The fifth edition of the Lesotho Ultra Trail, presented by Metropolitan Lesotho and hosted by Maliba Lodge, dished up more excitement in one day than possibly all previous running of the event combined. With crystal clear conditions greeting 160 runners on the start line, no one could have predicted that later in the day participants would encounter snow and sleet, and then later clear sun skies and sunshine to welcome the final runners across the finish line.
Lesotho Ultra Skymarathon® is a 50km trail run through the Maluti Mountains of Lesotho in Southern Africa. A remote race traversing trails primarily established and used by livestock and shepherds, of which a majority lie at over 3000 metres above sea level.
Featuring a strong international contingent from Spain, France and Canada, the competition was fierce at the front of the field. Ultimately, South Africans Johaart van Heerden and Nicolette Griffioen handled the extremely technical terrain and high altitude best, claiming the mens’ and womens’ top podium in the 50km Ultra Skymarathon®. After a long-term injury, the 2016 South African Long Distance Trail Champion firmly announced his come-back by setting a new course record of 5:22:53. Twenty six minutes later, Kwenza Ngubane from the Gijima Trust claimed second place in his first attempt at the race with Spanish runner Joel Aubeso another seven minutes back. In the womens’ race, Griffioen shared the lead from the outset, but pushed head approaching Camp Davis at the 15 kilometre mark before setting off across the top of the Maluti escarpment. She claimed the win in 6:37:48 with Marzelle van der Merwe crossing the line in 6:46:56, only nine minutes behind. Simone Barret finished third a further twenty seven minutes back.
The flurries of snow proved more challenging for the participants towards the mid and back field who had to ensure they kept their pace up to keep warm. The notorious second climb on the 50km Ultra Skymarathon that starts with 10km to go, again proved the most challenging aspect of the course “The Maluti are big mountains, and running long distance at high altitude up and down steep the gradients challenges the best trail runners from around the world” said Lauren Booth who took up the race directorship after her husband Andrew took the start line.
“As a brand passionate about sharing the trails with our community, Raidlight was really excited to partner with Lesotho Ultra Trail in 2017. The iconic race delivered all that was expected of it, and more. Sun, rain, snow, spectacular views combined with mountainous technical trails that made the race and the entire weekend an experience that everyone passionate about trail should experience, and we will be back for more in 2018” said Anthony Rush, managing director of Raidlight South Africa.
“We are proud to support a race of this level that showcases, in everyway, what the mountain kingdom has to offer” Tsokolo Makeka, Metropolitan Lesotho.
Entries for the 2018 event will be opening soon. Visit www.lesothoultratrail.com
RESULTS – 50km:
NICOLETTE GRIFFIOEN 06:37:48
MARZELLE VAN DER MERWE 06:46:56
SIMONE BARRETT 07:14:16
JOHARDT VAN HEERDEN 5:22:53
KWENZA NGUBANE 05:48:49
JOEL AUBESO 05:55:41
Results – 38km
PAUL MAKOSHA 04:37:57
TSOKOLO MOATHI 04:55:32
MPAKI TEEKE 05:19:14
AMY BURGER 07:13:18
HANALIE JORDAAN 07:30:32
KATE QUIN 07:32:11