By Staff Writer: Jess Meniere
King Price’s Banhoek Trailseeker set the standard for the rest of this year’s sporting calendar. As the first Faces’ event of 2023, this mountain bike race was nothing short of fast, fierce, and formidably challenging.
Cleating-in at the foot of the Simonsberg mountain range, on the Plaisir Wine Estate, was an incredibly competitive field of men and women marathon distance MTB riders. Mixed into the early morning’s overcast conditions, and hanging over the start-line elites, was an air of excitement, adrenaline, and suspense.
The Men’s professional marathon distance riders spun out of the race village at 6:30 am, and from the start set a wheel-to-wheel pace. The leading batch averaged 25km/h, and among the front-riders were both local and international legends and top contenders: Alan Hatherly, Matt Beers, Tristan Nortje, Victor Koretzky, Pieter Du Toit, Nino Schurter and Arno Du Toit.
Setting off shortly after, to tackle the pristine network of Banhoek Nature Conservatory’s trails, were the 65km women racers. Although the first-pack riders sat tight for the initial 15km of the race, Candice Lill broke away early; and gaining distance between herself and second place, she sat securely in first position, averaging 20km/h.
To follow the elites over the start-line and onto the course, were open-batch marathon racers, as well as King Price TrailSeeker’s half-marathon, 20km and 10km riders. Not only did the race offer something for everyone – E-bikes included – but the route linked up private trails which are usually off-limits. The early-morning rain and warm weather made for perfect riding conditions and left the trails humming with riders across disciplines.
While Banhoek’s manicured trails make for smooth riding, the main event – the marathon distance – was far from a jeep-track meander. The technical single tracks and sharp bends added a mix to the men’s professional race and saw the leading men’s batch dwindle from 12 to 4 elites. At the ~45km water point, the group was led by Nino Schurter, Victor Koretzky (2nd), Alan Hatherly (3rd), and Matt Beers (4th). The final stretch of the route toppled the leading group with its twisting, technical terrain; a scrambling, sprint-finish with only seconds between the podium titles. The South African Cannondale athlete, Alan Hatherly took the victory (02:32:20), followed by a marginal second from the Swish SCOTT-SRAM rider Nino Schurter (02:32:21), and rounding off the podium with 3rd, was the French Specialised athlete, Victor Koretzky (02:32:22).
Although the men’s splits were a matter of seconds, South African athlete Candice Lill flew over the finish with a ~5-minute lead (03:02:33). Followed by 2nd-place winner, South-African-Mauritian, Kim Le Court (03:08:11) and third-place finish from Malene Degn (Danish Lapierre Mavic Unity rider) (03:11:12).
Prizegiving included the typical podium champagne showers and the festivities of the race village carried on into the later summer afternoon.
Half Marathon Men’s Top 3:
- Lood Goosen: 01:44:16
- Thomas Dunkley : 01:44:22
- Jean-Pierre du Plessis : 01:46:24
Half Marathon Women’s Top 3:
- Angeliq Coetzer : 02:05:46
- Lilian Baber 02:07:50
- Nadia Van Wyk 02:10:57
Fun Race Men’s Top 3
- Dawie Grobbelaar 00:52:37
- Sven Etsebeth 00:53:12
- Liam Rautenbach 00:53:13
Fun Race Women’s Top 3:
- Rebecca Jacobs 01:01:53
- Penni Hirst 01:05:11
- Kendra Kitching 01:05:12
Not only did King Price Trail Seeker riders earn a finisher’s medal, but crossing the finish line sweating, muddied, and dusted; was a true signifier of an epic day out.
Faces look forward to hosting and cheering you on at King Price TrailSeeker’s 2nd event in Buffelsdrift on February 11th 2023.