Ultra-Trail® Drakensberg Festival of Trail Running Diary Note

 No: utd1909

 25 Apr 2019

Embargo: None

Written by: Nick Tatham

UTD set for exciting third edition

Underberg – Despite some snow on the upper peaks of Lesotho, the 2019 Ultra-Trail® Drakensberg Festival of Trail Running looks set for crisp, clear conditions as runners across the four events set off from Premier Resort Sani Pass this weekend.

Billed as the toughest 100 Miler in the country, the UTD160 has attracted some of the country’s best mountain runners with both the men’s and women’s fields stacked with talent.

Of the 41 runners that have entered into the 100 Miler there are a number of athletes that could claim the overall honours at the second instalment of the gruelling event.

With the likes of Hilton local Matt Dove, Ballito resident Steven Erasmus and Ryno Griesel on the entry list it could be an interesting tussle throughout.

Not only are the trio going to be fighting it out for the overall honours, but there is a time bonus that has been dangled like a carrot in front of them. If any of them can run the 160km course that traverses the Southern Drakensberg in less than 24 hours they stand in line to win R20 000.

This year will be Griesel’s first attempt at the 100 Miler in the Berg, but Dove proved his pedigree finishing fourth in 2018, while Erasmus has a point to prove after withdrawing during the race last year.

In the ladies UTD160 it will be a watershed race with the establishment of the first woman winner of the event.

The quality is there and it is going to be an exciting showdown with Naomi Brand and Tracy Zunkel being two of the runners to beat.

Zunkel, who hails from Bergville, is no stranger to UTD having won the UTD100 in 2017 so the other ladies will have their work cut out for them.

In the UTD100 there will be a dog fight between the likes of Iain Peterkin, Stewart Chaperon and Albert Phungula.

Peterkin won the GCU62 in 2018 but he will have a lot of work on his hands if he is to catch the current Karkloof 100 Miler record holder Phungula.

The ladies showdown in the UTD100 seems easier to call with Nicolette Griffioen standing out on the entry lists.

The 26 year-old is the current South African Trail Running champion and is the course record holder in the SkyRun.

The GCU62 sees a star-studded field assembled for the 62km run through the Southern Drakensberg on the Giants Cup trails.

2018’s UTD160 champion Jock Green has put his name forward while Zimbabwean Nomore Mandivengerei, who is a regular on the top step of the podium at trail runs around KZN, Johardt Van Heerden, multiple South African Trail running champion and Lucky Miya will contest for the title.

Green is the only one of the group that has previous UTD experience.

The ladies field for GCU61 won’t be as big but it will be a good race between Emily Clarke and the queen of the GCU62 Landi Greyling.

Greyling currently holds the ladies record for the event so Clarke will have her work cut out for her.

The SDR30 will see a handful of road running specialists take on the trails.

Recently crowned Two Oceans champion Bongmusa Mthembu will be present at the event along with his Arthur Ford team-mate Thuso Mosiea while Prodigal Khumalo will also be in the running.

Christiaan Greyling will be a difficult man to beat as well as he eyes a maiden SDR30 title.

Toni McCann will be back to defend her title after she claimed the SDR30 ladies title in convincing fashion last year. She was also the overall winner of the event in 2018.

Along with the UTD160, the UTD100 and the GCU62 have all got Time Bonus Prize’s.

For the UTD160 ladies race, if you run under 27 hours then you win R20 000.

In the UTD100 the Time Bonus Prize for men is set at 12 hours and the ladies is set at 14 hours.

In the GCU62 the men’s time to beat is six hours and the women’s time is seven hours.

If more than one runner finishes under the time then the money is shared.

More information can be found at www.ultratraildrakensberg.com


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Noami Brand will be one of the ladies to watch at the UTD160, the longest and toughest race which is part of the Ultra-Trail® Drakensberg Festival of Trail Running starting this weekend. Anthony Grote/
Gameplan Media

2018 saw Jock Green win the UTD160, but this year he will be back to take on the GCU62 at the Ultra-Trail® Drakensberg Festival of Trail Running starting this weekend. Anthony Grote/
Gameplan Media

Toni McCann stormed home to win the SDR30 in 2018 and she will return to defend her title at this year's Ultra-Trail® Drakensberg Festival of Trail Running taking place this weekend. Kirsten Oliver/
Gameplan Media

Some incredible scenery will greet runners when they take on the various distances that make up the Ultra-Trail® Drakensberg Festival of Trail Running taking place this weekend in the Southern Drakensberg. Anthony Grote/
Gameplan Media

It was an interesting week for event organisers Running Man Adventures who had to take on the snow in Lesotho while marking the route for the UTD160, the longest of the events at the Ultra-Trail® Drakensberg this weekend. Supplied/
Gameplan Media

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