Cape Ul­tra-Trail has an in­ter­na­tional flavour

Weekend Argus (Sunday Edition) - - SPORT -

ONE of the world’s lead­ing ul­tra-trail ath­letes, Dy­lan Bow­man, lines up at next week’s 100km Ul­tra-trail Cape Town (UTCT) as a ma­jor threat to Ryan San­des’ as­pi­ra­tions of se­cur­ing a home vic­tory.

250 ath­letes from all cor­ners of the planet will take part in the fourth edi­tion of UTCT, the first as part of the pres­ti­gious Ul­tra-trail World Tour, with over 700 rac­ing in 35km and 65km events. More than half of the ath­letes en­tered for the 100km race will be fly­ing in from abroad.

The 32-year-old Amer­i­can, Bow­man, has en­joyed a mem­o­rable year on the Ul­tra-trail World Tour cir­cuit, and fol­low­ing his mar­riage last month, will not lack in pos­i­tive en­ergy fac­ing one of the most chal­leng­ing and tech­ni­cal routes on the tour.

Like San­des, Bow­man traded his team-sport pas­sion for a lone­lier sport­ing pur­suit. While the South African dreamt of play­ing rugby for the Spring­boks, Bow­man proved a more-than ca­pa­ble Lacrosse ex­po­nent. Grow­ing up in the out­door mecca and moun­tain par­adise of Boul­der, Colorado, “DBo” as he is known, was in­volved in com­pet­i­tive sport from a young age, be­fore an ini­tial cu­rios­ity in trail run­ning while train­ing for Lacrosse turned into a pas­sion and life­style.

Bow­man has en­joyed podium suc­cess at many pre­mier trail events around the world, but un­like San­des, he has yet to win in two of the USA’s top races. Bow­man placed 3rd in the 2014 West­ern States 100 miler, with San­des win­ning the event in June this year. And while Bow­man’s run­ner-up po­si­tion at the 2011 Leadville 100 miler in the Colorado Rock­ies im­pressed, the Amer­i­can was al­most 30 min­utes be­hind the race win­ner – San­des.

None­the­less, Bow­man has pre­vi­ously ex­celled in South­ern Hemi­sphere races, cap­tur­ing two world ul­tra-trail ti­tles in 2015 – the Ul­tra­trail Aus­tralia and the Tarawera Ul­tra in New Zealand – both over 100km, and in April this year he added an­other world tour ti­tle to his col­lec­tion, tak­ing line hon­ours at the “100 miles of Is­tria” in Croa­tia.

Bow­man tar­geted the 170km Ul­tra­trail Mont Blanc in Septem­ber as his ma­jor fo­cus for the year and he placed a cred­itable sev­enth in what many con­sider the most com­pet­i­tive ul­tra­trail race in his­tory, after run­ning in fourth po­si­tion for much of the race. While happy with a top ten spot at the French event, Bow­man felt he left some­thing be­hind on the trails and is look­ing to end the year on a high with vic­tory in Cape Town.

An­other trail ath­lete chas­ing a podium fin­ish next week also tran­si­tioned from team sport. Swiss ath­lete, Diego “Zpeedy” Pa­zos, traded his pas­sion for foot­ball for rac­ing alpine trails above his home in Lau­sanne, be­fore mak­ing his mark as a lead­ing ath­lete on the world cir­cuit.

The larger-than-life Swiss ath­lete’s rac­ing sig­na­ture is a bushy mous­tache and dap­per bowtie. But his un­usual rac­ing at­tire be­lies his speed on the trails and he boasts a string of vic­to­ries in races over the planet and sev­eral podium po­si­tions in lead­ing events.

Pa­zos’ em­phatic win in last year’s 42km Mont Blanc Marathon was his stand-out per­for­mance to date and marks him as a sig­nif­i­cant threat to San­des’ as­pi­ra­tions, while his suc­cesses at the leg­endary Grand Raid Re­union 100 miler – fourth in 2015 and third in this year’s edi­tion last month – sug­gests he will not strug­gle with the dis­tance in Cape Town.

Two lead­ing ath­letes will line up in the women’s com­pe­ti­tion. Aus­tralia’s Lucy Bartholomew and Swiss vet­eran An­drea Huser rep­re­sent the strong­est com­pe­ti­tion to lo­cal ad­ven­ture racer and trail ath­lete, Robyn Owen, in a con­test po­ten­tially as com­pet­i­tive as the men’s.

A team­mate of Landie Greyling in the global Salomon team, Bartholomew en­joyed a pur­ple patch midyear, win­ning this year’s Ul­tra-trail Aus­tralia in May, fin­ish­ing sec­ond at the 80km Mont Blanc Marathon in France be­fore win­ning the 40km Scafell Race in north Eng­land.

Swiss nurse, An­drea Huser, is sel­dom off the podium in world ul­tra-marathons, boast­ing a sec­ond place in last year’s Ul­tra-trail Mont Blanc and will be look­ing for fur­ther suc­cess in Cape Town, where she has spent sig­nif­i­cant time train­ing in the Euro­pean win­ter. – Stephen Granger

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