The Spur Cape Summer Trail Series™ kicked off Wednesday evening as more than 900 trail runners descended on the Tygerberg Nature Reserve. This race is already known as the toughest one of the Series but the soaring temperatures made it an exceptionally difficult day out for most. However, the winners made it look easy as […]
Scorching running expected at Spur Cape Summer Trail Series™ 2015 With entries almost filled up to capacity and the Cape summer showing its best side it’s a definite that the Spur Cape Summer Trail Series™ will get off to a cracking start this Wednesday. The Spur Trail Series™ is one of the most popular trail […]
Ultra Trail Cape Town 2014 — I’ve been running for a few years now but havn’t run an Ultra run since 2012. Come 2014 & for some reason I find myself having run 3 in 2014, namely The Bastille 50KM, The inaugural Marloth Mountain Challenge 60.3KM over the majestic Langberg Mountains around Swellendam and then […]
The picturesque Lievland Wine Estate (Stellenbosch) was a hub of excitement on Saturday, 18 and Sunday, 19 October 2014 when just over 5500 eager sports enthusiasts and lovers of the outdoors toed the line to partake in the action of the much anticipated IMPI Challenge. Multisport athlete Stuart Marais claimed gold in the men’s IMPI […]
The first Marloth Mountain Challenge (MMC) took place in Swellendam this weekend in trying conditions as the Swellendam Mountains threw everything they could at participants. It was a dramatic start to what is sure to become one of the biggest races on the South African trail calendar and runners had to contend with waves of […]
The firmly established international running weekend drew 2430 visitors from 83 countries and a total of 30 351 entries for the three events – trail races over approximately 11 and 23 km on Good Friday, a testing standard half-marathon and a tough 56 km, encompassing magnificent views of the Cape Peninsula coastline on Easter Saturday.
The event follows the traditional Easter and thus varies from late March to April. This year happens to fall in a sequence of top international standard marathons over 42,2 km – Paris, London and Boston. A wonderful 16 days for road running fans spoilt by Kenenisa Bekele’s spectacular marathon debut, Mo Farah debuting over the distance and humbled in the process and Wilson Kipsang proving that his world record set at Berlin was no one off as he bossed a quality London field.
In the midst of this it is impossible for Two Oceans to compete with the Dollar, Euro or Pound. Nonetheless the sponsors offered a million rand bonus for a record in both male and female 56 km races which did entice 30 entrants from Kenya and 14 from Ethiopia, the two best performed nations on the 42,2 km marathon planet.
The weak exchange rate apart, the grueling nature of the race including significant climbs and taxing downhills over Chapman’s Peak and Constantia Nek is sufficient to deter the speedsters who can earn more with less effort on the pancake courses offered for world record breaking opportunities.
Race previews were exceptionally difficult and the media conference held in The Cullinan Southern Sun on the eve of the race provided no clear cut female or male favourites. Despite the numerous entries, confirmation of participation too was unclear, although the late inclusion of the high class South African standard marathoner Hendrik Ramaala was a welcome surprise, albeit that he would be presumed to be a Masters 40 contender rather than a race victor, having celebrated his 42 nd birthday in February.
Without a sub-2.10 pedigree below the 40 age group in the line up the record and Old Mutual cash looked secure.
There is little doubt that these outstanding records can be attributed to the isolation period, because phenomenal athletes like Thompson Magawana and Frith van der Merwe would surely have been blazing the Majors and raking in titles and cash.
The wind, less severe than 2013, abetted the sponsors and compounded the task of the title chasers. Last year’s winner, David Gatebe failed to make the golds and appropriately three runners from mountainous Lesotho filled three of the first four positions. On the day Lebenya Nkoka was a worthy champion by a minute and 41 seconds. However, the performance of Hendrik Ramaala was a huge effort on debut. An excellent 3 hours, 11 minutes and 33 seconds stands credit alone.
His South African flag flying was assisted by Michael Mazibuko in 6 th, hometown runner Mthandazo Qhina in 9 th and Othaniel Phahlane completing the top ten which included a Kenyan, an Ethiopian and a Malawian to keep the prize money in Africa.
Marathon world record holder Wilson Kipsang, fresh from his London triumph six days before, fired the gun to set the record field off on their journey.
This included special occasions for many completing their tenth and admission to the Blue Number Club, twenty for double laurels and the icon Bruce Fordyce gaining his triple. Another former Comrades winner, Shaun Meiklejohn took 2 nd in the 50 age category with a silver medal.
Anthony Nyabanyaba, a top performer in the 1980’s and now representing SANDF Free State, distinguishes still with victory in the 60-69.
Gert Thys, chastened after last year’s bullish approach, ran 3:22’02 which earned 3 rd in the 40-49 won by Hendrik Ramaala, followed by fellow gold medallist Henry Moyo which proves that Two Oceans is still a game for older people.
This was confirmed in the 70 + category by Mr Two Oceans Chet Sainsbury celebrating his 32 nd finish with 3 rd at 72. This was won by possibly the most remarkable performance of the day. Once again, Brian Key of Foresters Running Club won the 70 age group in a sub-5 hour time of 4:53’38, earning a Sainsbury medal at the tender age of SEVENTY FIVE.
A magnificent event catering for everyone above 18 years of age regardless of ability.
Report by Peter Wrensch
A little mud has never scared trail runners and the more than 800 runners who showed up for the second race of the Spur Cape Winter Trail Series™ certainly proved their mettle. Those brave souls who weren’t put of by the conditions were treated to a cold, wet and windy run and got to enjoy […]
The winter Falke Trail Run will be hosted at the historic Muratie wine estate tucked into the exquisite Knorhoek Valley north of Stellenbosch on Saturday, 5 July. More than 300 participants took to the track for the first event of the four-part Falke Trail Run Series at Delvera in May with the spring and summer […]
Frith van der Merwe’s superb record 3:30’36 was never in doubt after quarter of a century – and it may endure many times this number – so interest lay in the contest for first.
This proved no contest at all as another Russian, Nina Podnebesnova, 34, romped in with three and half minutes to spare over the gutsy dimunitive Shitaye Gemechu Debellu, also 34, from Ethiopia.
Nina’s countrywomen, the Nurgalieva twins, 38, excelled again with gold medals and have been marvelous supporters of their sponsors and the event, even as they approach Masters 40 in two years time. Elena made the podium in third and Olesya came 6 th with only one other lady breaking the 4 hour mark for a silver medal.
Unusually young for the 56 km ultra, Chelitu Bogale Asefa, 22, filled that 7 th position and it would be interesting to hear her comments on the experience and whether she now has aspirations of making this her race and targeting winning. She has 17 minutes to find for her first goal and nearly 27 to emulate the incomparable Frith, but this race requires experience as well as natural speed to excel.
Paulina Njeya was a creditable 5 th in 3:50’48, but at 36 cannot be expected to make vast improvement, so a South African winner is unlikely until someone like Rene Kalmer moves up. This is not likely for some time because she has Commonwealth Games and her priority Brazil 2016 Olympics.
The other great lady of South African athletics, Zola Pieterse, after whom township takes were named Zola Budds, ran a cracking 4:07’58 for 3 rd in the 40-49 category even though she only has two years left in it.
There is place for emerging runners to emulate her but it is a poor indictment on our athletic structures and coaching that there are none on the horizon.
Report by Peter Wrensch
The Helderberg Mountain Challenge (HMC), now in its fifth year, is one of the most spectacular but brutal trail runs on the calendar and, with jaw dropping views, unspoilt single track and sublime technical descents, it is not for the faint hearted. The weather played along at this year’s version and, as expected, one record […]