It won’t all be fun and games for Bastille Day
FRANCE is recognised as the global centre of trail racing, boasting the world’s best trail athletes and the most well-supported events.
Closer to home, the Bastille Day trail races take place on mountainous routes around the Berg River Dam. They comprise challenging courses over distances up to 50 km that constitute the largest single trail racing event in the country.
The Bastille has become associated with icy temperatures, spectacular landscapes, freezing water crossings and colourful costumes, while competitors will need to shun French maidens offering sherry, hot chocolate and other distractions along the way.
But regardless of the fun and games, expect some competitive racing as several of South Africa’s leading athletes test themselves on the terrain.
Last year’s Franschhoek-based winner of the 50km race, Julian Atkinson, defends his title. But he may find the going a little tougher than last year, with South Africa’s leading ultra-distance trail athlete Ryan Sandes using the event as a warm-up for his European racing programme next month. Former Puffer winner Luke Powers and Pieter Calitz will also like be in the mix.
Brenna Coupland is a strong contender for line honours in the women’s contest, in the absence of last year’s winner Kerry-Ann Marshall.
Competition is promised in the 35km event, where UltraTrail Cape Town champion Christiaan Greyling will be up against fast-improving Wesley Sweetham and William Leslie, while Meg McKenzie returns to local racing against Linda Doke. Kane Reilly, one of the country’s leading middle-distance trail athletes, is strongly favoured to defend his title in the 25km.
All races will finish at the Old Bell’s Lodge on the dam, with the winners in the 50km expected home shortly after noon, following the pre-dawn start.