More than 400 trail runners made their way to the Helderberg Nature Reserve on Sunday as they took on one of the mighty beasts of South African trail running, the Helderberg Mountain Challenge (HMC). The HMC offers three distances on the day, but none of these are in any way easy. The 24km HMC includes just over 2000m of vertical climb and the same in descent. The weather played along and runners were treated to perfect conditions and views stretching into eternity.
After being penalised by 30 minutes for not running with his full compulsory kit, Bernard Rukadza was relegated from first to sixth position in the overall standings. This meant Dylan Solms claimed his first victory at the Mountain Challenge Series as he came home in a time of 3:11:07. Nicholas Rupanga moved up to second place in 3:20:35, with Dion Middelkoop claiming third position in a time of 3:26:44. In an exemplary show of sportsmanship, Solms handed his prize money to Rukadza, showing not only his own class, but also what trail running is all about.
In the ladies race, Katya Soggot once again surged to the front of the field, finishing half an hour ahead of her closest competitor and 10th overall in a time of 3:44:40. Second position was taken by Minette Naude in 4:15:09 with Sylvie Scherzinger coming home in third place with her time of 4:17:43.
More drama in HMC Lite
In the HMC Lite 15km the racing was fierce at the front of the field as Peter Tswayo, Edson Kumwamba and Timothy Chambers raced to the top of West Peak under 50 minutes. Tswayo could not hold on to his lead though and had to settle for third place behind Kumwamba and Chambers. They were locked in a fierce battle which ended in a sprint finish down the finishing shoot. They both crossed the finish line in 1:26:20, but Chambers relinquished victory because Tswayo had lost time earlier in the race because he had taken a wrong turn. Tswayo came home in third position with a time of 1:29:30.
Marguerite van Niekerk followed up on her second place at the JMC Lite two weeks prior with a victory at the HMC Lite as she came home eighth overall in a time of 1:46:22. Chantel Nienaber followed shortly after in 1:52:14, with Taryn King completing the podium with a time of 1:57:18.
Young talent, exciting potential
It didn’t take long for the JMR runners to start pouring in as Ivan Kruger led them home in a time of 55:27, followed by 15-year-old Jacques van Schalkwyk in 56:25 and Patrick Smythe in 57:07.
The ladies race was won by the young Megan Leslie who was the only female runner to break the one hour barrier as she ran home in a time of 59:23. Her sister, Caitlin Leslie was second over the line in a time of 1:03:01 with Erica Goedhals taking third spot in 1:04:04.
It was another superb day on the mountains and we can’t wait for the final race of the Mountain Challenge Series at the Marloth Mountain Challenge on 26 September. With Rukadza, Solms, Rupanga, Middelkoop, Martin Kleynhans, Soggot and Naude having completed both the JMC and HMC they are sure to make their way to Swellendam in September in a bid to complete the Series. For more information on the Mountain Challenge Series please visit the website at www.mountainchallenge.co.za.
A big thank you to all our sponsors, BOS Sport, Protea Hotels, Graham Beck wines, Belgian Beer Company and Spur for their support and of course to all the runners who get up early to enjoy the challenge and make it so epic!