Excitement is building as the South African trail running community gears itself for the country’s first South African Skyrunning Association (SASA) sanctioned event, the Matroosberg Trail Challenge (MTC).
Staged in the Matroosberg Nature Reserve near Ceres in the Western Cape, the 36km race classifies as a SkyMarathon®, in which runners will exceed an altitude of 2 000m, enduring inclines exceeding 30%, with climbing difficulties of less than 11 degrees.
Runners from across the country will be on the start line on Saturday 26 October, with big trail names like AJ Calitz, Nic de Beer, Ake Fagereng and Charl Soumer contending for the top positions, with the likes of Derrick Baard, Noel Ernstzen, Luke Powers, Michael Owen and Leo Rust in the chase group.
The women’s line up will be equally competitive, with Robin Kime, Linda Doke, Annemien Ganzevoort and Chantel Nienaber predicted to give each other a good run for their money.
SASA is an associate member of the International Skyrunning Federation (ISF), whose founder Marino Giacometti saw the birth of the sports discipline of skyrunning some 22 years ago. He believed the name spoke for itself – it was about running where earth and sky meet.
The MTC is the first of two SASA-sanctioned events in 2013. The much-awaited Lesotho Ultra Trail, southern Africa’s first Ultra SkyMarathon®, will cover 55km in the Maluti Mountains in the Kingdom of Lesotho on 30 November. The starting line-up will boast one of the best ever fields in trail running in southern Africa, including Canadian ultra-distance trail runner of the year 2012 Adam Campbell.
Both races will form part of a national skyrunning circuit from 2014 – the details of which will be announced soon.
MTC race organiser Ghaleed Nortje is excited to have his race as the one that introduces local trail runners to skyrunning in South Africa.
“I’m really excited about the MTC being sanctioned by SASA, and by the prospect of it forming part of a national skyrunning circuit from 2014. Gone are the days when we trail runners had to drool over skyrunning events in Europe and the USA – our South African athletes can now be a part of the rich experience too, by participating in local skyrunning events,” says Nortje.
With just a few days to go before the race, all eyes are on the weather – just a fortnight ago the Matroosberg was still covered in snow. As with all mountain trail races, runners will be required to carry specific mandatory kit with them during the race to prepare for all weather eventualities.
To watch the action unfold come race day, follow the event on Twitter – www.twitter.com/MatroosbergTC and #MTC2013
All images ©Andrew King | D4 Productions