South African trail running takes to the Sky official press release – 24nd May, 2012
In 1991, an Italian man by the name of Marino Giacometti (pictured left) introduced the world to a brand new concept of running. Traversing some of Europe’s highest peaks including Monta Rosa in northern Italy and Mont Blanc in France, Giacometti’s dream was to create a series of unique and challenging mountain running events that encapsulated the true meaning of “running in the clouds”. A few years later, and with the first high altitude trial hosted on the slopes of Mount Everest, Skyrunning was born.
Twenty years on, and as the interest in Skyrunning continues to grow at a rapid rate in both Europe and in North America, as well as in Asia and New Zealand, South
Africa begins a new chapter in the development of off-road running as this dynamic sport makes its way to our country’s mountain ranges.
In August 2011, the South African Skyrunning Association (SASA) was founded, becoming a voting member of the International Skyrunning Federation (ISF). As part of its mandate, SASA’s goals and objectives include helping with the ISF’s vision of growing and promoting the sport of Skyrunning on a global basis, introducing local South African runners to the idea of competing on a national Skyrunning circuit, and international runners to the opportunity of competing on South African soil.
So what is Skyrunning you ask? The ISF have introduced a unique criteria that defines a Skyrunning event. From specific cumulative altitude gain across the race route profile, to minimum and maximum elevations above sea level, Skyrunning events encompass a wide variety of mountain terrain. Comprising of events such as the Skymarathon®, Skyrace® and Vertical Kilomoeter®, as well as the newly introduced Skytrail, some 35 000 athletes world-wide enjoy National, European and World Series events. The Skygames®, which takes place every four years in the same year as the Olympics, also offers Skyrunners from around the world the opportunity to represent their country in a multi-disciplined format of mountain races.
As one of the primary objectives of SASA, its mandate includes identifying existing trail and mountain running events in South Africa that will be interested in hosting a national Skyrunning circuit event. Coupled with these existing events, the opportunity also lies in the introduction of new mountain running races as part of this national circuit, events that will continue to pioneer this new chapter in the county’s mountain running scene, all gaining recognition as official Skyrunning races. “There are many quality South African races which already exist and qualify to host a national circuit event,” says James Hallett, founder of SASA. “With a landscape that boasts some exceptional mountainous terrain, I feel that South Africa has the potential to become a world class Skyrunning destination.”
For the local runners, it’s an opportunity to join SASA as a registered Skyrunner®, allowing them to enter and compete in these various national circuit events to accumulate points, much like a Formula 1 driver would throughout a racing season, in the hopes of being crowned national Skyrunning Champion.
“We feel that the idea of competing on a national circuit will appeal to both elite athletes and regular runners alike, allowing them to challenge themselves and others each year. This will not detract from them being a regular trail runner, however with the added opportunity of being selected to represent South Africa at a Skyrunning World Series event, or even a Skygames®, it’s something that we feel will encourage runners to join, opening up many avenues for aspiring athletes wanting to perform on the world mountain running stage.” says Hallett.
South African Skyrunning Assocoiation
As part of SASA’s launch campaign, thanks to the ISF and funding from the organisers of one of Europe’s longest standing European Skyrunning Series races, the Sierre-Zinal Skymarathon®, a top South African athlete will be heading to Switzerland in August to compete in the 2011 event.
Linda Doke is one of South Africa’s most accomplished trail athletes, having performed exceptionally well at some of South Africa’s premier trail running events over the past 8 months including the 2011 Salomon Skyrun and 2012 ADDO Elephant Trail Run (victory in the women’s category for both races). Having also recently competed in her 16th Two Oceans Ultra-marathon, as well as having a solid training base behind her as she prepares for her 10th Comrades Marathon in June, SASA has selected Linda not only for her ability as a runner but also as a fitting ambassador to represent South African Skyrunning.
“I’m incredibly excited to have been selected to represent SASA at the Sierre-Zinal in August,” says Doke. “I’m sure that being a part of the Skyrunning World Series, the race will be very tough, as will all the seasoned alpine speedsters I’ll be competing against, so it’s a real privilege
to be a part of it. With the Skyrunning concept having taken Europe by storm, and through the formation of SASA, South Africa has a fantastic opportunity to showcase its most technically challenging trail and mountain races to the world.”
SASA will be hoping to announce the 2013 national Skyrunning circuit later this year, with negotiations having already begun with interested event organisers. Runners wishing to sign up as registered Skyrunners should keep their eyes on the official SASA website for more details as and when they break, including information about the events hosting the national circuit.
Should you wish to find out more about Skyrunning, please visit the SASA website or folllow our social media channels on Facebook and Twitter
You can also contact SASA by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org