Defending champion James Reid has confirmed he will be on the start line of this year’s 60km Illovo Eston Marathon, the feature race of the Illovo Eston MTB Challenge on Sunday 7 August, before jetting off to Rio de Janeiro less than a week later to represent Team South Africa at for the 2016 Olympic Games.
The 23 year-old Team Spur athlete was recently confirmed alongside youngster, Alan Hatherly as the country’s two male cross country mountain bikers to compete at Olympics and Reid hopes a competitive outing at the popular Eston event will be the perfect final hit-out.
“I grew up here in KZN and I finally won the Eston race last year,” explains Reid. “Hopefully I can go there again next weekend and replicate all those good feelings and try get another good result before I head off to Rio.”
“It will be nice to have Alan (Hatherly) at Eston too and it would be great to see guys like Max Knox and Phillip Buys possibly coming through for the event as well.
“Last year’s race was a really stacked field and it would be great to have another hard, fast race again this year. The more fast guys at Eston the better,” he adds.
Known for the speed at the front of the field, Reid believes the Eston event – although a marathon rather than a cross country race – will replicate many of the elements of a cross country event, serving as good preparation for his all-important Brazilian clash.
“Eston is always a super fast race and my winning time last year of two and a quarter hours is only approximately 45 minutes longer than a cross country race.
“It is always interesting with the King of the Mountain hotspot prize right at the beginning of the race and then there is usually a sprint finish – which I’m expecting will happen again this year.”
Having moved to the Western Cape shortly after matriculating from Kearsney College in 2010, Reid is currently back in KwaZulu-Natal for the final phase his Rio preparations.
“At this stage you’re looking for a simple, stable training environment and in the Cape you’re permanently playing dodgems with the weather at this time of the year and having to work your training programme.
“I also love being in KZN and with the snow and the rain this week hasn’t quite played ball, it is improving now and should be a great place to base myself for the last couple of days before I leave for Rio on 13 August.”
Through his Eston win last year and his recent crowning as national cross country champion, the Team Spur racer also brings good confidence with him into next weekend’s KZN Midlands event.
“The first five months of the year were action packed and was a fiercely contested qualification battle.
“I then went off to race in Europe for a bit and when I got back, somehow I managed to get it right for national champs – I was probably a bit on the euphoria of being selected for the Olympics.
“I managed to take a short break after that to try recover a bit and then it has been another big push for a couple of days here in KZN and it would be great to cap that all off with a good performance at Eston before I leave,” says Reid.