The first two events in the 2015 South African Skyrunner® Series have ticked the boxes of both challenging and gratifying, putting runners and organisers to the test as only great races can.
Drakensberg Northern Trail Skymarathon®
The inaugural Drakensberg Northern Trail (DNT) took place at the end of March, and saw the Don Wauchope husband and wife duo take honours yet again, with Iain winning the 42km Skymarathon® overall in 4:46, and Su as first woman in 6:16.
Starting and finishing at the Oliviershoek Pass in the northern Drakensberg, the race took place in testing conditions, with thick mist delaying the 6am race start by 10 minutes. As a result of poor marking at a junction in the trail several runners headed off course in the first few kilometres of the route, but fortunately the lead runners completed the full race distance, and the results showed a full quota of podium placings for all categories of the race.
Lucky Miya finished in 2nd place (5:03), followed by Mike Benci in 3rd (5:23). Nicky Booyens and Tracey Zunckel finished in tie 2nd place in the women’s category (6:45).
Reputedly not a route for the faint-hearted, the DNT trail follows the borderline between the Free State and KwaZulu Natal, and has some technical sections. The course tops out at 2 350m above sea level, offering spectacular views of the Free State’s sandstone cliffs and KZN’s sweeping grasslands and forests. The descent off the ridge down into KZN is appropriately named Stoney Pass and is renowned for its technical difficulty.
Race director Andrew Booth had a pragmatic approach to the challenges he faced on race day, saying what the DNT 2015 taught him is that when things go wrong, it’s how we deal with the situation that counts.
“We have to resist the temptation to bail out of the situation, and rather keep trying to do what’s best for the race and give the runners the great experience they signed up for. We all left the DNT2015 richer people for the day, and we all can’t wait to go back for another shot at it!” said Booth.
The second event in the 2015 South African Skyrunner® Series, the 42km Ingeli Skymarathon® took place at the end of April, and boasted an exciting race with a dramatic finish. Nceba Mahlawe snatched the lead from Jock Green in the final kilometres, scooping his first skyrunning win in 4:12.
Continuing her local skyrunning success, Driekie Black claimed the women’s title in 5:17.
Hosted by the Ingeli Forest Resort near Kokstad in KZN, the challenging route is a combination of mountainous rocky trail, jeep track and beautiful single track through indigenous forest.
“The race was a huge success, and certainly tested the tenacity and will of the runners. Every one of them left with great memories of the amazing Ingeli mountain range, one of the most spectacular parts of the province,” said race director Katherine Thorneycroft.
Jock Green secured 2nd place in 4:17, and Simon Armour 3rd in 4:49.
In the women’s category, Anella Conradie finished in 2nd place (5:29) and Misty Weyer in 3rd (5:55).
The next race in the 2015 South African Skyrunner® Series is the Uitsoek Skymarathon® in Nelspruit, Mpumalanga on 13 June. The distance of the race is 36km, with a vertical gain of 2 167m.
Current South African Skyrunner® Series points standings
Iain don Wauchope – 100
Nceba Mahlawe – 100
Lucky Miya – 88
Jock Green – 88
Simon Armour – 78