The route is marked and the start line is ready for the fourth race in the 2016 SA Skyrunner® Series, tomorrow’s Marloth Mountain Challenge (MMC) Ultra Skymarathon®.
Renowned as the toughest trail ultra of its distance in the country, the 55km MMC is also the only ultra in the Skyrunner® Series in South Africa. Traversing the Marloth Nature Reserve in a vast section of the southern Langeberg mountain range above the Boland town of Swellendam in the Western Cape, the challenging route follows what used to be the four-day Swellendam Hiking Trail, and will see runners clocking up almost 3,500m of vertical gain, mostly on single track.
Fifty-four skyrunners will toe the start line at 6am tomorrow. Weather conditions look promisingly clear, and with top names like Bernard Rukadza, AJ Calitz, Andrew Hagan and Lucas Adams in the mix, there’s a good chance that the course record of 7:17 set by Dom Wills in 2014 will be teased.
The first 23km of the route is the most testing, steadily climbing 1 700m up technically difficult trail and taking runners over the highest point of the race at 1 300m above sea level.
Race director and MD of Wildrunner, Owen Middleton emphasises the importance of runners carrying the right kit on race day.
“Because the three Marloth Mountain Challenge routes (24km, 35km and the 55km) are wild, remote, isolated and inaccessible by 4×4, carrying the essential gear to ensure your own safety is vital. Keeping warm, hydrated and fuelled in the case of emergency in the mountains is crucial if you’re injured and waiting for help,” says Middleton.
Serious rules are needed for seriously adventurous trail running, and skyrunning is exactly that. At the MMC, skyrunners and those competing in the 24km and 35km races will all undergo a compulsory kit check at registration this evening. For every item not on the mandatory checklist, runners will be penalised 30 minutes.
“The MMC is a must for lovers of rugged mountain trail, and raises the bar on difficult, demanding and technically challenging trail running in South Africa. The route of the Ultra Skymarathon® epitomises the very essence of skyrunning, and will test not only running ability but endurance, strength and stamina,” says Middleton.
For more information about the race, please visit www.mountainchallenge.co.za