Viet & Zunckel crowned first UTD winners

French star Vincent Viet was in a class of his own as he powered to victory at the inaugural Ultra-Trail® Drakensberg this weekend. Image by Anthony Grote/ Gameplan Media

Underberg – The Southern Drakensberg provided the perfect stage as experienced runners Vincent Viet and Tracy Zunckel powered their way to wins in the gruelling 100km Ultra-Trail® Drakensberg over the weekend.

The 34-year old French star Viet has been in South Africa training for a number of months and saw UTD as the perfect opportunity to hone his skills one last time before he heads back to Europe for a big summer of competition.

“It was an absolutely amazing experience,” Viet mentioned after his win.

“The race had absolutely everything that I wanted and more. From the route, to the views, to the volunteers – it was incredible!

“Sometimes it did get difficult but the support at the check points was awesome and helped me get through.”

Viet’s 12:37:25 was just under two hours faster than second placed Pedro Calderon, however he was only focused on maintaining his pace and staying in front.

“I never knew what the gap was back to second during the race and I just made sure that I was consistent throughout.

“It was important for me that I maintained a manageable speed because it was a long race but I never thought that my lead would be that big at the end!” he expressed.

The Drakensberg landscape was a major selling point for the race organisers and Viet’s reaction suggests that the vistas and views were as special as they were hoping.

“I managed to take in the sunrise on Sani Pass, saw Reed Buck and Eland as well as baboons at sunset.

“I think that yesterday I was the happiest runner in the world!” Viet gushed.

While the withdrawal of potential winner Jock Green at the 62km mark was a big blow to the race, it meant the podium was wide open and Calderon finished in second with Lauri Tuomaala picking up the bronze medal.

The ladies 100km UTD was just as one-sided as Tracy Zunckel obliterated the field to take the overall women’s title by 46 minutes when she finished in 15:23:43. Zunckel’s effort also meant she finished in sixth place overall.

Zunckel’s monumental effort was too much for the chasing ladies with Suzette von Broembsen finishing in second and Sandra le Roux ending in third, a mega one hour and 39 minutes behind Von Broembsen.

The event incorporated a number of other events, including a 62km Giants Cup Uncut (GCU). This exciting race took runners along the fabled Giants Cup hiking trail with Christiaan Greyling showing his class by taking the honours ahead of Ben Brimble with his wife Landie Greyling an impressive third place overall.

It was an important piece of training for Landie Greyling who is lining up an assault on the iconic Ultra-Trail® Mont Blanc later in the year. The 62km GCU proved to be the ideal preparation for her.

Greyling took the honours in the ladies with a time an incredible two hours 44 minutes ahead of Andrea Devine in second with Mmamapudi Kubjane finishing in third.

In the shortest one-day race of the event, the 30km Sundowner Run, Skippy Claassens took the honours in just over three hours. He finished ahead of ladies winner Marzelle van der Merwe while Lance Wynne rounded out the podium.

The Ultra-Trail® Drakensberg also included a two-day race. The Drakensberg Rock Jumper saw runners take on a 15km-a-day race that was based at the Sani Pass Hotel. Ross Treleaven took the overall honours ahead of Gregory du Toit with Delphinus Sauer in third.

In the ladies race, Catherine Slevin was the fastest over the 30kms with Susan McKenzie taking second and Kate Frost nailing down the bottom step of the podium.

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100km Ultra-Trail® Drakensberg
1.Vincent Viet (FRA) 12:37:25
2.Pedro Calderon 14:31:45
3.Lauri Tuomaala 14:33:19
4.Stephan Wahl 15:11:20
5.Warren Hawkins 15:22:53
6.Tracy Zunckel 15:23:43
7.Armand Du Plessis 15:31:18
8.Andrew Jansen Van Rensburg 15:57:12
9.Suzette Von Broembsen 16:09:49
10.Leon Roode 16:45:29

1.Tracy Zunckel 15:23:43
2.Suzette Von Broembsen 16:09:49
3.Sandra le Roux 17:48:52
4.Anouk Baars (NED) 22:37:27
5.Debbie Densham 27:13:00

62km Giants Cup Uncut
1.Christiaan Greyling 6:41:39
2.Ben Brimble 7:32:10
3.Landie Greyling 7:50:19
4.Ross Michaux 8:36:16
5.Stuart Mcconnachie 8:43:18
6.Mark Gething 8:52:35
7.Grobler Basson 9:12:01
8.Mathew Schneider 9:20:04
9.Gordon Turnbull 9:23:59
10.Gregor Sclanders 9:34:34

1.Landie Greyling 7:50:19
2.Andrea Devine 10:34:14
3.Mmamapudi Kubjane 11:24:58

30km Sundowner Run
1.Skippy Claassens 3:10:48
2.Marzelle Van der Merwe 3:28:56
3.Lance Wynne 3:55:33
4.Wisdom Sangale 4:00:36
5.Gina Treleaven 4:12:51

1.Marzelle Van der Merwe 3:28:56
2.Gina Treleaven 4:12:51
3.Aishah Boukili 4:49:49

30km Two-day Rock Jumper
1.Ross Treleaven
2.Gregory du Toit
3.Delphinus Sauer

1.Catherine Slevin
2.Susan McKenzie
3.Kate Frost