The fourth event in the Mountain Marathon Series delivered mist, sun, wind, rain, and cold in that order. But even with these conditions the runners and organisers considered themselves lucky that race day was Saturday and not Sunday as the cold front had arrived in full force by then. Mountain Marathons are unlikely to disappoint as each of them is set on a spectacular South African mountain, and this one is out of the cosy ANEW Ingeli Forest Resort, set at the foot of the little-known range that separates KZN from the Eastern Cape.
The 40km set off before sunrise when the signs of a moody day were already there. The mist blew in and out, opening up spectacular views, before closing in and hiding just how steep the grassy slopes of the Ingeli are. The hard work all takes place in the first half of this Mountain Marathon, with the second half a much faster descent mainly on forestry road contrasting the mountain wilderness and tufty rugged trail that traverses the 12km of the real mountain this course has to offer. On the racing front Gijima runner, Perfect Dlamini made his intentions clear growing a lead over the mountain, as did Ruth Cozien in the women’s race, known for running terrain like this barefoot, took a commanding lead. And on the experiential front, the field spread out but kept a tidy pace to all be off the mountain before the first downpour of the day at 12noon. There were no surprises on the finish line when Dlamini won in a time of 3:53:19 ahead of Zothile Moto and Lloyd Sithole in 4:14:59 and 4:18:10 respectively. Cozien finished at the front of the lady’s field in a time of 4:36:12, with Anke Bring running 5:43:52 and Ncomeka Gumede 5:47:05
Men's 40km Podium
Zothile Moto (2nd), Perfect Dlamini (1st), and Lloyd Sithole (3rd)
(From left to right)
Lady's 40km Podium
Ncomeka Gumede (3rd), Ruth Cozien (1st), and Anke Bring (2nd)
(From left to right)
Of course, these are family events, offering every runner and walker something, and while significantly less steep the 20km, 10km, and 5km courses all presented their challenges. The vibe at the finish line was one of accomplishment and the trail running community came together again to celebrate running in spectacular places like Ingeli. It was great to have many locals enjoy the shorter distances and then settling into the cosy vibe around the resort for the rest of the day. The final race in the series awaits on the 8th of October in the same format at Uitsoek, near Nelspruit, Mpumulanga before the Series Final at Lesotho Ultra on the first weekend of November.