Gruelling race proves that age is just a number

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The 58-year-old Francois du Toit left the youngsters in his dust during the 2017 Bloem 24 Hour MTB race which took place outside Bloemfontein over the weekend. Du Toit completed 52 laps of 6,1km to win the men's overall title. PHOTO: MORGAN PIEK

Experience counted when the impressive 58-year-old mountain biker, Francois du Toit of Welkom, won the gruelling Bloem 24Hour MTB (Mountain Bike) race outside of Bloemfontein over the weekend.

The competitors have to complete as many 6,1km laps as possible over a 24-hour period in the searing heat to determine the winner.

Du Toit beat two much younger riders, and when we say much younger, we are talking about 37 and 43 years his junior.

The 19-year-old Handré du Toit clinched the second place overall, while the 15-year-old De Klerk Jacobs took third in the men’s open class.

Dreyer completed matric at Sentraal High School in 2015 and is currently a student and North-West University Potchefstroom Campus. With approximately 2 hours remaining in the race Dreyer was still in the lead but called it a day. Dreyer told the race organiser, George Stroebel Jnr, that he just couldn’t go any further.

The 15-year-old De Klerk Jacobs of Grey College impressed during the Bloem 24 Hour MTB race to claim third overall all in the men's open class. Despite being beaten by Francois du Toit, who is 43 years his senior, he is determined to learn from the "old toppies". PHOTO: MORGAN PIEK
The 15-year-old De Klerk Jacobs of Grey College impressed during the Bloem 24 Hour MTB race to claim third overall all in the men’s open class. Despite being beaten by Francois du Toit, who is 43 years his senior, he is determined to learn from the “old toppies”. PHOTO: MORGAN PIEK

“It was pretty much the same with the Grey College learner, Jacobs,” Stroebel told Voice. “With about two hours to go his body decided that he has had enough and that was the race.”

It’s at this exact point where Du Toit’s experience came into play. He carried on and completed 52 laps to win the race.

Dreyer claimed the silver medal after having completed 49 laps. Jacobs claimed a very respectable bronze with 46 laps completed.

Courant spoke to Jacobs about being beaten by a rider 43 years his senior and he said that he is determined to learn from the “old toppies”.

“I truly believe that nothing is impossible and age is just a number. I have enormous respect for people like oom Francois, and it proves my point – age is just a number. Going forward I will gain more experience and learn from the old toppies.”

The women’s race was won by Marlise Rood after having completed 37 laps. She was followed by Ronel Odendaal who competed the circuit 35 times, while Lulu Ceronio took third with 31 laps to her name.

The open team competition saw teams of five competing against each other and there was no stopping Cycle World Z.

The team completed a combined 237 laps and this was 39 laps better than their nearest competitors, Team Moelich, who in their turn finished in a very respectable 198 laps.
Team Ladybrand took third with 179 laps completed.

A team named “The young and the rest of us” won the mixed team event where the two-men and three-men team completed 151 laps.

In the master’s division of the team competition, Cyclomaniacs reigned supreme. To have qualified for this division a team needs to have a combined age of at least 220 years.
The school’s team event, which comprises six team members from the same school per team, was won by Mudmunchers Sentraal, completing a stunning 166 laps. – RUFUS BOTHA