Ryan Sandes talks about his prep via this link HERE
RACE DATE November 3rd
Official website HERE
Who to watch for the 2012 race
This 2012 Salomon Skyrun is going to be a great race! Defending Champion, Bruce Arnett will be back but he is going to have to beat Iain Don- Wauchope who recently won the Otter (Retto) with a sub 4:30 course record and Salomon sensation Ryan Sandes who placed 2nd at the Western States. Others to watch out for are Dreyer van Huysteen, Paul Mokehetsi and Salomon Athletes Jock Green and Lance Chapman. It is 100km of self-supported, self-navigation running so experience really counts!
Several potential winners in the Ladies race with Sue Chapman, Landie Visser Greyling and Yancey Truluck taking on the experience of local Donna Green.
RACE INFO (taken from race website)
The First Official SKYRUN : The first official Skyrun took place in 1997 with 15 maverick ‘Skyrunners’, however Skyrun had to be cancelled at Snowdon Peak due to extreme weather conditions, gale force winds, snow and sleet. At the time we had a TV film crew in attendance with ‘Old Mutual World of Endurance’, motivated by Two Oceans organiser Chet Sainsburry. John Fobian and Brent Robart assisted with a SAPS Helicopter and medical support back up. The following two Skyruns 1998 with 27 finishing and 1999 with 44 Skyrunners, both ended in Rhodes with consistent winner, Bruce Arnett who started his winning streak in 1998, in his first attempt at trail/wilderness running. Helen Collins then editor of Runners World SA labelled Skyrun as “SA’s Ultimate Ultra”, in the April 1998 Runners World, unfortunately in participating in 1998, Helen baled out at Olympus Peak after suffering from altitude sickness, however her companion and good friend, Talia Raphaely completed the Skyrunning adventure in really ‘heavy’ weather getting caught up in lightning strikes and thunderstorms. Articles in the Comrades Magazine Beyond 42 confirmed these initial claims. In the year 2000, 60 Skyrunners started with 41 completing the distance now ending at Tiffindel Ski. 2001 had 82 entries and 2002, 77 entries. 2003 was almost washed out with extreme floods, where many streams could not be crossed due to flooding. We had SANDF, military support from the men in Umtata under the command of Lt/Col Louis Buys.
Running Wild – Flying High : The Tiffindel finnish is too keep Skyrun essentially what I see as a ‘pure’ Mountain Wilderness Run, on an unmarked trail, in as much it follows the main ridge line of the Witteberge and Southern Drakensberg along the Herschel Border fence line, serving as a very basic route indicator. This was the initial route until the ‘short cut’ pioneered by Bruce Arnett for ‘speed’ and ease, became the accepted route, cutting out the Snowdon Annex and the main ridge line through to Avoca Peak, from Snowdon Peak.
The Witteberg is a South African mountain range just off the south-west corner of Lesotho. The range, which rises to 2408 metres, stretches for about 60km from Lundin’s Nek in the east to Lady Grey in the west. The range lends its name to the Witteberg Series, the uppermost fossiliferous sequence of the Cape System of sedimentary rocks in South Africa. The race starts in the town of Lady Grey which is famous for its annual Nativity Play and its quaint houses and incredible scenery. Discover the wonder of Balloch cave along the route with it bushman art and idyllic setting nestled between some of the highest peaks in the Witteberg.
The Witteberg range is one of the most picturesque places in South Africa with some distinctive peaks like Avoca and Halston Peaks dominating the skyline.
The Salomon SkyRun is true mountain running with a variety of terrain from hiking paths that lead you up to the tower, some jeep track is a welcome relief from the majority of the terrain which is on the mountain side as this is a self-supported and self-navigation the route choice is very much in the hands of the individual competitors. Once you have left the town of Lady Grey behind the beauty and remoteness of these mountains soon engulfs you and it is not uncommon to run for the entire race without seeing much civilization around you except those involved in the race.
The fauna and flora is incredible and there are over 650 plant and 80 animal species know to habitat the mountains of the Witteberg.
The Salomon SkyRun and SkyRun Lite are unique in that they are truly self-supported and self-navigational races, where athletes tackle the remote terrain of the Witteberg Mountain range with a Map a Compass or GPS unit and a back pack containing all there food, water and compulsory equipment that will enable them to survive in this harsh environment, while operating at an average height of between 2200-2500 meters above sea level.
The trail starts in Lady Grey and the first 65km of the route is the same for both races, after the compulsory stop and medical check at Balloch are the Skyrunners allowed to continue while the Lite runners have completed their journey. The route climbs sharply out of Lady Grey to the first check point at the Tower; this is about a 12km run and is a combination of hiking trails and mountain running. As you climb the trail to the tower the majestic landscape unfolds in front of you and it now feels as if you are on top of Africa. Following the fence line you make your way along the ridge line to the second check point which is at Olympus, this is another 10km and the terrain is now devoid of paths and trails and athletes must decide which is the best route to the check point. After Olympus the athletes can pick up a small trail that will lead them to Snowden
which is check point 3 another 11km or so, there is a natural spring just past Snowden where you can fill up your water bladders (does depend on how much rain has fallen so not always guaranteed a lot of water) before making your way to Avoca Peak the highest point (2756m) on the race. The climb up Avoca peak is challenging as the gradient is steep and the terrain is rough especially after good summer rain. From Avoca the route takes you over the “Dragonback” a ridge line that is about 3 meters wide with steep descends on either side, a fantastic formation of rock that is a feature of the race and a spectacular viewing point on a clear day. The route flattens out for a while as you move towards CP6 at Skidor which is again a leg of about 10km. At Skidor you descend into the valley down a technical descend before picking up the river that will lead you to the compulsory stop at Balloch Cave having now covered about 65km of the race.
Once Athletes have done their medical and been give the all clear by the doctor, it upwards and onwards as they take on the challenge of Balloch Wall a climb with a vertical ascent of over 500m in just 3km and back down the other side on the way to CP 8 at Edgehill Farm. Most athletes will now be operating in the dark as night fall will have replaced the harsh African sun. Navigating through the Bridal Pass from EdgeHill to the turn is tricky with a lot of athletes losing a lot of time trying to find the correct entrance into the pass that will lead them onto the ridgeline again. The Bridal pass has now been included as a waypoint on the route to assist athletes in negotiating the pass. A steady climb up the Pass will take you onto the ridgeline and to the check point at the Turn. From here you will double back toward the Wartrail Country Club via Halston Peak which is the last check point on the route. The climb down from Halston’s is technical and is made more difficult by the fact that you are very fatigued at this stage but buoyed by the fact that you are now heading to the finish at Wartrail Country Club.
The Salomon SkyRun is an Epic Mountain run of 100km 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. The event takes place in early Nov each year and is unique in that the event is self-supported and athletes must navigate themselves between the check points on the route. This is one of the few runs that is unmarked and un-supported and this is one of the reasons that it is considered to be such a challenge and a must for most serious trail runners. Entries are limited to 250 athletes for both events.
The 100km run is not recommended if you are a novice/beginner trail runner, and proof of previous trail event finishes may be required. Rather opt for the 65km run presented on the same weekend.
LIVE race tracking HERE