Hosted by the Ingeli Forest Lodge near Kokstad, the race is one of the toughest trail runs for its distance in KwaZulu Natal. Nicknamed the “Green Mamba” by those who’ve run the route in previous years, the race presents more than a modest challenge. Its almost 2000m of vertical gain has a number of sections that bite hard, so that skyrunners would be wise to scrutinise the route profile in advance to plan their energy expenditure during the race.
Race favourite for this year’s race is sure to be Lucky Miya, who won the inaugural event in 2014 (pictured above). As winner of the 2015 Skyrunner® Series, Miya will be hungry for a chance to represent South African skyrunning in the Buff® Epic Run Skymarathon® in the Vall de Boi in the heart of the Spanish Pyrenees in July.
Who will be chasing Miya is anyone’s guess, as there are a number of extremely talented development runners local to the area who will by vying for podium positions.
The women’s race is likely to be a tight jostle between the diminutive, trailblazing Katya Soggot and accomplished ultra-trail runner Tracey Zunckel. While Soggot is a powerful climber, Zunckel’s strength is in the longer distance, making Saturday’s women’s race the one to watch in the battle for top spot.
Described by race director Dave Dixon as a challenging mix of forest, single track, mountain paths, jeep track and grass paths, the route will take runners through the best scenery in the area, with waterfalls, streams and spectacular views.
The weather this weekend will add more challenge to the mix, with forecasts predicting icy conditions in the region, and temperatures in the early morning around 2˚C. Mandatory kit checks will be strict to ensure safety of runners in the extreme conditions.
“Having this year’s Ingeli SkyMarathon® as the qualifier for the Skyrunning World Champs is a great platform to take the race to an ultra-distance event in 2017, which we’re very excited about,” says Dixon.