Photo credit: Nir Amos

It was an exciting weekend of racing for hard enduro fans as the world’s top riders went head-to-head at Red Bull Romaniacs. The iconic event attraced riders from more than 50 nations – including South African favourite Wade Young and rising talent Matthew Green.

Fans were left gutted at the news that Young was forced to retire from the event due to injury and all eyes turned to Green to fly the South African flag. After four gruelling days and 571km’s of riding through some of the world’s toughest terrain, Green was the only South African to cross the finish line in the Gold Class.

Not only did he conquer the demanding route on his first attempt, but managed to secure a top 20 finish overall. We catch up with Green, who is fast becoming a force to be reckoned with in the world of hard enduro…

What did it mean to you to be the only South African Gold finisher this year?

It means a lot! There were four of us that started and it’s unfortunate that they all got knocked out. To have been able to keep it together for so many days and get a top 20 finish is something I’m so stoked about. I’m very proud of the result and appreciate the huge amount support I’ve been getting from back home.

When did you realize that you were ready to take on Gold at Romaniacs?

I finished sixth in silver last year and knew that I couldn’t come back just to better that result. I had to do Gold eventually, so that was mindset going into this – just to give it my best shot.

What made the biggest difference over the last year in getting you to that point?

Definitely racing overseas. I entered Erzberg and Hixpania this year and was pushed to a level of racing that I hadn’t experienced before. It made me realise what I was capable of if I just put myself out there.

What were your expectations going into Romanaics this year?

Everyone had told me how rough this race was and the dark places that it takes you to! As much as I’d heard that though, nothing prepared for me how gnarly the race actually was.

Take us through some of the stand out moments of the race.

On day two I set off and went up a really big climb near the start. I landed up passing Philipp Scholz, who’s quite a big legend in the sport. He’s been riding for years and always been up there with the top riders. That was massive for me – to realise that I can actually compete with these guys!

Another one was on a downhill in the rain on day three. It was super crazy out there and I before I knew it I’d teamed up Keith Curtis – a snowmobile World Champion – to make sure we got down smoothly and didn’t fall off a cliff or something!

Photo credit: Nir Amos

I realised how talented the top riders in this sport are – they’re so fast and so good. That really pushed me to my limit. For now, I’d love to be able to run with the pace of these guys in the top ten.

For the rest of the year I’m definitely aiming for another top five at Red Bull Sea to Sky and the podium at the Roof of Africa. I’ll also keep working at getting podium spots in the National series.