Race Report: Royal Drak MTB & Trail Run Challenge 7 April 2018

Although officially a race day, the atmosphere at All Out Adventures on Saturday was ridiculously relaxed, with just a hint of trepidation as participants of the aHa Alpine Heath 50km MTB considered the task that lay before them. This year we reverted to the original route with the brutal Greenfire Climb and brilliant Grotto route to finish. As it turned out, it was the 20km Trail Runners who should have been worried, with a marshal hiccup resulting in an extra 6kms being added to the route…

The day dawned brilliant and sunny – quite a relief from the late rains that had showered us on the previous 2 weekends. The program for the day was the 20km Trail Run, 10km Trail Run, followed by the aHa Alpine Heath 50km MTB, Montusi Mountain Lodge 25km MTB and the Cavern Drakensberg Resort& Spa 10km Family Fun Ride / Run, and finally the 1km Kiddies Race at 11:30.

The 20km Trail Run got underway promptly at 7:30, and after the muddle up at the first intersection, the runners go underway properly, and impressed us all with their perseverance and speed – the winner coming in under 2 hours! The first man home was Mlunguis Mazibuko from Mazizini in 1:58:54, followed by Mondli Madonsela in 2:03:01 with Meketsi Dlamini in 2:04:34. First lady home was Soul Robertson from Doha in 3:13:54, followed by Lindsay Du Plessis in 3:30:12 and Ansa Human in 3:30:24. We half expected to be met by a lynch mob when they got back, but maybe they were too tired! One of the participants wrote to us after the race, and her feedback embodies a really powerful concept – that our hardships are actually just opportunities to grow.

Thanks to you guys for a fabulous event. At first, I was so upset about the extra 5,8km loop but then changed my mind… I  am very proud that my body managed such a long distance… and so now I am GRATEFUL for the extra loop – it’s my new personal record (my longest race was 15km, that was about 20 years ago!!). I have broken my mental barrier!! Plus, the Berg scenery is so beautiful, it was easy to be happy and enjoy the wide open spaces and fresh air.

Thank you Soul! 

Happily the 10km Trail Run got underway without incident, and the runners blazed around the course, with the first finishers coming in in under 35 minutes! The winner was Mxolisi Ndlovu in 33:04, followed by Bonga Moloi in 34:09 and Thabisang Nyabi in 34:57. The first lady home was Cynthia Bekker in 44:38, followed by Tracey Ollerman in 50:19 and Jean Lynne van Heerden in 59:00.

The small group of die hards who lined up for the aHa Alpine Heath 50km MTB Challenge comprised mostly of past participants who had returned to test themselves against the mountain once again. Our 9:00 starting time was probably a bit late in view of the temperatures that were rapidly rising with the sunshine, but this route is a brilliant tour of the area, and fortunately the resorts on the route provided excellent seconding tables, so the participants were well fed and watered on their arduous trek. We’re not sure that the winners actually ever stopped though if you consider that they came in just under the 3 hour mark. The winner was Nick Lockelt in 2:54:35, followed by Michael- John Acres in2:56:56 and Charl Marais in 3:01:49. Charl was followed closely by the first lady home – our 2016 ladies winner – Andrea Deboer in 3:30:52.

The Montusi Mountain Lodge 25km MTB Intermediate always attracts a varied field of young and old, and this year was no different. The downhill Berm start set the tone for fast and fun riding, which was carried through the new S- bends down the Windmill Trail and Forbidden Pass. The first rider home was Ralph Gilbert in 1:20:53, followed closely by Andrew Headley in 1:21:55. In third place – one of our local farmers and most eligible bachelors in the district – JP Van Reenen! We didn’t even know that JP owned a bike! The first youngster (13 years and under) home was Christian Naude – he finished 8th overall in a fantastic time of 1:36:41. The first lady home was Ronel Ten Napel in 1:37:23, followed by Cynthia Bekker in 1:43:47 and Camilla Moll in 1:47:03

The Cavern Drakensberg Resort & Spa 10km Family Fun Ride / Run actually turned out to be the most eventful race of the day. One forgets how fast some of these little people ride, and a couple got in with the 25km leaders, and missed the 10 /25km split. One little guy even missed the left turn at Montusi Lodge, and ended up on our neighbours farm! Next year we will pinch the chevrons off the N3 to mark the turns so these speedy kids wont miss them! This race is always a testament to these children’s determination, and it’s actually humbling. The little guy who visited our neighbours returned triumphantly with enough gas in the tank for a bungee bounce, and the youngest rider to complete the whole 10km route was 4 years old. We take our hats off to the Mums and Dads who encourage these little riders, and look forward to see them grow in the sport.

The 1km Kiddies Race around the Adventure Centre was delightful! It took a while to lure the kids out of the amazing Kids Zone hosted by the staff of Royal Drakensberg Primary School, but pretty soon the start line was crowded with strider bikes and runners in tutus. We were fortunate to have at our disposal a small army of big brothers and sisters who ably herded the littlies around the track, and the paparazzi was out in full force, and the kids had a blast.

It was a fantastic family day all around. The chefs form Aha Alpine Heath did a marvellous job in keeping everybody fed with delicious egg & bacon rolls for breakfast and wors rolls for lunch, and the N3TC Chill Zone was a huge hit with all the tired participants. The weekend wouldn’t have been possible without the amazing support of all the sponsors – N3TC, Aha Alpine Heath, Montusi Mountain Lodge, and The Cavern Drakensberg Resort and Spa, and the tireless efforts of the surrounding businesses who worked together to prepare the tracks, man the registration and ensure that the marshals were transported and fed! We are ever appreciative of our landowners generosity in allowing access to the trails through their properties, and we would also like to thank our spot prize and goodie bag sponsors whose contribution make the event so special. Well done to all the participants who came out to play in support of a wonderful cause.

We look forward to seeing you in 2019!

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