I'm not a natural blogger and I'm no techie. I'm an ultra trail runner by passion, and a journalist by profession - in that order of priority.
In this blog I use the one to talk about the other - my trail thoughts, musings and meanderings about running mountains and trails.
I call it rockhoppin', just because... well... that's what we trail runners love to do!

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Ultra Trail Cape Town 2015


Much has been said and loads already posted about Ultra Trail Cape Town 2015, but I couldn’t resist leaping onto the feedback bandwagon with a quick blog.

This is not a race report – it can’t be, I ran neither the 100km nor the 65km. A dodgy Achilles peppered with a healthy dose of sense made me opt instead for the 65km relay, partnering friend and speedster Nic de Beer.

So, having only run 34km of the full UTCT route, I write this more from the position of a participating observer. And even from that stance, I saw a lot.

UTCT 100km winner Christiaan Greyling
There’s not a single person who won’t agree that everything about UTCT, from the very time the seed of such a race germinated in Nic Bornman’s head and heart, right to everyone’s viewing of the 9 min video (click here) that brilliantly captures the essence of race day, just radiates success.

So, I won’t be covering how immaculately organised the preparation for UTCT was, how fantastic the vibe was on the day, how the route epitomised everything that an ultra on one of the New Seven Wonders of Nature (read about Table Mountain here) should, or how incredible the aid stations were with their energy and support through miserable weather conditions.

Notwithstanding the incredible determination and perseverance of the runners who took on either distance, there were four specific aspects that stood out for me last Saturday.

The first was that to stage two mountain ultras simultaneously without a glitch, despite adverse weather conditions, is beyond commendable. The forward planning, the logistics and safety precautions needed to accomplish this are monstrous. The trio of energy behind achieving this can be proud – Nic, Stuart and Kim, a massive shout-out, you make a superb sports team!
UTCT's energy trio - Nic Bornman, Kim Stephens and Stuart McConnachie
The second has to be said, and just as loudly: the women’s performance last Saturday was even more impressive than the men’s. In a field of about 45 starters, 10% were female, of which three finished in the top 11 overall.

Ladies winner Kerry-Ann Marshall ran a race that, I believe, outshone even the overall winner. (Christiaan, you ran a superb race, no doubt there, but Kerry-Ann was on fire!) 
Ladies' winner Kerry-Ann Marshall came 6th overall
Second-placed lady Chantel “Hotpants” Nienaber also had a phenomenal race, knocking more than an hour of her 2014 time. In the 65km race, ladies’ winner Landie Greyling crossed the line 8th overall, comfortably within the top 10 finishers.

My third observation is that nothing prepares you better for technical trail than practising on technical trail. Let off-road running be exactly that: it cannot and never will be the same as running on trail. Running on dirt roads may be fine for Comrades training, but it won’t prepare you for technical trail.

And finally, the fourth point I took away on Saturday was that rather than the concern some had that the Cape’s unpredictable temperatures and the technical difficulty of some sections of the UTCT route might scare off potential entrants in future years, I believe Saturday’s blustery weather and challenging running conditions will attract those who hunger for exactly that. After all, REAL trail running isn’t for sissies.

I think Cape Town and our beloved Table Mountain really set the stage well for trail runners this year, and cast Ultra Trail Cape Town in the perfect light the race needs to cement its reputation as a real, tough, international ultra.

UTCT 2015 did its namesake proud. On so many levels this race is set to go far.

Roll on UCTC 2016!


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