It’s almost time for the 2016 South African Ultra trail running Championships and by the looks of it; it’s going to be something special!
Apart from the honour of being the South African trail running champion, those taking part will also run for a place in the national trail running teams that will take part in the IAU World Trail Championships in Portugal, as well as an international race in France, both in October.
What makes it even more interesting is that we also have one of the strongest fields ever assembled for a national championships and the competition will be fierce.
This year's championship will be the 68 km Hout Bay Challenge that will start and finish in the Hout Bay harbour on July 23. It is a new course specifically designed for the national championship by race director Richard Sutton and to be fair to those coming from other regions; the course will only be announced next week. It follows the basic course of the existing Hout Bay trail challenge with some 28 km added at various points that will have the runners running all over the Table Mountain National Park.
It may well be one of the most difficult ultra courses we have ever seen in South Africa and those taking part will have to bring their A game. They will have to conquer more than 4,500m of climbing – including four climbs longer than 2 km with average gradients between 12% and 22% - tricky descents, lots of technical single track, some beach running and typical Cape winter weather. Clearly a hard-core challenge that will test every aspect of trail running and the winners will be true champions in all respects. If all goes well for them, the top athletes are expected to do it in about 6 to 7 hours.
It all makes for a mouth-watering prospect and we will publish a preview on the race soon and tell you who the top-contenders are, as well as more information on the selection criteria for the national teams.
The existing Hout Bay Trail Challenge will also be run and action starts at 07:40 (ultra) and 8:00 (40km) in the Hout Bay harbour with more information available at www.houtbaychallenge.co.za.