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Sipho’s Marathon World Championships race report

03 Jul 2014

Representing my country was something I always dreamt of! Last year I heard about the Marathon World Champs that would take place at PMB in 2014 and that’s where I realised that it’s time to achieve my dream of representing my country.


Marathon World Champs was my main goal for 2014 and I knew that when you set a goal you have to work really hard to make it happen, otherwise it will stay as a wish. Working hard it’s not a big deal if you get enough support. Preparing for the big race like this is not an easy thing, it takes a lot of planning, hard work and sacrifices. The preparations went well and thanks to and Specialized for the support leading up to this race. I did a lot of MTN National ultra-marathons since last year trying to get used to the long distance race. My coach (Christoph) and I worked a lot on my weaknesses lately, long climbs and flat and that made a huge difference. He also decided that I need a big block of training in the few weeks before this race and that was not easy because it’s a middle of the season and I had to skip XCO SA Cup because it was just in a week before and that was a good idea because we wanted to make sure that am perfectly rested for the worlds. A week before the race I was a bit nervous because I know that one day race owns you. There’s just too much that can go wrong on the day. I have had races where I’d prepared so well, only to have everything go wrong and other times where I don’t even bother but had the best of days. The support from and Specialized is more than I can ask for, and they made things a bit easier for me to achieve my dream of representing my country!

 PMB here we come

PMB, here I come!

I flew up to PMB with Kathy Crabbe on Thursday 26 of June, arriving in pmb around 14:30 and went to see Christoph. It’s always nice seeing the Champ, where he always wants you to feel more important than he is!:-) On Friday we checked the last 20km of the course together and it was so much fun in the mud and obviously got few tips for the race, like always. Day before the race I could feel the pressure and the pressure is good sometimes, it just makes you stronger mentally. We went to the opening ceremony on Saturday with Kathy and it was really cool to get that huge support from the people and to see how happy they are.

Opening ceremony

Team SA at the opening ceremony.

After the ceremony Kathy and I were planning the feed zones like which feed zone she have to go to and what I will need like water, drink or gels. Yes, that was perfectly planned and Kathy made a huge difference on the course, I really just had to pedal. The night before the race I had to check all my files and I know I’ve done everything I had to do for this race and I had lot of confidence, which is good for the race. The strong words from the World Champion just the night before the race “my boy you know all you have to do is only pedaling, you won already by being here” that gave me more confidence and positivity going to the race.

Prepping for the big raceSA racing colours

 Preparations the night before the race.

Race day

Woke up at 05:30, had breakfast got ready for the day.Ready to race I was so nervous and excited at the same time because this was a really big race for me. The race started at 08:00 and as soon as we hit the first climb, there was nothing to lose. The nervousness was gone and I was feeling really strong like never before, but didn’t want to do anything that would cost me the race and I decided to follow my race strategy & not to worry about how fast the race was. My strategy for the race was to make sure I go hard at the start, get out from the trouble and find the pace that am comfortable with, then from the 70km mark give everything I have. I followed my race strategy but from the 50km mark I realized that the race is not like South African racing where you can find a group of five or more riders riding together. Everyone is all by himself and the pace is like cross country. I was feeling strong, had the very best legs ever and I decided to just give everything I have on that 50km mark because I realized that I will be too late at the 70km mark. I was going crazy on the technical stuff and short climbs , trying to make up time. People were cheering for me like am leading the race and that was really cool. I enjoyed every technical section with my suspension and the fast track both sides was the good choice I’ve ever made when it comes to the tires. Going to the last 20km felt like it’s only the beginning of the race for me, I was feeling very strong and I got quite a few positions on the last technical sections. I finished 63rd and I am happy with the results. Everything went according to the plans on this race and I really thanks to Kathy Crabbe for everything that she have done for me on this race, I just had to worry about pedaling and that was all for me. Thanks to Christoph as well for making sure that am fully prepared for this race, without him I would not be even close to the selections.

 I might not have got the top 50 which was the goal,  but I think I’ve definitely won the hearts and support of the whole South Africa if not the world, the cheers I’ve had on the course and the messages of support from around the world and that’s been incredible. Thanks to you all for the great support. Big thanks to @Specialized, Songo Fipaza himself and  to entire world for the huge support.

For sure there are many more world championships to come! 

Christoph & Sipho

 Christoph & Sipho relax and swop race stories after the event.