Oliviershoek Pass, KwaZulu-Natal, 19th March 2016 – This weekend saw some of South Africa’s finest talents take to the trails in pursuit of the SA Long Distance Trail Champ title.
The SA Trail Champs drew in runners from across the country to compete in the Drakensberg Northern Trail, hosted by KZN Trail Running. With the ‘DNT’ only being in it’s second edition, the race is still very new on the trail scene and opened a clear entryway for runners to showcase their potential.
Each field had it’s probable victors. With the likes of Johardt Van Heerden, Christiaan Greyling, Iain Don-Wauchope, Lucky Mahlangu, Stewart Chapperon, Mlungici Mazibuko, Chris Strydom and Kane Reilly in the mens field, it went unsaid that anything short of maximum efforts would squander any chances at podium.
In the ladies field, Nicolette Griffioen, Su Don-Wauchope, Marzelle Van Der Merwe, Meg Mackenzie and Lerentia Strydom set the standard of the females competition, each hunting to stamp their dominance into SA Trail Champ history.
The route posed a multitude of challenges to its runners. For the first 20km, runners traversed along the border of KZN and Freestate along the shrub-laced ridgeline between the two provinces. Runners were scattered through the mountains surrounded by towering peaks and sandstone valleys. The route then reaches its high point after a lung-busting climb to a 2341m summit. Runners broke offtrail and chased the contours to the top of Stoney Pass. The route then dropped back down into KZN and took on the final climb back to base camp.
Johardt Van Heerden stunned everyone with an impressive victory and retains his title of the mens SA Long Distance Trail Champ for his second consecutive year. Iain Don-Wauchope and Christiaan Greyling closed the podium for the mens field.
Nicolette Griffioen, already with the SA Ultra Trail Champ title to her name, claimed the DNT and SA Long Distance Trail Champ win for ladies, making her the first female to hold both titles. Su Don-Wauchope and Marzelle Van Der Merwe followed after Nicolette to take their well deserved positions beside her on podium.
Runners experienced their highest high’s, along with their lowest low’s, but after enduring 40km at the mercy of the berg, crossing the finish line brought emotions flooding into the DNT base camp.
Young or old, no matter the skill level, the trail running lifestyle is a unique one. The runners went home with smiles on their faces, some blisters on their feet, and a head held high after getting a taste of what the berg has to offer and conquering what they got served.
A phenomenal performance by all athletes and an outstanding result for the SA Trail Champs.
Congratulations on your results and thank you to all runners, supporters and sponsors for your involvement and a special thanks to KZN Trail Running on hosting another world class trail run.
40km DNT and SA Trail Champs Results:
1) Johardt Van Heerden
2) Iain Don-Wauchope
3) Christiaan Greyling
1) Nicolette Griffioen
2) Su Don-Wauchope
3) Marzelle Van Der Merwe
See you on the trails.