Lill had to stop to repair a puncture during the five-lap race, which took place at the Happy Valley Conservancy.
“I got a rear wheel puncture on one of the descents on the third lap. At that stage, Mariske and I were playing a bit of cat and mouse and she was only about five seconds ahead of me.
“I was carrying a plug and bomb to fix the puncture, so I fixed the puncture out on the course. I thought that would be faster than getting a wheel change at the tech zone.
“Luckily I’ve had practice with fixing punctures so I did it as quickly as possible. But Cherie [Redecker] caught up with and passed me as I was getting going again.”
At that point Lill knew catching Strauss was unlikely, but she continued to “put in my best effort to the line regardless”.
“It can be difficult to stay motivated in a situation like that, but racing is unpredictable. You never know what might happen to someone else so you always have to give your best effort,” she said, as she managed to beat Redecker into third by over two minutes.
Lill was full of praise for her competition on the day. “Mariske, Cherie, Amy [McDougall] and Sarah [Hill] are all fierce competitors and I have huge respect for them.
“They are tough women and I believed the race was wide open; anyone could have taken the title if everything went their way.”
Lill said she enjoyed the course, as well as the race as a whole.
“I felt like I could truly have fun out there, regardless of how much I was suffering,” she said.
“I enjoyed the rocky descents and the big climbs in the second half of the course. I loved it.
“Of course no rider likes to come second, but there were many positives to take from the race.
“I’m really happy with the progress I’ve made in cross-country racing, since I only started at the beginning of last season.”
Lill, however, managed to secure the SA cross-country series title with a total of 200 points, 20 more than Strauss in second.
The series comprised four cross-country events throughout the year at Coetzenburg, Thaba Trails, Cascades and Mankele respectively.