The 2015 South African Skyrunner® Series next heads to the Western Cape on 26 September for race 6, the Marloth Mountain Challenge (MMC), so far the only Ultra SkyMarathon® in the national series that is on South African soil.
Now in its second year, this challenging 55km mountain race will truly test even the most experienced skyrunners, pushing 3 494m of vertical gain over what will be mostly single track.
The MMC starts in the picturesque town of Swellendam in the Western Cape, heads up into the Marloth Nature Reserve in the southern Langeberg mountain range, and finishes back in the town at the historic Swellendam Drostdy.
The extremely rugged nature of the route epitomises the very essence of ultra skyrunning, testing runners not only on their trail running ability but their endurance, strength and stamina.
The majority of the route is on the six-day Swellendam Hiking Trail, regarded by many as one of South Africa’s toughest hikes. The first section of the race is reputedly the most difficult – not only is it the longest between checkpoints but it also has the most elevation gain – 1 700m over 23km – on seriously technical trail. This leg will also see runners traverse past the highest point in the race at over 1 300m above sea level.
Weather conditions on the day could add an adventurous dimension to the event, with September and October marked as the region’s wettest months on the calendar – celebrated by many as true Western Cape trail running conditions!
One hundred participants will start the race this year, with big trail names like Bernard Rukadza (pictured above), Martin Kleynhans and Andrew Hagan vying for top podium placing. With such pedigree on the start line, the record of 7:17 is likely to be smashed – possibly well under the 7 hour mark if weather conditions are favourable on the day.
Katya Soggot is the favourite in the women’s category, with Caitlin Lewis and Monique du Plessis as strong contenders for second and third place.
Event organiser and MD of Wildrunner, Owen Middleton says the opportunity to be a part of the national Skyrunner® Series was one that could not be passed up.
“The MMC raises the bar in difficult, demanding and technically challenging trail running. Being part of the Skyrunner® Series with the potential of becoming one of the events on the international Skyrunner® World Series in years to come was the major incentive to adding MMC to the list of races accredited by the South African Skyrunning Association (SASA). Being the first Ultra SkyMarathon® on South African soil is also exciting,” said Middleton.
“We’re thrilled to see the big names in trail starting to trickle in, as these athletes set the 2014 record in their sights. Swellendam is going to be abuzz this year, and we can’t wait to welcome everyone in just over a week’s time.”