Saturday’s Lesotho Ultra Trail (LUT) 2015 delivered on its promise forits third consecutive year, taking breathless skyrunners over 50km of Ultra SkyMarathon® to where earth meets sky in the majestic Maluti range of the Mountain Kingdom, for the final race in the 2015 South African Skyrunner® Series.
In an incredible finish to a very solid year of running, defending champ Lucky Miya [pictured below] smashed the race record – his own, set in 2014 – by a full 7 minutes, securing the win in 5:24:42.
Showing his skyrunning experience, Miya tackled the race wisely – starting fairly conservatively, he let the “fast-guns” speed off at the start, and only once the first 10km of easy running were done did he up his pace, steadily moving ahead of the 10 or so runners ahead of him. Knowing his strength is in climbing, he took command of the race from the 12km mark, blowing off all contenders to achieve a 15 minute gap by the 30km checkpoint.
LUT’s notorious second big climb is at 38km, and covers 800m of vertical gain in just 2.8km. Miya took the climb in his stride, and powered to the finish with a lead of 35 minutes, claiming the overall 2015 Skyrunner® Series in the process.
In an impressive effort just one week after his record-breaking win at the Salomon Skyrun 100km, Bruce Arnett [pictured above] finished in 2nd place (5:59:07), well ahead of 3rd place Quinton Honey (6:13:20), who fought off Spanish Gaizka Baranano (6:15:39) and Lesotho local Tsokolo Moahbi (6:16:10) in an exciting sprint finish.
Tracy Zunckel [pictured below in red] dominated the ladies race, securing her win in 6:36:19 and breaking her own record by 20 minutes. Zunckel’s time placed her 7th overall, some 55 minutes ahead of 2nd place Karien Bezuidenhout (7:29:30).
In 3rd position was Julia Hackland (7:39:31), in a nail-biting finish just 90 seconds ahead of Sue Chapman.
More than 40% of the 77 finishers of the gruelling 50km race were first-time skyrunners, and 30% were returning LUT runners, having run either the inaugural race or last year’s event.
“One of the reasons LUT attracts runners from around the world is the sheer beauty and difficulty of the course – the Maluti mountains present a tough route, ideal for skyrunning. As organisers we go to great lengths to ensure LUT is an amazing experience for all who take it on!” says race director Andrew Booth.
LUT 2016 will be run on Saturday 26 November. Visit www.lesothoultratrail.com for more info.