The Absa Cape Epic is without a doubt one of the most challenging and at the same time most prestigious MTB marathon races in the world. The sweltering heat of Africa has repeatedly pushed material and drivers to their limits.
This year celebrates the Cape Epic already her tenth birthday. Only a handful of cyclists took part in the first event in 2004. Among them were Hanlie Booyens and Sharon Laws, who jointly won the women's category that year. Booyens continued to celebrate many successes and was able to win a total of six Cape Epic-Participated on the podium five times. However, she gave up her active racing career some time ago. But for this year's anniversary, the 40-year-old South African was able to motivate herself again. Together with the young Mariske Strauss, who, as a small child, attended the first staging of the Cape Epic was there, she starts for the Pragma Orange Monkeys team.
"I don't know what makes me come back. This is a question I have asked myself many times. Maybe it's the hype, the personal challenge, or maybe it's the friends I've made through the sport. But this year the focus is mainly on the learning effect for Mariske. Maybe after six years I have gained wisdom and can pass it on", according to Booyens .
Mariske Strauss won every national XC championship in her class from 2002-2011 and has been an integral part of the South African squad since 2008. This year's participation in the Absa Cape Epic will be her first. “It's one of those races that you have to drive once. My father drove it five times, my brother three times, now it's my turn. I've known Hanlie since I started cycling and I've always looked up to her. She is one of my role models and I look forward to riding with her and, most importantly, learning from her.", the 23-year-old comments on her start.
The most important component of a successful race, according to Booyens, is first and foremost mutual respect. A common goal is another essential component. So she doesn't focus on winning. “A top 5 result would be great for us, but the learning effect for Mariske is paramount. The strains in this race are enormous", explains Booyens.
It's difficult to say what to expect from the unlikely pair from South Africa. But with her wealth of experience, Hanlie Booyens is certainly good for one or two surprises.