Another R100k for the Swiss ‘Superman’?
SWISS Marc Lauenstein returns to the scene of one of his greatest triumphs when he takes on a strong field in this year’s Otter African Trail Run between Nature’s Valley and Storm’s River next Saturday.
Last year, Lauenstein achieved “the impossible” by running the 42km trail in under four hours, cashing in on organiser Mark Collins’ bold offer of a R100 000 for the first runner to break the fourhour barrier.
Collins thought his money was safe. Lauenstein thought otherwise and stopped the clock with 31 seconds to spare.
Lauenstein gave away half his winnings to two local charities, one to advance endurance sport opportunities for runners from disadvantaged backgrounds and the other to aid the conservation of the Tsitsikama coastline.
The 36- year- old dentist from Cormondreche is a formidable competitor, having cut his teeth on mountain orienteering. He won silver medals in world championship events in 2005 and 2006.
“There are only a handful of athletes in the world capable of running the Otter in under four hours,” race director Collins said.
“You need the running engine of an Olympic marathon runner and the dexterity of a professional dancer.
“Marc clearly has been blessed with these gifts and in addition, his world-class career in orienteering further equipped him with the physical skills and mental attributes necessary to suc- ceed in his goal.”
Lauenstein is favoured to retain his title, although 24-year-old Capetonian Kane Reilly is determined to chase him all the way to the finish and improve on his performance last year.
Reilly finished over 30 minutes behind Lauenstein in second position. “I’ve really been focused on the Otter this year,” he said.
“Marc is an exceptional athlete, but I believe I can stay with him this time. I’m definitely in better shape, so we will see what happens on the day.”
And Collins has done the unthinkable. Well aware of Lauenstein’s prowess and form, the charismatic race director has put up another R100 000 for the first athlete to break the four-hour barrier for the reverse direction race, and for the first woman to better four hours 30 minutes.
Although many rate the “Retto” trail tougher than the Classic Otter, with a challenging technical section towards the end of the race, few would bet against the Swiss “Superman” to make it a memorable double next weekend.
MARC LAUENSTEIN: ‘Blessed with exceptional gifts’