PIETERMARITZBURG, 15 MARCH 2016 – It was an epic weekend for the Jeep Team across all disciplines. Leading the pack with back-to-back victories was the unstoppable multiple world champion, Hank McGregor.
McGregor was on fire at the 2016 Varsity College FNB Marine Surfski Series final on Friday evening, and then went on to claim victory at the treacherous 2016 Bridgestone Hella Hella to Josephine’s Bridge 32km Canoe Marathon on Sunday.
The 2016 Varsity College FNB Marine Surfski Series Race 10 finale was going to be a nail biter from the start. McGregor, the defending champion, had to win this final race to secure the series title by one point from leading man Matt Bouman.
Said McGregor, “I decided that I wanted to deliver the hurt from the beginning of the race as I needed to get myself away. I had a great start and got a substantial lead quickly because I really didn’t want to leave it to the final lap because you never know what can happen. When I got ahead I just tried to chase down the doubles and the paddlers in the schools race so I always had a marker to chase.”
The unstoppable McGregor won in an impressive time of 32m41s, ahead of Matt Bouman in 2nd (34m04s) and Kenneth Rice in 3rd (34m43s).
“It was a fantastic win for me and I am glad that I could get another series win! Being able to race against some of the best surfski paddlers in the world is such a privilege. Taking them on in my own back yard is something that I have always appreciated,” said McGregor.
On Sunday, McGregor headed inland to take on the white-water rapids Bridgestone Hella Hella to Josephine’s Bridge Canoe Marathon with paddling partner Lee Furby.
The 32km race was held on a treacherous stretch of the Umkomaas River, notorious for boat-breaking white-water rapids. From the bridge at Hella Hella to St Josephine’s Bridge, the Umkomaas is a roller-coaster ride of high-volume rapids, huge rocks and big wave chains. Summertime rafting on the Umkomaas is typically Grade 3, however when the African thunderstorms unleash themselves on the Drakensburg, this becomes a fast flowing, high volume Grade 4 river, and Sunday’s race didn’t disappoint.
McGregor and Furby won the Doubles race in 1h45m24s, only seconds ahead of Mark Perrow / Piers Cruickshanks in 2nd (1h45m37s), with Marc Germiquet / Warren Valentine finishing 3rd in 1h50m29s.
Said McGregor, “Super fun paddle with my mate Lee Furby on the Umko River running at a full 1.7m to 1.8m level to win the Hella Hella to Josephine’s River Marathon in my fastest time of 1h45min.”
This race was great preparation for McGregor ahead of the 2-day Stihl Umkomaas Canoe Marathon taking place this weekend (19-20 March). This year, McGregor will be looking to claim his seventh Umko title, after winning the 2015 Doubles race with Andy Birkett.
Other Jeep Team results
On Sunday (13 March), Jeep Team OCR athletes, Thomas van Tonder, Jay Jay Deysel, Joshua Masudi and Carina Marx competed in the world-class Black Ops Elite event at Race#2 of the 2016 Jeep Warrior Series, which took place at the Emerald Resort & Casino in Vanderbijlpark, Gauteng. Jeep Team’s celebrity athlete, Hlubi Mboya, competed in the Commando Elite event.
With brand-new epic obstacles, the return of ‘nemesis’ obstacles, and the thick, energy-sucking clay mud pits created by the heavy rains meant these Jeep Warriors were in for a tough, mind-blowing, muscle-ripping 30 obstacles over 15km.
It was an epic event for Van Tonder (Race#1 Black Ops Elite winner), who managed to catch up to race leader Claude Eksteen (Race#1 Black Ops Elite runner-up) in the last 3 to 4km of the race. Van Tonder and Eksteen then faced off in a thrilling sprint just 200m from the finish line. Eksteen won the battle in 1h28m41s beating Van Tonder by 10 seconds with 1h28m51s.
Bradley Claase placed 3rd in 1h33, followed by Louis Smit in 4th (1h36) and Michael Joubert in 5th (1h39). Masudi finished 7th and Deysel finished 8th.
An interesting development occurred in the Women’s event that saw organisers change the rules mid-race after the three leading ladies, Hanneke Danhauser (1), Trish Bahlmann (2) and Jeep Team’s Carina Marx (3), were unable to complete the Zero Gravity obstacle. Usually, Black Ops Elite athletes are disqualified if they cannot complete an obstacle.
However, organisers have now changed the rules that if the top 3 leading athletes cannot complete the obstacle in 3 attempts, the obstacle cannot therefore be completed at all. The athletes, in the order they arrived at the obstacle, will then wait 1 minute intervals between each other and continue with the race. This rule applies to all future Jeep Warrior races.
Following her battle with Zero Gravity and a 1 minute forced gap, Marx fought back hard to get 2nd place in 2h12, just behind 2015 Jeep Warrior Series winner, Hanneke Dannhauser in 1st in 2h11.
Race#1 Women’s winner, Trish Bahlmann, finished 3rd in 2h13, Dominique D’Oliveira 4th in 2h16 and Michelle Meyer 5th in 2h25.
In the Commando Elite Women’s race (22 obstacles, 11km trail run), the super fit, super strong Mboya finished 4th in 1h24. Mboya is improving with every race.
On Saturday, Jeep Team’s multisport junior superstar, Mikaela Jonsson, competed in the 2016 ATU Triathlon Junior African Championships, which took place in Bloemfontein. The event also doubled as the South African U18/19 Triathlon Championships.
Jonsson finished the first swim stage in 15th position, but then went on to record one of the fastest runs on the day, which saw her finish the African championship in 6th overall and the South African championship in 5th overall in a time of 1h21m.
Maude Elaine Le Roux (South Africa) won the women’s event in 1h13m04s, followed by Jayme-sue Vermaas in 2nd (South Africa) in 1h13m42s. Gizelde Strauss (South Africa) finished 3rd in 1h14m.
In the Western Cape, Jeep Team’s rising star, Michael Lord, competed in the Westcoast Warmwater Triathlon (2km Swim, 30km MTB, 10km Trail Run), which took place at the Westcoast National Park on Saturday.
Lord started strong, coming out of the water in 2nd place behind Theo Blignaut. He then overtook Blignaut early on in the MTB stage, building up a one minute lead. Unfortunately, he missed a route marker during the MTB stage, which led to him getting badly lost and losing out of any hope of a podium finish.
Having recently won both the Single and Double Surfski titles at the KwaZulu-Natal Lifesaving Championships, Jeep Team’s Barry Lewin is heading to Port Elizabeth this week to take part in the 2016 National Interprovincial Lifesaving Championships and the 2016 South African Surf Lifesaving Championships.
Lewin will again be captaining the KZN team competing at the Interprovincial Championships. In 2015, he captained the team for the first time, helping KZN bring home the Interprovincial Trophy for the first time in eight years.
After the Interprovincial Champs, Lewin will be aiming to successfully defend his Senior Men’s National Single Surfski title at the 2016 South African Surf Lifesaving Championships.
Jeep Team’s Thinus Redelinghuys has partnered with Rwanda national team rider, Nathan Byukusenge, to take on the gruelling, life-changing 8-day, 7-stage Absa Cape Epic in the Western Cape this week.
On Sunday, after the 26km prologue, the team placed 20th overall, giving them a good foundation to build on. They then went on to finish Monday’s 106km Stage 1 in 6h29m, placing 25th in category and 28th overall. With 6 stages to go, anything could happen. Follow them on the Epic Tracker available on http://www.cape-epic.com.