15 year old Mountain Bike athlete, Maizy Evans has finished in second place after a grueling 40km in the Mountain Bike Australia XC National Marathon Championships in Redland Bay, QLD.
Athlete blog by Maizy Evans (IAS Cycling Squad)
Every race is the same in more ways than you think.
Every race, you have predictions, goals and hopes.
Every time you line up on the start line it’s the same feeling, your whole body shakes, your stomach fills with nerves and the adrenaline kicks in.
The XC Marathon National Championship was no exception.
5 weeks earlier I was in Victoria racing back to back National and Oceania races for a week, I was amazed by the environment of these races and it was an incredible experience.
When you move into a new category it’s always harder, going in as an underdog you may feel disadvantaged. So, to have placed top 5 in all races and gained 2 podium places was definitely a shock and after that I came to realise that your age really doesn’t matter. After returning from Victoria I was more motivated than ever to train hard and gain a good result at the Marathon Champs. Unfortunately, that motivation dropped quite quickly after becoming sick and off the bike for almost 3 weeks. With only a few weeks left before Marathon Champs there wasn’t much I could do except keep my head high and do what I could to be at my best.
After landing at the airport Friday afternoon, I didn’t find enough time to practice the course before my race on Saturday, leaving me feeling quite worried as track practice is extremely important for a smooth race run.
The morning of the race is always nerve racking. Making sure your bike is in top shape, that your food is organised, and your head is in the right place. Warm up can also be difficult, making sure your there with enough time for a significant warm up and that your warm up is of high intensity to get your body ready for racing.
The majority of my racing is XCO Style which is Cross Country-Olympic, usually riding 3 laps of a 4-5km course that is technical and varies in terrain.
But this race was completely different and it definitely wasn’t my strongest discipline.
Marathon racing varies in distance for each category, being in U17s I raced 40km with a low number of technical features. Although, the track was full of climbing and required a lot of strength. The start was approximately 100m of bitumen road before a sharp right turn on to an extremely steep and loose fire road climb.
I had a pretty strong start finding myself in the leading pack along the bitumen, but once we began on the hill the group separated and the boys had a strong lead. Before the single track, one of the girls managed to slip in with the boys and got away from me. For the start loop, I was comfortably sitting in second and slowly started to open up a gap back to third place. After completing the 16km start loop and coming through the feed/tech zone I felt strong and was holding a good pace. Once I reached the 20km point I started to lose energy and focus, hitting a metaphorical wall. As the race progressed positions didn’t really change, and I still had a comfortable gap back to third. In the last 10km, first place really opened a gap and I had no chance of catching up. The end of the race was a struggle and it became quite tough. Knowing I had a large gap back to third meant I could relax a little bit more and made the race a lot less stressful. As I entered the finishing straight, it was an incredible feeling and I’m super grateful to have such an amazing amount of support from my friends and family.
Although I did not receive the gold medal, this is one of my best achievements so far this year and I am incredibly happy to have stood on the 2nd step of the podium representing the Illawarra Academy of Sport.
After looking back on this race, I have taken many things away from this experience. This race was another reminder of how supportive and friendly the Mountain Biking community is, I have met so many amazing people along my journey and I’m sure I will meet a whole lot more. The environment of events like these are indescribable and I’m very lucky to be a part of such an amazing group of people. It is because of these people that no matter how I place in a race I am able to put a smile on my face and enjoy what I can out of what I have. This is just another example of why I ride bikes, why I get out of bed at 5am each morning and train, and why I travel day in and out to race bikes. I am extremely grateful for everyone who has supported me not only this season but over the past years and for those who have made me who I am today.
I have achieved so much this year and I’m looking forward to whatever the future may bring.
I will now be working hard to be at my best for the upcoming Schools National Championship where I will travel to the Gold Coast, QLD to compete across 3 days in tough conditions.