But his decision paid dividends when he crossed the line first.
“Not having done the course and not knowing where we were going or what was coming up it was a bit of a gamble,” Marais said.
“I came in with the goal to win, as with any race we do. I’m pretty happy to win it.
“I’ve been firing pretty well lately and only recently started to do some actual speed work, so it’s quite nice to see everything paying off,” said the 31-year-old, who also won this year’s PE Plett and Wartburg MTB Classic.
The Willehonne rider, who beat Andrew Hill and Willie van Eck into second and third respectively, added that this was the first time he had raced at Glengarry in about 10 years.
“I haven’t managed to get to this for the last few years with other race commitments.
“I wasn’t really sure what to expect. Apparently it was a completely new course, so I don’t think anybody really knew what to expect today.”
The Howick local said there was a leading group of around five riders for the first 20km of the 60km race.
“Probably around 60 to 70 per cent of the race was singletrack, so we all kind of stayed together for quite a while.
“Going up to the King of the Mountain I managed to break away from Andrew and Willie, who were left from the bunch. It was then just a time-trial to the finish to try and hold the gap.”
Marais said racing at altitude was a different ballgame all together.
“You can’t go too far into the red, but fortunately I live relatively high up so it’s not as much of a gap for me to close as the other guys.
“I’m used to riding at around 1 000m to 1 200m whereas I think we had 1 600m at base camp. So it was a bit of an adjustment. But I usually race pretty well at altitude so it didn’t really effect me much.”
Next up for Marais is the The Berg 100, followed by a local cross-country race and then the second round of the SA MTB Cup Series.