It won’t all be fun and games for Bastille Day

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - LIFE -

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.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.