that, after receiving a mail requesting shirt sizes, whats the point?
I would rather have a medal.

mike green
Well run and excellent track markings. We put up tent sat night at the club house - had a great time.ONLY gripe would be the mens toilets at the race.NO toilet paper. We had but many did not. The owners of these "rockets" should have a look at what other races have done. They need to brush up pronto.Will be back next year.