This year’s Lesotho Ultra Trail (LUT) was bigger, better and even more exciting than the inaugural event last year, and saw some 130 runners experiencing the challenge of “touching the sky”.
Staged in the Maluti Mountains of northern Lesotho, just 45mins from the South African border, the 50km Ultra Skymarathon® proved a high-spirited finale to South Africa’s first Skyrunner® Series, with race favourite Lucky Miya blazing the course in a record 5:31:38 to achieve his second Skyrunning win this year, and be crowned the series champion for 2014.
Miya finished the race strong, a full 33 minutes ahead of second place Gareth Wyn-Hughes (Wales) (6:04:49) and last year’s winner Andrew Hagen (6:13:04). His finishing time not only smashed the course record by 36 minutes, but made him the LUT’s first sub 6-hour finisher.
In what ended up a close contest, the women’s race was won by Trish Bahlmann (6:59:55), just three minutes shy of the women’s record. In close second was last year’s winner Tracy Zunckel (7:07:12), with Su don Wauchope in third (7:20:36).
In a close competition for the women’s 2014 series title, Don Wauchope’s third position proved sufficient to secure her enough points to take the award, ahead of Zunckel and Driekie Black, who was the series leader following the Ingeli Skymarathon® and the Matroosberg Skymarathon®.
Two runners from local villages surprised everyone by finishing convincingly within the top six – the LUT was Tsokolo Moavhi’s and Munyane Musiti’s first ever race, and they achieved fourth and sixth place respectively.
The race attracted runners from around the world, including Australia, Canada, Germany, Spain, Belgium, the UK, Catalonia, Portugal and the USA.
“The top five finishers represented four countries – South Africa, Wales, Lesotho and the USA. That’s what bringing skyrunning to southern Africa is about: pitting international competition against the region’s trail running elite. International runners are always surprised when they see the fantastic mountains we have in South Africa and Lesotho. Our routes are stunning and present a surprisingly tough challenge, which levels the playing field – as Lucky has demonstrated by whipping the international competition so convincingly,” says South African Skyrunning Association (SASA) chairman James Hallett.
After a successful 2014 South African Skyrunner Series, anticipation is at an all-time high for the upcoming announcement of the 2015 championship which will be made later this month.