Heyns, Lill crowned 2021 Fedhealth MTB Challenge Champions!

Gert Heyns and Candice Lill claimed gold in the Marathon (+-58km) Distance of the 6th annual Fedhealth MTB Challenge that took place at the beautiful Blaauwklippen Wine Estate on Sunday 12 September 2021 amidst wet and muddy conditions.

Image Credits: Chris Hitchcock

The Fedhealth MTB Challenge Marathon consisted of a +-58km route that boasted a total climb of 1200m.  Riders got to experience smooth open road climbs, lots of single track and technical (but smooth) descents.  Although there was a fair amount of climbing, the rewards were sweet with moderate technical play on the way down.

Gert Heyns (Stellenbosch) celebrated his Fedhealth MTB Challenge debut by claiming gold in the Marathon in an impressive time of 02 hours 23 minutes 03 seconds.  “It’s always nice to race on our local trails,” says Heyns.  “It was quite a tough start on rocky trails above G-spot.  Arno and I managed to get away.  Every time I would get a gap, he’d manage to catch up again.  I managed to get a small gab going up the climb at Ernie Els.  From there I could hold it to the finish.  It was a fun route, not too tough with lots of single track.  It’s great to win.  There aren’t too many races this year, so it’s special to be able to get a win.  I’ll definitely be back next year.”  Arno du Toit came in second, while Keagan Bontekoning finished third.

Candice Lill (Cape Town) was dominant in the women’s race claiming gold in 02 hours 45 minutes 03 seconds.  “Starting with the guys, I knew that it was going to be a fast day out,” says Lill.  “I haven’t done a marathon or 60km race in a while as I’ve been doing cross-country racing, so I was just going to go as hard as I could and see if I could maintain it.  I managed to finish strong.  The route was really fun.  There was a threat of rain in the beginning, but it only started raining at about halfway and it didn’t affect the trails.  It was a nice punchy course.  The climbs weren’t too long, just as you started getting tired, there was nice single track.  It felt awesome to cross the finish line first.  It’s really cool to be able to race again.  This is my first in a while and I really enjoyed it.”  Lucy Larkan came in second, while Mari Rabie finished third.

The Fedhealth MTB Challenge Half Marathon covered a +-28km distance and boasted a total 580m climb.  The terrain featured good gradient climbs and beautiful views.

Vincent Buter (Somerset West) took the lead in the men’s race claiming gold in 01 hour 01 minute 09 seconds.  “Today’s race was really nice,” says Buter.  “It was dry for approximately the first 15km, then the rain came down.  It got really muddy, but it was super quick.  There were a couple of steep climbs.  It’s a short distance, so I just went flat out from the start.  I

broke away on the first climb and nobody stuck with me.   It’s really rewarding to cross the finish line in first place.  All the hard work and training is paying off.  The event was well organised.  I like these trails.  They’re my local trails and it was so much fun.”  Lood Goosen came in second, while Jean-Pierre du Plessis finished third.

Angeliq Coetzer (Grabouw) was on fire in the women’s race claiming gold in 01 hour 22 minutes 53 seconds.  “The route was quite tough, but fun,” says Coetzer.  “It was shorter than the normal routes that I do, but it was a tough short one.  Today I just wanted to ride my own pace.  My legs didn’t feel as strong as they usually do, but I pushed as hard as I could.  It means a lot to finish first because I trained really hard.  I’ll definitely come back next year.  It’s a really nice race and I love the vibe.”  Corli de Bruyn came in second, while Christine Woods finished third.

Says Jeremy Yatt, Fedhealth Principal Officer: “Following the restrictions of the past two years, I don’t think any of us will ever take outdoor sports events, such as our Fedhealth MTB Challenge, for granted again. We truly enjoyed hosting this event at the beautiful Blaauwklippen Estate this weekend, and welcoming riders of all ages and fitness levels back to the tracks. As a medical scheme, we will always be advocates of a healthy, active lifestyle and we hope to sponsor many more events of this nature in future”.

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