Excitement is brewing not only in Mauritius but also in South Africa with just five days to go before the small Indian Ocean island stages the 2015 Skyrunner® African Continental Championships with the Xtreme Dodo Trail and the Ti Dodo Trail.
Sunday’s race will be the fifth edition of the two Dodo races, but the first time they have been included by the International Skyrunning Federation (ISF) on the global skyrunning calendar. The Xtreme Dodo Trail (XDT), with a distance of 50km and vertical gain of 3 500m, qualifies an Ultra Skymarathon®, while the 25km Ti Dodo Trail (TDT) with its 1 500m vertical gain, is a Skyrace®. The exciting part for South African skyrunning is that both of the races are included in the 2015 national South African Skyrunner® Series.
At least three of South Africa’s top trail runners will be racing for podium placing in the XDT: Landie Greyling will be defending her 2014 ladies title, while Thabang Madiba, fresh from the recent World Long Distance Trail Championships in France, and ever-strong Christiaan Greyling are both strong contenders. Last year’s winner and race favourite Ricky Lightfoot (UK) will be looking for a back-to-back victory in the XDT to add to his numerous wins, the most widely known being his outright lead throughout the 2013 World Ultra Trail championships in Wales.
Other international trail runners making up the elite contingent in the XDT include Laura Orgue (Spain), Maite Majora (Spain) and Simon Paillard (France).
Set in the southwest region of Mauritius, the route of the XDT begins on the Le Morne peninsula, a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its historical and cultural significance, and finishes at the Riverland Sports Centre in Tamarin, making full use of the mountains in the area. While the highest altitude reached will only be 828m, the route profile shows that virtually the only section of the race that is neither ascent nor descent is the six or so kilometres of tar section at the start.
The remainder of the route, explains race director Yannick de Speville, varies from rough to extremely technical. Over the seven major climbs that make up the route, runners will experience roots, rocks, mud, slippery grass, river crossings, a couple of very steep roped sections, and some dramatic descents. Views will be panoramic and breathtaking.
Conditions on race day also won’t be easy – while the temperature will being the mild mid-twenties, running in the humidity in Mauritius is hard work.
The TDT Skyrace® starts three hours after the XDT, tracking the same route through the Black River Gorge area and sharing the same finish line in Tamarin after 25km.
Runners from 16 countries will be racing the two events, including Andorra, Australia, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Indonesia, Italy, Madagasca, Malaysia, Mauritius Reunion, South Africa, Switzerland, UK and the USA.
“We are very proud to be the first race in the Indian Ocean to become part of the Skyrunning family. Both the 50km Xtreme Dodo Trail and the 25km Ti Dodo trail are part of the 2015 African Continental Championship because they ideally suite the criteria of skyrunning: technical, very steep climbs, mainly off-road tracks to the peaks, and great scenic views. It is a result of the success of the previous four editions of these races that we have achieved this recognition. The Dodo Trail has been an international event since inception, with great runners like Dawa Sherpa, Erik Clavery, Pascal Blanc and Ricky Lightfoot coming to compete over the years. Now being part of the global skyrunning calendar opens the races even more to the world. We look forward to welcoming more and more international runners to future editions,” says De Speville.