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Husqvarna Classic

[image] 28 January 2015

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On May 19, Mid-Illovo was abuzz with cyclists and runners as the Husqvarna Classic Mid-Illovo MTB Challenge 2014 got underway. Perfect race conditions, a fast and challenging single track in the heart of the farm land and smooth organization once again cemented it as a firm favourite on the KwaZulu-Natal mountain biking and trail running calendar.

Passing through two game reserves, the race is renowned for its scenery and tracks – and Callan Deacon was the first man to cross the finish line first in a time of 01:41:24 after negotiating a tough 40km course with a mix of tough climbs, fast open sections and challenging single track complete with rockslide, mineshaft and two floating bridges.
He was closely followed home by Tyronne White in second place with a time of 1:41:26. From the outset, Deacon and White quickly left the main group of riders behind and diced all the way to the finish. David Low finished in third place in a time of 1:43:09.

This year’s win marks 21 year-old Deacon’s first victory as a senior. He is currently working for a Pietermaritzburg engineering firm and studying mechanical engineering part time. He has been mountain biking for about five years and completed his first Husqvarna Classic Mid-Illovo MTB Challenge three years ago.
This was the first time that White has taken part in the race. “The first half was fast with flowing tracks and it was easy to pass and get around people. The second half provided riders with an exciting single track. It was a very close race and a lot of fun,” he said.

Jeannie Bomford, who led from the start, took top honours in the women’s 40km MTB race this year, clocking up a time of 1:57:54 with Frankie du Toit coming second in a time of 1:59:38 and Natalie Bergstrom securing third place in 2:02:48.

Bomford also commented on the “spectacular single track” and said that the pristine trails were manageable for the average rider but technical enough to challenge advanced riders.

Tyler O’Connor was the winner of the men’s Gwahumbe 18km MTB in 0:49:30, while Tiffany Keep was the top female contestant in this segment of the event in a time of 50:29.
Mdu Zondi was the first home in the men’s iNsingizi 18km Run / Walk with a time of 01:15:28 and Kyle Dohne the first man in the iNsingizi 9km Run / Walk. The first woman to cover the 18km stretch was Sarah Gray in 01:29:44 while Roxanne Dovey came in first on the 9km stretch with a time of 42:24.
Overall mountain bike race winner Callan Deacon was one of many riders to comment on the quality of the track which many say is the best in KwaZulu-Natal and getting better and better each year. “It’s exceptionally well-marked and I’d recommend other course designers reviewing the markings on this race.  The single track was fast and flowing and well prepared,” he said.

Race organizer, Shanon MacKenzie said that the continued growth of the race was testament to the Mid-Illovo community’s commitment to see it as a must-ride on the mountain biking calendar each year.
The Husqvarna Classic Mid-Illovo MTB Challenge is in its eighth year. All profits go to beneficiaries which include the Mid Illovo Club, Arden Farm School, Mid Illovo Conservancy and Kwanalu.

MacKenzie said that the fact that the Husqvarna Classic Mid-Illovo MTB Challenge forms part of the prestigious Quattro ROAG Series showed the extent to which it was not only bringing top mountain bikers to the green hills of KwaZulu-Natal but also attracting new comers to the sport.

To develop the sport in KwaZulu-Natal, ROAG created this series to encourage riders of all ages to participate in more mountain biking events. The ROAG Series, which has successfully focused on encouraging young and up-and-coming riders, offers a platform for social riders to challenge their friends whilst also encouraging elite riders to take part in local events.

Race winner Callan Deacon said he was training hard and intended participating in all of the ROAG series races. His goal is to be on ROAG’s podium for the series.

ROAG’s business manager, Nicole Talbot, praised the organisers. "Since ROAG became involved with the Husqvarna Classic five years ago, the event has always had incredibly high standards, especially when it comes to organisation and pure enjoyment."

Jacqui Cochran, marketing manager at title sponsor Husqvarna, added that "The Husqvarna Classic Mid Illovo Challenge is a sponsor's dream!  Key ingredients to the success of the race include access to some of KwaZulu Natal's most spectacular single track on both the mountain bike leg and the trail run traversing Gwahumbe and Insingizi Private Game Reserves, slick organisation by the Mid Illovo club, support from the local farming community and a high level of engagement from riders and runners alike.”

She said the event ticked all the right boxes and provided Husqvarna with an excellent platform for showcasing its product portfolio as a number of the company’s outdoor power products were used in the preparation of the pristine routes that race competitors got to enjoy at the event - chainsaws, clearing saws, brush cutters, tillers and ride-on mowers.

For full race results, log onto www.roag.co.za and visit Husqvarna South Africa on facebook more information.


Husqvarna 40km Men’s Mountain Bike Challenge

Callan Deacon in 1:41:24 Tyronne White in 1:41:26 David Low in 1:43:09 

Husqvarna 40km Women’s Mountain Bike Challenge

Jeannie Bomford in 1:57:54Frankie du Toit 1:59:38Natalie Bergstrom in 2:02:48 

Gwahumbe Family 18km Men’s MTB

Tyler O’Connor in 0:49:30 Aaron Michell in 0:51:45 Jett Bradshaw in 0:52:11 

Gwahumbe Family 18km Women’s MTB

Tiffany Keep in 0:50:29 Megan Bircher in 0:53:19 Courtney Smith in 0:54:08 

iNsingizi 18km Men’s Trail Run/Walk

Mdu Zondi in 1:15:28 Gareth Harrington in 01:19:52 David Ogg in 01:20:27 

iNsingizi 18km Women’s Trail Run/Walk

Sarah Gray in 01:29:44 Daniel Feldmann in 1:30:41 Xoli Madida in 1:37:20 

iNsingizi 9km Men’s Trail Run / Walk

Kyle Dohne in 0:37:51 

iNsingizi 9km Women’s Trail Run / Walk

Roxanne Dovey in 0:42:24

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3 comment(s)

Great course but i do feel 9am is a tad late for the 40km start.

Was a nice day out on the bike, a few monster hills, but overall a good ride. The technical stuff towards the end of the 40km was well balanced, not too difficult and enjoyable. The route markings were the best I've seen on a race so far, well done. Also plenty water tables, they always welcome. I'll definitely be back next year. Only thing I did not like was the bull run was longer than the chicken run???? Not cool.

Great event. This was my third year, and it just gets better. Great organization, fantastic water tables. Nice course. But i have to agree, starting the 40km at 9 am is a bit late, should start at 8 am. Thanks to all the water table personnel and marshals.