Stiff competition made for a tight skyrunning finish in this year’s WolkBerg SkyMarathon® on Saturday, when last minute entrant Edwin Sesipi dominated the race and secured a nailbiting win by just 10 seconds (3:20:31) in his first ever skyrunning race.
Adding an additional dimension of speed to an already stacked field, Gauteng based Sesipi lead the 34km race from the start, cresting the much-revered Iron Crown summit (2 126m), the highest point in Limpopo, at 15.2km well ahead of the chase pack of Herman Mulder, Stewart Chaperon, Beniamino Pellegrini, Leon Roode, Brian Gardner, Bennie Roux, and leading woman Holly Page.
The break-away came at the final water station, when Pellegrini, Chaperon, Gardner and Mulder ramped up the pace to chase the finish in the final 8km of the race. Pellegrini crossed the line in 2nd place (3:20:31), just 10 seconds behind Sesipi.
Chaperon followed a good two and half minutes later in 3rd place (3:23:12), only 30 seconds ahead of Gardner. Another 30 seconds and Mulder crossed the finish, securing in 5th position.
Defending champ Roux had an unexpectedly tough racing day, finishing in 7th place overall, nearly four minutes behind leading lady Holly Page.
Competition amongst the women was a lot less tight, with only three names pushing for podium – defending champ Marcelle Coetzee, Holly Page and Marzelle van der Merwe, the latter two being likely race favourites.
Page (pictured below) dominated from the start, reaching the summit with the men’s chase pack, and then increasing her lead over the final 19km to secure a win by almost 27 minutes (3:25:32), placing her in an impressive 6th position overall.
The race for second place in the ladies race was more contested, with Coetzee reaching the Iron Crown just seconds before van der Merwe. At the final water station (23km), there was a mere 40 seconds between them, but van der Merwe was forced to slow her pace in the final few kilometres after picking up an injury.
Coetzee finished in second place (3:51:57) and van der Merwe third (3:54:09).
Race director Steven Willson says the event is going from strength to strength.
“The Wolkberg SkyMarathon® on Day 1 of the two-day Clemengold Wolkberg Trail Run was another massive success this year. The number of participants increased from 87 to 198, which is an indication of how popular skyrunning is becoming,” says Willson.
“We started this event so that we could show runners from outside our area what a beautiful part of South Africa it is and the course, although tough, sells itself and is a real hit with pros and amateurs alike. We are so lucky to have the South African Skyrunning Association on board and it is so rewarding to have experienced skyrunners battling it out on our course. We can’t wait for 2017!”
For full results of the Wolkberg Skymarathon® click on: https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/266076407/ClemenGoldWolkbergDay1.htm