In­juries boost Sue Don Wau­chope and Ngubane’s chances up Ta­ble Moun­tain

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - LIFE - STEPHEN GRANGER

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.

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