'This sport is a great equaliser', says enduro and rally racer Kirsten Landman
Kirsten Landman’s latest race was the epic Sea to Sky challenge, a unique four-day race held on the Turkish Riviera in Kemer, Turkey, where she finished the race with a silver medal.
JOHANNESBURG - South Africa’s top female enduro rider, Kirsten Landman, has had one hell of a season, winning races, not finishing due to injury and with every fall she digs deeper within herself to fly the flag high.
Landman’s latest race was the epic Sea to Sky challenge, a unique four-day race held on the Turkish Riviera in Kemer, Turkey, where she finished the race with a silver medal.
"I've had a good look at my stats and going into this race I worked really hard. So it was a bitter pill to swallow as I did have a really good race and I was happy with the way I rode and had no problems. But my average speed is not fast enough," said Landman to Eyewitness News.
FILE: South Africa’s top female enduro and rally racer, Kirsten Landman. Picture: Craig Kolesky/ Instagram.
The Extreme Enduro sport athlete had wanted a gold medal and said she would need to up her training to snatch it next time.
"The pace at which the sport is growing and with that, the pace of racing, has got so fast that I now know I need to take my training up another notch and increase my average speed by at least 3-5 kilometres an hour. Which means everything has to be the same in my training."
A bronze, silver or gold medal success depended on the number of checkpoints the rider reached. To win the gold medal, the riders must finish the forest and sky race and reach the golden gate in the mountain race.
FILE: South Africa’s top female enduro and rally racer, Kirsten Landman. Picture: Kirsten Landman/Instagram.
"I've got to train in higher heart rate zones and get used to that intensity. It was a good race in the sense that I've learnt a lot and am now back at the drawing board and have got to change the game plan, which makes it exciting. You can never get too comfortable in this sport, it always brings you back down to earth and it's a great equaliser.”
Earlier this year, she won the Red Bull Tennessee Knock Out and an American championship and is headed to Lesotho to finish her season by competing in the Roof of Africa from 30 November to 2 December 2023.
"It feels like pretty much a home race. It's an exceptionally hard race but in the most beautiful country. I've always been very fond of the country - Lesotho and the BaSotho people. This will be my 10th Roof of Africa. So it's a special one and I can't wait to be back in the Malutu mountains."
The professional off-road, rally and hard enduro rider from Cape Town has had a hard year dealing with injuries. She told Eyewitness News that the only way to come back was to move forward.
"It's a good time to look back at what you've done, reassess and take the time during recovery to utilise it for the recovery while thinking about what you can do better.
"I am constantly working on the mental aspect. It's so hard to get the body and mind to align when it feels like they are working against each other. Over the years, I've learnt how my body works through trial and error and what the signs are. So I try to manage it that way.
"Since my mom passed away, I've started to work closely with a psychologist and recently also started working with a sports psychologist, which has helped me unpack and manage what goes on in my head. Speaking with someone who has an unbiased opinion does help and I feel with the help of both, we are on the right track."
The Capetonian has become the first female to finish races such as Red Bull Romaniacs, Red Bull Sea to Sky, Red Bull Megawatt 111, Red Bull Braveman, and the Roof of Africa and in 2020, Landman was the first African woman to finish the Dakar Rally in Saudi Arabia.
She also completed the Dakar Rally 2023 in the Original by Motul class which is undoubtedly the hardest class at the Dakar – competing completely unassisted she became the third woman in Dakar history to finish this class.
Speaking on which race has been her favourite she said: "The Dakar Rally, of course, by far the hardest race I've ever done. Doing it on my own made it even harder but I went there with one goal in sight and I wasn't going to give up. I raced in memory of my mom. She was the toughest, hardest working and most dedicated person I've ever known. I get my strength from my mom and I did it for her."