Saturday sees the staging of the fourth and penultimate event in the 2017 Skyrunner® Series, the 38km Uitsoek Skymarathon near Nelspruit in Mpumalanga.
Seventy-six runners will be braving the route, which is fast building a reputation of being the toughest of the skymarathon category in the Series.
Still boasting an elevation gain of more than 2 000m, this year the course has a few route changes from previous years due to some deforestation, but will still include a good mix of single track through indigenous forest, higher grassy veld, and technical rocky sections. The final 4km have more single track than in previous years, making the course slightly more challenging – and ideal for skyrunning!
The highest point on the course hits 2 024m.
Competition for the win on Saturday is fairly thin – last year’s winner Bruce Arnett is returning to defend his title, and local dark horse Werner Bosman, who finished in second place last year, will once again give Arnett a good run for his money.
In the women’s field is very open, and the race could belong to anyone.
Weather conditions look promisingly overcast, which will suit runners who enjoy slightly cooler temperatures.
Race director Sven Musica says his team is looking forward to the third edition of the Uitsoek Skymarathon, as the route is looking spectacular after the region’s recent rains – mountain flowers and grasses are blooming, ready to welcome skyrunners on some of the best terrain the lowveld mountain skyline offers.
He does, however, warn skyrunners to be prepared for a workout.
“Runners usually underestimate this skymarathon as they tend to think that with all the gradual climbing up to 2 000m above sea level, they won’t get too battered. However, the route has over 2 000m of elevation gain, and this is where the skyrunning element comes in. Runners traverse some beautiful high altitude mountain grassland, and it literally feels like you are running across the sky.
The Uiksoek Skymarathon® will be starting at 7am and can be e-watched on Twitter at #SASkyrunnerSeries.