“I decided to give cross-country racing a bash after taking a year or two off and it took me a few races to get used to the intensity and technical aspects.
“I feel I’m getting back into it now after this victory and it feels great to win my first national cross-country race of the year.”
Lill said she came into the race having done a lot more specific XC training than for the previous two rounds.
She felt it made a huge difference because she had the acceleration, high intensity, speed and explosive power in her legs needed for this type of racing.
“I think it was what gave me the edge over my competitors this time round,” she said.
Lill, who completed the 3.6km six-lap course in a time of 1:22:13, said she opened a gap early on that seemed to grow steadily as the race progressed.
“The final laps were mostly about keeping my rhythm and power, staying smooth and avoiding mistakes which could cost me time. I had to keep my concentration and focus all the way to the line.”
She added that when the gap grew with each lap she knew she was having a good day and could win the race if everything went smoothly.
“But we all know how mountain-biking goes; you can never slack off or get complacent until the race is over. So I only focused on giving my best in every part of the race and really only thought about winning when I was on the BMX track that leads to the finish.”
Lill felt the course at Mankele was always “mad fun” and she had loved racing there since she was a child.
“I feel it suits me because of the raw power and speed you need. The technical sections are about getting through safely, but a lot of speed can be found in the ‘in-between’ parts if you pick a good line, carry it through corners and focus on being smooth.”
She said Burry’s rock garden was the first technical section on the track, which was positioned after a tricky climb.
“It really helps if you have a smooth line through the rocks and essentially you can recover in this section.
“In previous years I’ve just smashed my way down the rock garden, but this year I took some time to study the lines and I found I was much smoother and quicker.
“The next section was a jump on a corner. I had to focus on straightening out at the last minute to avoid landing skew.”
Lill said the most difficult section was the log drop, which featured a massive jump. “I didn’t end up doing it in the race, as I’m not fully confident with my jumping and didn’t want to risk it. The B-line was also only about two or three seconds slower.
“The ‘nose plant’ was fun and games. It’s a drop-off with a rock that faces slightly upwards on the landing. It looks intimidating but is totally doable with some speed. Speed is always your friend.”
Her favourite was the triple B-section that was a series of three jumps, with the last one a gap jump. Lill said she found she gained more and more speed through this section with each lap. “I had to be careful not to overshoot the landing.”
She added it was a totally different race this time round because she led from early on and had to concentrate on her own pace and on pushing herself as hard as possible for the 90 minutes.