Chris Jongewaard pinched his fourth win at the renowned 100km Kona Odyssey mountain bike marathon in Forrest Victoria today, with Swiss Xterra off-road triathlete, Renata Bucher, conquering the women’s race, amongst the throng of 1,800 riders.
The seventh edition of the Kona Odyssey confirmed its’ status again as the most challenging, brutal and rewarding mountain bike marathon in Australia, courtesy of the thirst-building terrain on singletrack, pinching climbs, smooth flowing and tight treed sections which engrossed riders for the entire duration.
Three distinct riding sectors made up the 100km course which scooted along the world renowned tracks, providing a heroic, tough mountain bike race through a range of wild landscapes in the Forrest and Otway ranges.
Jongewaard claimed his fourth win at the prestigious event in a time of 4 hours 19 minutes and 19 seconds, just ahead of 2010 winner Adrian Jackson in 4 hours 19 minutes and 40 seconds; with Paul van der Ploeg taking 3rd place in 4 hours 22 minutes and 14 seconds.
“I’m absolutely exhausted!” Jongewaard said.
“It was just a tough day out there; with the new course, it’s a bit different to previous years where there was a monster climb to begin with. But by the 2nd climb today, you already had 60-70km in the legs so it really tightens the screws.
“I might have gone a bit too early being 3 minutes ahead at the first checkpoint, but my race plan was to kept it consistent and I was keen to take a bit more risk on the downhills going hard.
“I saw AJ (Jackson) coming towards the end and he looked fresh; I thought I was in trouble, but I just kept it consistent and I managed to hold on. It’s a super sport! What more could you want!” Jongewaard said.
Jackson and van der Ploeg battled it out for second and third for most of the day, before Jackson gave it a crack to pull in Jongewaard.
“Paul and I spent the day together, and for most of it I was just sitting in his dust! I was feeling fresh on the hills, so I gave it to Paul at the end to try and bridge the gap up to Chris,” Jackson said.
“AJ (Jackson) was just drilling it! I was doing it tough up the hills and we were both cramping in the legs, but he just drilled it at the top (King of Mountain) and I had nothing left towards the end,” van der Ploeg said.
In the women’s elite field, Bucher came here to Australia looking for the perfect race, and finished in 5 hours 13 minutes and 35 seconds to take line honours just ahead of back to back 2011 and 2012 Kona Odyssey 100km winner, Peta Mullens who crossed in 5 hours 14 minutes and 34 seconds. A hard finishing Rebecca Locke claimed third in 5 hours 32 minutes and 57 seconds.
“Today was such a good day! My plan was not to come here and smash something. I was nervous because I didn’t know the course as well as some of the others; but I’m lucky Jess (Douglas) took me out here the other day to give me a little bit of an idea of the tracks.” Bucher said.
“Peta and I spent a lot of time together on the tracks until about the 80km mark. We worked so well together, swapping and changing the lead a number of times.
“I had to keep working hard and I felt good; everything was going well so I had to go!” continued Bucher.
Mullens was nothing but praise for the new course and winner Bucher.
“I’m just so happy. Even though I won the last two years, I’m happier with this performance today.” Mullens said.
“Renata was so strong out there; but I wouldn’t get off her wheel. It was only at the start of the 70km mark that I started to suffer, probably due to a lack of endurance, so had to ease back to make it to finish line.
“The new course is just great. That last loop is going to hurt people with all the little pinches that really grab the legs. But congratulations to everyone that finished today,” continued Mullens.
Starting and finishing at the Forrest Football Oval in Forrest Victoria, the monster mountain bike marathon passed through the oval four times including the finish line, creating an exciting event atmosphere for riders and spectators.
In amongst the dirt and grime of the 100km participants, was the 50km marathon race which burst along different sections within the mountain bike mecca of the Forrest and Otway ranges, with Chris Hamilton from Bendigo who finished 2 minutes ahead of any rival in a time of 2 hours 17 minutes and 24 seconds.
“I did it last year and I just love these tracks. My tactic was to go for it from the start. I felt pretty good towards the end so I just went for it again!” exclaimed Hamilton.
Katie Chancellor of Fairfield took the women’s 50km race in a time of 2 hours 51 minutes and 45 seconds.
Highlights of the courses included the King and Queen of the mountain climb at the top of popular Haydens Track at the intersection with Thompsons Track (elevation 558m above sea level); and the timed descent which was held on the renowned ‘Red Carpet Track’ where it crosses Lake Elizabeth Road opposite the Barwon River in Forrest, flowing over 4.5km of track and dropping 250m from top to bottom.
With a record field of 830 in the 100km Kona Odyssey, and a further 850 mountain bike riders who took to the 50km Kona Shorty, these eager, dirty and hurting mountain bike rides prove the events’ status continues to grow in popularity each year.
The day rounded out with 150 Kona Pioneers in the 15km race for beginners and youngsters.
With plenty of sweat, dust, tears and occasionally some blood, it’s fair to say most riders will be kicking back in the Forrest Festival atmosphere talking war stories after a cold shower and refreshing beverage.
100km Kona Odyssey 2013
- Chris Jongewaard 4:19:19
- Adrian Jackson 4:19:40
- Paul van der Ploeg 4:22:14
- Renata Bucher 5:13:35
- Peta Mullens 5:14:34
- Rebecca Locke 5:32:57
50km Kona Odyssey 2013
- Chris Hamilton 2:17:24
- Joey Esterhuyzen 2:19:19
- Jack Lamshed 2:21:21
- Katie Chancellor 2:51:45
- Philippa Birch 2:53:38
- Nicole Jeffries 2:54:18