South Africa scooped a double win at the Xtreme Dodo Trail (XDT) Ultra SkyMarathon® in Mauritius on Sunday with Thabang Madiba and Landie Greyling crowned the African Skyrunning Continental Champions 2015.
The 50km XDT was won by Ricky Lightfoot (UK) for the second consecutive year, in a time of 5:40:43. Not being an African national, Lightfoot did not qualify for the Skyrunning African Continental Championship, and the award was clinched by Thabang Madiba (SA), who ran a superb race and finished in second place, 26 minutes after Lightfoot, in 6:06:41.
In a clean sweep of the women’s race, Landie Greyling (SA) both defended her 2014 XDT title with a win in 7:04:13 and was crowned Women’s Skyrunning African Continental Champion.
Running what turned out to be a cat and mouse style race for second place, Madiba fought hard against Simon Paillard (France) and Simon Desvaux de Marigny (Mauritius). The race had a nail-biting finish, with Madiba putting in a final sprint at the 48km mark to break away and secure himself an 80 second lead over fellow contender for the Skyrunning African Continental Championship, De Marigny, finishing in 6:06:31. Paillard and De Marigny crossed the line in tie third place (6:08:03).
Second woman finisher was Sophie Blard (Reunion) in 8:24:35, followed by Tatiana Bathfield (Mauritius) in 8:46:33.
Conditions were hot and humid as predicted, with the recent rains in Mauritius making the trails particularly muddy.
Madiba found the route very tough and says he experienced many challenges during the race. “Somewhere before halfway I fell badly, landing on both knees and banging my shoulder on a tree. I thought my race was over. The two Simons opened a two minute gap on me, but I motivated myself and pushed really hard to close in on them. It is a huge privilege to have won the title of Skyrunning African Continental Champion, and I feel more motivated than ever to continue racing to the best level I possibly can,” says Madiba.
This was Greyling’s second international win on an Indian Ocean island in just six weeks, having won the Trail de Colorado 39km on Reunion Island in June. “The Dodo Trail is known for its technical trails with all kinds of obstacles to contend with, including ropes and chains on the steeper sections. My legs were relatively fatigued from recent racing, but the race went well – I am so pleased to have defended my Xtreme Dodo Trail title and with it be crowned Skyrunning African Continental Champion,” says Greyling.
In an unprecedented finish to the 25km Ti Dodo Trail Skyrace®, Laura Orgue (Spain) was the first female runner in the Dodo Trail’s history to win the race outright (2:40:08), followed seven minutes later by the next woman, Maite Maiora (Spain) in 2:47:14. The first man to cross the line was Sintu Bosch (Andorra) in 2:50:39.
Second placed man was Rishi Chundy (Mauritius) in 3:05:27, followed by Willy Emma (France) in 3:13:04.
Third placed woman was Estelle Carret (France) in 3:27:29.
SASA chairman James Hallett commented on the significance of the inaugural championships for the sport in Africa. “It’s really great to see how skyrunning in Africa is developing. We’ve come a long way since the South African Skyrunning Association was founded in 2011. Being able to say that Africa recently hosted a Continental Skyrunning Championship is a huge benchmark, not only for us as an association, but also for the organisers of the Dodo Trail. Their dedication to hosting this prestigious event was unparalleled, executing two flawless championship races. It truly bodes well for the future of the sport here as international interest has now been piqued in the continent as a skyrunning destination,” said Hallett.
“On behalf of SASA, I’d also like to extend congratulations to Landie and Thabang on their sterling performances. Both of these runners have had a great 2015 so far, so no doubt being crowned 2015 Continental Skyrunning Champion will remain a sweet memory for a long time to come.”