An­other R100k for the Swiss ‘Su­per­man’?

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - STEPHEN GRANGER

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’

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