Join Cracknell, Kimball and a quality line up at Richtersveld Wildrun, SA.

richtersveld-page_0

It’s game on at the Richtersveld Wildrun™

At the sharp end of this year’s 150km, 4 day Richtersveld Wildrun™ race will be three of Southern Africa’s best trail runners, an American ultra-running legend and a double Olympian gold medallist.

©iancorless.com_TCC2015_Day4-2099

Bernard Rukadza and Katya Soggot will both return to defend their titles and will come up against the likes of South African long distance trail running champion, Thabang Madiba, American ultra-running legend, Nikki Kimball and global adventure extraordinaire, James Cracknell.

Mens Four Medal Ceremony

The friendly Cape-based Zimbabwean and current Richtersveld Wildrun™ record holder, Rukadza, comes off his second straight victory at the ProNutro AfricanX with teammate, AJ Calitz and will be confident that he can defend his Richtersveld Wildrun™ title. He put in a dominant performance at the inaugural event in 2014, winning three of the four stages and thus goes into this year’s event with a distinct advantage over Madiba. “I know the route from running it last year and I definitely want to win again. I always want to push and improve my time and am looking forward to racing Thabang. He’s very good and it will be fantastic,” he said.

Day 2 of the 2014 Richtersveld Wildrun, 'Die Koei' to Hakkiesdoring, Northern Cape, South Africa on 5th June 2014

Defending champion, Bernard Rukadza will return to the Richtersveld Wildrun™ from 2-5 June 2015. Image by Kelvin Trautman

 

Gauteng-based Madiba, on the other hand, will be giving his all and plans to push the limits as he gains more experience in stage racing. He has set his sights firmly on improving his second place at the ProNutro AfricanX, but is philosophical on his approach to the Wildrun™. “Stage racing is one of the races that helps to find your strength in running. You learn to push while in pain and learn techniques to apply to survive all stages. It is only a matter of surviving and reaching the finish line. I’ve never done 150km in four days before and I’m super excited to give it a try. Life becomes interesting when you try new things and get out of your comfort zone. A win will be a big bonus for me but I’m looking forward to give all my best,” he said.

SA long distance trail champion, Thabang Madiba at the Outeniqua Traverse. He will be taking on Bernard Rukadza at the Richtersveld Wildrun™. Image by Kelvin Trautman

SA long distance trail champion, Thabang Madiba at the Outeniqua Traverse. He will be taking on Bernard Rukadza at the Richtersveld Wildrun™. Image by Kelvin Trautman

“What more can be said other than this is going to be one hell of a race! Bernard has been on fire in the Cape recently, winning everything from marathons to short Spur Trail Series™ events, but Madiba comes with the South African long distance trail champion label and arguably more endurance experience. I can’t wait to see these two trail heavy weights going head to head, solo, and in the magical Richtersveld desert,” said Owen Middleton, MD of Wildrunner – the events company behind the Wildrun™.

Also in the hunt, and sure to be nipping at the heels of Rukadza and Madiba, is second time Richtersveld Wildrun™ challenger, Filippo Faralla as well as British adventurer, James Cracknell.

Soggot vs Kimball

Katya Soggot will be defending her title at the Richtersveld Wildrun™ and facing competition such as Nikki Kimball and Karoline Hanks. Image by Dylan Haskin

Katya Soggot will be defending her title at the Richtersveld Wildrun™ and facing competition such as Nikki Kimball and Karoline Hanks. Image by Dylan Haskin

In the ladies field, Katya Soggot will be representing South Africa off the back of victories at the Spur Silvermine Mountain XL, Spur Cape Summer Trail Series™, Three Peaks Challenge, Matroosberg Challenge and fourth place at the Otter African Trail Race, to name but a few. Soggot’s continuous achievements will come in handy as she is up against three-time Western States 100 champion, previous Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc champ and current Marathon des Sables champion, Nikki Kimball.

Other top lady runners who are worth keeping an eye on, include the female winner of the 2014 Rhodes Ultra Trail Run and uber-experienced ultra-trail runner Karoline Hanks; third placed female at the Wildcoast Wildrun™ 2014 Harriet Cullinan; and second placed female at the 100km Cederberg Traverse, Georgina Ayre.

“Last year, the ladies race was very amicable, with Katya and Tracy Zunckel running together for a large portion of the time. This year will be so exciting to watch, with at least five really strong contenders for the title. Katya will be looking to defend her title, with the advantage of knowing the route and Nikki is certainly a tough challenger,” says Tamaryn Middleton, general manager of Wildrunner. “Karoline Hanks is also extremely strong and comfortable with self-navigation so is definitely one to watch.”

Soggot has said she has amazing memories from the Richtersveld Wildrun™ in 2014 and is ecstatic to go back again. “The magnitude of untouched wilderness, the comfort and welcome at every rest camp, and the elves who made it so. My feet touched where angels fear to tread. I never dreamt I would have the privilege to relive such an experience and I am overwhelmed with gratitude to Boundless Southern Africa and Wildrunner for the opportunity,” she said.

Since its inception in 2014, the Richtersveld Wildrun™ has had amazing support from Boundless Southern Africa and marketing manager, Roland Vorwerk was equally excited about the quality of racing anticipated. “The Richtersveld Wildrun™ route includes many of the Park’s most spectacular features, and includes trails that very few people get to traverse. We are looking forward to these runners experiencing the unique natural and cultural landscape of the /Ai/Ais-Richtersveld Transfrontier Park and meeting the communities associated with this innovative event.”

Do you fancy joining these incredible athletes in South Africa?

Limited places are available through the UK agent. Please use the contact.

 

The countdown has begun to Africa’s first Ultra SkyMarathon®, the Lesotho Ultra Trail.

LUT_Gallery_1

With less than 36 hours to go before the 55km ultra trail race through the Tsehlanyane National Park in the heart of Lesotho’s Maloti Mountains, anticipation is building amongst the trail running community for this, the second South Africa Skyrunning Association (SASA)-sanctioned event on the South African trail running calendar

After the success of the Matroosberg SkyMarathon® in October, skyrunning fever is running high, setting the ground for the imminent announcement of a national skyrunning series in 2014.

Presented by Maliba Lodge, KZN Trail Running and The North Face, the Lesotho Ultra Trail will see a selection of South Africa’s best trail runners facing the challenge of an ultra-distance, high altitude course boasting more than three kilometres of vertical ascent, peaking at 3155m above sea level.

LUT 1

Big names include South African trail star and winner of the Verdon Canyon Challenge in France AJ Calitz (K-Way/Vivobarefoot), mountain running legend and winner of the 2012 Otter African Trail Run Iain Don Wauchope (The North Face), 2013 SA Ultra Trail winner Nic de Beer, Stellenbosch-based mountain runner Andrew Hagen (Vibram) and Gauteng trail speedster Lucky Mia.

In the women’s field, Canadian ultra trail star Stacie Carrigan will be dicing one of the most competitive women’s contingent of any southern African ultra trail race to date, including Matroosberg SkyMarathon® winner Robyn Kime (The North face), 2013 SA Ultra trail champ Tracy Zunckel (Race Food), 2011 Otter African Trail Run winner Su Don Wauchope (The North Face) and SA ultra running legend Linda Doke (Salomon).

With Lesotho offering world class skyrunning terrain and warm hospitality, the Lesotho Ultra Trail is set to become one of the continent’s premier off-road ultras.

For more information about the race, visit www.lesothoultratrail.com of follow the race live via Twitter [www.twitter.com/lesothoultra]

Article ©lesothoultra

Feature on AJ Calitz

AJ Calitz in Europe, early 2013. Zegama-Aizkorri

AJ Calitz in Europe, early 2013. Zegama-Aizkorri

In just the last two months K-Way athlete AJ Calitz has been on the podium, won or set course records at many competitive trail races. As the year winds down, so does his racing schedule. This weekend’s 55-kilometre Lesotho Ultra Trail race will be his last for the year.

Two weeks ago Calitz took part in the annual Salomon SkyRun – only a week after winning Red Bull LionHeart.

“I didn’t expect to still feel LionHeart in my legs, but I did – unfortunately,” he says.

“SkyRun was a tough one,” Calitz says, recalling the challenging terrain and adverse weather conditions that led to the course being shortened and runners diverted off the mountain and down to safety.

After getting horribly lost between checkpoints one and two, Calitz managed to catch up to the chasing group. He stayed with them – safety in numbers.

“The weather was horrific with torrential ice-rain and winds of 100kph. It was very dangerous on the Dragon’s Back, but luckily I had all my emergency kit to keep me going.

“I really had a terrible day from the start and with the cold and navigation problems I didn’t eat as well as I should have. I felt the effects of this towards Balloch,” he explains.

Reaching Balloch he was already very cold. “I just couldn’t warm up again,” he remembers. He decided not to carry on.

But then, his K-Way teammate Annemien Ganzevoort – the leading woman runner – came in and told Calitz that she was carrying on. He decided to join her.

“If something happened to her in those conditions and I could have gone along – but didn’t – I would never have forgiven myself… and I really didn’t want to have a DNF on my first SkyRun either. So, we suited up in our K-Way mountain-trekking and cold-weather gear and carried on. We were halted by race organisation just short of Edgehill Farm though.”

“It’s amazing how weather like that can draw athletes closer together… where you switch from competing to surviving in only a few moments. I love this kind of racing. It’s not all about the winning or prize money or whatever the reason why you run, but it becomes an expedition and a truly valuable life experience,” says Ganzevoort.

While Ganzevoort takes a well-deserved rest, Calitz has one more race before he can put his feet up.

Lesotho Ultra Trail is a marked route that is 55-kilometres in distance and, staged in the Mountain Kingdom of Lesotho, the 3200-metres of accumulative ascent comes as no surprise. The course description promises stream crossings, loose rocks, steep descents and “two notable climbs”. The section between nine and 22 kilometres is run at over 3000-metres in altitude.

The men’s (and women’s) field is very competitive and Calitz is expecting to work hard to gain ground on Nic de Beer, Iain Don-Wauchope and Lucky Mia.

“I’m just going to take it as it comes,” he adds.

Although your money can be safely bet on Su Don-Wauchope or Robyn Kime for a win in the women’s race, the odds are fairly good that Linda Doke, Tracey Zunkel, Chantal Nienaber, Megan Mackenzie or Stacie Carrigan (Canada) could be up front too.

2013 Salomon Skyrun powered by Red Bull

ARE YOU READY TO RUN IN THE SKY?

Trail runners and adventure junkies from all over the world are putting their final preparations together for the 2013 Salomon Skyrun powered by Red Bull, that will be taking place in Lady Grey on the 16th of November 2013. Now in its 16th year, the race has become known as one of the must-do ultra-wilderness-mountain-runs in the world. “The Salomon SkyRun is an Epic 100km Mountain run considered by many athletes to be the toughest Trail Run in South Africa. The event is made up of two options; the SkyRun Lite, a 65km one day run, or the big daddy of trail, the 100km SkyRun,” explains Race Director and Organiser, Michael de Haast from Pure Adventures. “What makes this event so unique is that it is fully self-supported and athletes must navigate themselves between the check points on the route.”

Some top names taking part this year include two of the greatest adventurers of our time, the legendary Steve Black and Sean Wisedale. Other top names include AJ Calitz, Salomon athlete Ryno Griesel and Dreyer van Huyssteen amongst the men, and Megan Mackenzie, Annemien Ganzevoort and Donna Green amongst the ladies. The race starts in Lady Grey at 4am on Saturday the 16th and will take the athletes anywhere between 14 – 30 hours.

Michael has some great advice for the athletes, especially those doing it for the first time, for those who might have forgotten and for those who would like to take part next year:

1. You will more than likely have stomach issues. You may vomit. Somewhere between Balloch and the Turn, you may see God (or a lion) and that, in and of itself, will make you want to puke. Don’t worry; you’re not going to die. Just puke, deal with it and move on. Don’t let “I couldn’t keep anything down” be your excuse for a DNF.

2. Sometime during the day you might feel like you have a tiny little pebble in your shoe. For the next hour or so you’ll have this little debate with yourself as to whether you should stop to take the pebble out or just wiggle your foot around a bit to move the pebble to a more comfortable position. Don’t have that debate! That little pebble is possibly the beginning of a blister. If you deal with it the minute you feel it you’ll probably be fine. If you ignore it or wiggle around with it you may end up finishing but you’ll do so with a dagger in your shoe.

3. Finally, you will undoubtedly have a moment between Skiwdor and Edgehill when you feel like you need a Quad Transplant. Everyone feels this way. The downhill pounding you put your legs through at Salomon Skyrun grinds the muscles in your quads into sausage. Don’t let it bother you. Assuming the pain you’re experiencing is less severe than someone sticking a red hot poker into your quad, just slow down, stay hydrated, and shuffle on.

One of the main reasons why the race was first started in the mid 1990’s was to raise awareness and fundraising for the local charities and home based care givers who look after the local children whose lives have been seriously rocked by misfortune. The charities rely heavily on the race for support, and the organisers encourage athletes and supporters to bring along any donations including stationary, writing paper, clothes and money. These donations make a huge difference to these children’s lives and the charity chosen for this year is the House of Light.

For more information please visit www.skyrun.co.za, and find them on facebook and twitter.