Misty, wet and cold conditions heralded the launch of the 2017 SA Skyrunner® Series on Saturday at the Drakensberg Northern Trail, the 40km SkyMarathon® renowned for its sections of challenging, rocky terrain and incredible scenery.
While the overall podium was won by Pedro Calderon in 4:18:54, the most impressive performance of the day was by Holly Page (pictured below), who crossed the line less than two minutes after Calderon, securing 1st woman, 2nd place overall, and smashing the women’s record set last year by Nicolette Griffioen by a full 32 minutes.
Competition in the women’s race far overshadowed that of the men’s, with three women securing the top five overall finishing positions.
Second man and in 3rd place overall was Jack MacDiarmid (4:27:40), followed by 2nd placed woman Nicolette Griffioen (4:32:56), and renowned South African Xterra champ Carla van Huyssteen as 3rd woman, in 5th place overall (4:46:50).
Third man across the finish line was Martin Crous (4:47:57).
Set along the border of Kwa-Zulu Natal and the Free State, the route of the DNT has skyrunners traversing a ridgeline for much of the race, with spectacular views across both provinces on either side.
This year the Drakensberg weather strut its stuff, and while it was by no means extreme mountain weather, temperatures were cold and the course was wet and misty.
Race director Andrew Booth of KZN Trailrunning said the conditions were reflected in the men’s slower times, but not in the women’s.
“This course becomes a lot more technical in the wet. Along the route there are some steep, flat rocks in sections which tend to bring some runners onto their hands and knees. It’s much easier and faster in dry conditions, and it certainly showed in the men’s winning times. But the women were faster than ever before, with both Holy and Nicolette’s times breaking the woman’s record. Pedro (pictured below) was 30 mins slower than Johardt van Heerden was in 2016. Johardt’s record still stands at 3:44:03,” said Booth.
The SkyMarathon® had 125 finishers.
Full results can be loaded at www.drakensbergsky.wordpress.com