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.
AJ 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 a 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 firstname.lastname@example.org or 082 887 3011, www.matroosbergtrailchallenge.co.za, www.skyrunning.co.za