As a former Springbok prop, Marius Hurter is used to putting his head down and pushing as hard as he possibly can – he has had to do much of that in his ninth Absa Cape Epic this year.
Hurter, nicknamed the “Hurtenator”, was the last-placed rider in the Absa Cape Epic after the time-trial on Stage 5, having ridden on alone after his partner on the JAG team, Greg James, had been forced to pull out of the race after the third stage. As he refuelled in the Absa VIP tent after the time-trial, he described the day as one of the toughest he had experienced.
Hurter has a diesel engine. Like Springbok captain John Smit and Robbie Kempson, his body takes a while to warm up before it hits full steam and rumbles to the finish. Tipping the scales at around 120kg and standing 1.87m tall, he flirts with time limits but has only failed to finish two of his eight races before this year’s event.
He and James were last on the first stage, fifth from last on Stage 2 and 3 and crossed the line on the fourth stage ahead of just two other riders. There has been no thought of stopping or giving up for Hurter, despite finishing sixth from last in the final stage and second last overall on General Classification.
In the six Absa Cape Epics he has finished to date, Hurter has spent 346 hours in the saddle, and has guided the likes of South African sports administrator, Raymond Hack, through the 2012 Comrades. He has also ridden with former Welsh captain Colin Charvis.
In 2017, he and Rola Motor Group teammate were the 503rd and last team over the line at Val de Vie Estate. Hurter’s endurance challenges for 2018 will not end with the Absa Cape Epic. He has also planned to run the Two Oceans and Comrades, and also take part in the IRONMAN. It is another part of the journey Hurter took on when he rode his first Absa Cape Epic in 2009. He was looking for an “extreme” challenge following a successful rugby career, the highlight of which was being a part of the Springbok team that won the 1995 Rugby World Cup.
He had not been a cycling fan before 2009, and even described himself as an “anti-cyclist”, having hated it when it was included as part of his rugby training programme. He wanted to lose weight, though, and after he read a story on the Absa Cape Epic decided to do it. He began his training on an indoor trainer in the gym before getting a bike. He cracked the frame on his first bike and rode his first few Absa Cape Epics on a hardtail.
Hurter is a little slimmer than he was at the peak of his rugby career, but he is still a big man and an iconic sight at the Absa Cape Epic. He may be the last man across the finish line, but he is first in the hearts of many.