The first South Africa Skymarathon®, which debuts on October 26 at Matroosberg Private Reserve in the Western Cape, has attracted the cream of the crop.

Matroosberg Trail ChallengeAJ Calitz, one of the country’s top trail runners, takes off as firm favourite, but will certainly not have things all his own way – other strong performers pose a stern challenge.

Calitz, a relative newcomer to trail running, has taken the sport by storm with several victories and new records including Puffer, Three Peaks Challenge and the Red Bull Lion Heart. He also triumphed in a 100km trail run in Verdon, in the Provencal district of France and last month finished third in a super strong field at The Otter, finishing inside the existing record.

Included in the chasing pack are SA Ultra Distance Champion and former Puffer winner Nic de Beer, SA trail team member Charl Souma and top local trail specialists, Noel Erntzen, Derrick Baard and Ake Fagereng. Last year’s winner, Michael Owen attempts a repeat.

The women’s event appears no less competitive with some serious talent looking to conquer the tough 36km course. Leading the field will be the experienced Linda Doke, adventure racer and 2013 Bat Run winner Annemien Ganzevoort, and Robyn Kime, 4x Dusi Canoe Champ and a rising star in trail running. Ingrid Peens, last year’s champion, will also line up at the start.

A Skymarathon® is a mountain race with a minimum of 2 000m in total elevation gain and between 30km – 42km over paths, trail, moraine, rock or snow; total asphalt must be less than 15% of the course.

“Skyrunning is hugely popular overseas, particularly in Europe,” says race director Ghaleed Nortje. “The Matroosberg is a perfect venue, with aSkymarathon summit at 2 249m, spectacular views, tough ascents and technical descents.”

Sponsors on board include VIVOBAREFOOT, Adventure Inc, Wintergreen, Protect, K-Way, Red Bull and Bio-oil; but Nortje seeks a title sponsor.

“There are many costs involved for such an event and we consider this is an outstanding opportunity for sponsors to become linked to Skyrunning; the sport, making its debut in Africa, will be massive here.”

The Witzenberg Municipality, in which the run falls, are also excited about the run and have offered full support for the event.

The Skymarathon® is not to be confused with South Africa’s first Ultra Skymarathon, The Lesotho Ultra Trail to be run in Lesotho on November 30.

Contact Ghaleed on runningthecape@gmail.com or 082 887 3011, www.matroosbergtrailchallenge.co.za, www.skyrunning.co.za

Matroosberg Trail Challenge

MTC 2012: Pic: @runningthecape

1. There is something for everyone
Whether you’re looking at entering and finishing your very first SkyMarathon®, or simply want to enter a trail run in the beautiful surroundings of the Matroosberg Private Nature Reserve, the Matroosberg Trail Challenge (MTC) has something for you.

There are three events:

So pick your category and enter now!

2. It’s a gentle transition into sky running
If you’ve never done a sky run before and you’re not sure you’re up for it, the  Matroosberg SkyMarathon® is perfect for you. While it obviously abides by the SASA rules of exceeding an altitude of 2000m during the 36km, where the incline exceeds 30% at points and where the climbing difficulty is not more than 11 degrees, it is still a manageable distance for most fit trail runners. It’s perfect to try your legs and lungs out at sky running without committing to an ultra distance. This doesn’t mean you can train less though!

3. It’s just 2.5 hours out of Cape Town
Because of the nature and requirements of sky running – think big mountains – you’d think the venue would be far away and a few days leave would be required to get there. This is not the case as The Matroosberg Private Nature Reserve is situated a mere 180km from the Mother City;  about a 2 ½ hour drive.

4. A ticket into Matroosberg Private Nature Reserve
One of the draw cards to trail running is that you get to see South Africa on foot, in a way that  few fellow South Africans do. This event is no different. The Matroosberg Private Nature Reserve is situated on a farm about 35km out of Ceres. The farm and reserve play home to the Matroosberg Peak, which is the highest peak in the Boland, and the highest checkpoint on the sky marathon route at an ear popping 2249m altitude. To get an idea of the terrain you’ll be running on and the scenery around you, check out the images at Matroosberg website.

5. It’s perfect training for the Lesotho Ultra Trail, SA’s only Ultra SkyMarathon®
You may have entered the Lesotho Ultra Trail on 30 November already. If you have, then the MTC 36km SkyMarathon® is the perfect training run for the longer event. It will give your lungs and legs a taste of what’s to come. 

6. You might get to build a snowman
Late October snow fall on the highest peaks in the Province are not unheard of. Should that happen; you might well find yourself running through snow to get to the summit. Either way the views are spectacular up there, making all the effort more than worthwhile.

A little more interested to enter now? Check out the MTC website for more info and to enter.
See you there.
Article courtesy of MTC

Matroosberg Trail Challenge

The Summit: 2249m

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