Ultra Trail Cape Town - Who to watch??

The second running of the Ultra Trail Cape Town is happening this Saturday, the 3rd October in the mother city. The event has some talent from around the world and we thought it would be fitting to list a few of the top men and women in the 100km to look out for on the race day. If you are in Cape Town this weekend, please come and show your support for this iconic event, all informtation on Aid Stations and support areas are listed on their website - click here

Gift Kelehe (RSA)
Following his Comrades 2015 win in a time of 5 hours and 38 minutes, 34 year old Gift Kelehe has a new target in sight; to conquer South Africa's iconic Table Mountain. Kelehe is quite aware of the difference between Comrades and a race like UTCT.  “I have heard it’s a tough but beautiful course so it will be a good challenge for me. Mountain running is quite different to the races I usually do so I am excited about going to Cape Town and giving this one a shot."  His coach, John Hamlett, is confident that Gift will be ready. “Changing the game from road to trail makes for fresh thinking, and the training we do in Dulstroom is really trail running.  Determination and commitment are a daily norm.” Hamlett is here to support Kelehe on his 100km journey.
Salameh al Aqra (Jordan)
44 year old Salameh has won Marathon des Sables 5 times. Says Salameh, “I'm a runner specializing in long races and participated in many mountain races I will be very happy with my debut in South Africa will be a new adventure and I'm looking forward to win the 100km.” We don’t know if we have sufficient sand on Table Mountain to keep Salameh happy, but we can’t wait to see how this tough runner performs at UTCT.
Luke Powers (RSA)
Cape Town born and bred local, 44 year old Luke Powers, won the 80km PUFfeR race in September this year.  Luke, with his wild hair and penchant for trucker caps, describes himself as “Just an amateur who loves getting out there and running”. With multiple Comrades under his belt, narrowly missing a silver on more than one occasion, a passion for South African running and tourism, Luke considers Table Mountain a nature reserve in his back garden and can’t wait to take on UTCT. He was injured for the inaugural race in 2014, and regrets missing it.
Christiaan Greyling (RSA)
Salomon and Buff® ambassador, Christiaan Greyling, is no stranger to the South African trail racing scene. Originally a farm boy from Mpumalanga, Christiaan now resides in Stellenbosch, frequenting mountain ranges such as Jonkershoek as often as some might dunk an Ouma rusk in a cup of coffee. Christiaan and his trail queen wife, Landie, race regularly on SA soil as well as abroad. From a win at the 2015 Grootvaderbosch trail race to second place at the 2015 Transalps multi day race, Christiaan has been busy this year, and is in tip top shape. When asked how he feels about the upcoming challenge, Christiaan is as humble as always, “Mixed… excited but also scared. This will be certainly a big test of endurance.”
Johnny Young (RSA)
Johnny Young has 18 Comrades medals scattered around his home, 10 of which are silver. That’s a pretty impressive collection. In his trail history, Johnny recently represented ASICS South Africa at the Beat the Sun relay in Chamonix. Young is a dominee from Rustenburg, South Africa. He represents the Run Walk For Life Athletics Club but definitely leans towards the running side of things… not much walking expected from this champ.
Andrew Hagen (RSA)
Andrew hails from Stellenbosch in the Cape, and is a multiple winner of the Three Peaks Challenge, was second at the 2015 Hout Bay Challenge and descends Platteklip faster than most people can say “Altra Trail Shoes”. Also previous winner of Lesotho Ultra Trail, Hagen is a top contender this year.
Kerry Ann Marshall (RSA)
Cape based physio, Kerry Ann, is a definite favourite for the ladies 100km race. Her year thus far has had plenty of impressive highlights:
•             2015 AfricanX mixed team second place
•             Comrades Silver medal
•             2015 Bastille Day 50km win
•             2015 ADDO Elephant Trail Run win
•             2015 Hout Bay Challenge win (by more than 30 minutes mind you…)
Can this bubbly forest pixie fight through to a win at UTCT? Back from a week long “training adventure” with hubby at the Transapls race, Kerry is in top form, ready to give it a full go with a smile and in style. We love watching Kerry race.
Devon Yanko (USA)
Can the local girls use their home ground advantage against this formidable force? Devon is a runner in every sense of the word. She runs road, trail, and mountains from 5km to 100 milers.  Devon has run more than 30 Marathons and 30 Ultras since 2006, winning many of them.  Devon’s marathon PB is 2 hours 38 minutes.  She has raced in South Africa before, with a 3rd place at the prestigious Two Oceans Ultra, and 5th in Comrades Marathon.  Having snuck quietly in to Cape Town just before the Sanlam Cape Town Marathon on the 20th of September, where she rocked a solid sub-3 hour, Yanko has been exploring the trails of Table Mountain in preparation for Ultra Trail Cape Town. Will she take the stars and stripes over the line in first place?
Chantel (Hotpants) Nienaber (RSA)
Chantel was on podium in UTCT 2014, and has raved about the race ever since. Says Chantel, “UTCT gives you the opportunity to explore CT in a unique way, it is also a very well balanced trail with a bit of everything but definitely not for sissies.” Sissy is not a word we would use to describe this athletic dynamo. Instantly recognisable for her unique trail running outfits, which always include a pair of brightly coloured hotpants, Chantel is game for anything from pole dancing to warrior racing – and has a proud trail running CV. This year her highlights include:
•             1st Ladies Team | AFB SOX MULTI DAY TRAIL RACE | 2015
•             2nd Lady | Bastille Day TrailRun 25km | 2015
•             2nd Lady | Helderberg Mountain Challenge-Lite | 2015
•             1st Lady | Anna Bason Trail | 2015
•             3rd Lady | PumaTrail Run | 2015
•             3rd Lady | Jeep Warrior Race | 2015
•             1st Lady | Knysna Trail Run | 2015

Please come and show your support for these talented runners!!

Articke by: Kim Stephens

Photo credit: Nick Muzik and Brett Nattrass