Injuries boost Sue Don Wauchope and Ngubane’s chances up Table Mountain
WITH trail running yet to feature at the Olympics, world championship medals represent the pinnacle for the world’s best competitors. South Africa’s best ultra-athletes race on Table Mountain this morning in the first step to achieving global success.
The first two males and females across the line at the South African Ultra- Trail Championships are guaranteed places on the national team for the IAU Ultra Trail World Championships in Portugal in October, and competition is likely to be fierce.
The annual Hout Bay Trail Challenge hosts the championship, with the traditional 38km course over the Hout Bay mountains extended to provide a race distance of 68km.
Climbs up to Maclear’s Beacon from the Back Table and from the Pipe Track up Kasteelspoort have been added to Karbonkelberg, Llandudno Ravine and Vlakkenberg ascents, making for a truly challenging outing.
Illness and injuries, however, have robbed the event of leading Cape traillist AJ Calitz due to bronchitis. “I desperately want to run, but I’m struggling to find a doctor who will agree with me,” Calitz said yesterday.
“I feel I’m in the best shape of my life and was looking forward to running our national championships over trails I know very well. I’ve worked hard for this race and will be very disappointed if I am unable to compete. Perhaps I will take out my frustrations on the Whale Trail event in two weeks’ time.”
Locals Andrew Hagen and Christiaan Greyling have also withdrawn, so KwaZuluNatal’s Eric Ngubane is the favourite. No stranger to Cape mountain trails – he won the inaugural Ultra Trail Cape Town in 2014 – Ngubane’s strength and speed will be tough to beat today.
His closest competition could be provincial teammate Iain Don Wauchope, whose canny approach has got the better of many a pretender.
North-West Province duo Jock Green and Johnny Young, Gauteng’s Bennie Roux, Pedro Calderon and Ryan Eichstadt and local Nic de Beer are also all strong podium contenders.
It could be the turn of Sue Don Wauchope for the women. She has won titles across the country and living in the foothills of the Drakensberg has provided a perfect “back garden” for her preparation. But veteran Chantel Nienaber can not be discounted.
Landie Greyling has fractured her coccyx and is ruled out. Gauteng’s Nicolette Griffioen is a strong favourite, but has been struggling with a knee injury.
TITLE FAVOURITES: Sue Don Wauchope and Eric Ngubane in the Drakensberg.