Underberg – This year’s Sani Stagger and Stagger Trail events will see thousands flock to the Southern Drakensberg to take on the iconic Sani Pass and the trails that surround the Premier Resort Sani Pass on Saturday.

For the second year in a row both the full marathon and the half marathon have been sold out and the majority of entries in the Stagger Trail have been snapped up, setting the scene for an exciting day of running through the Southern Drakensberg.

With ideal warm and clear weather on the cards for the weekend, conditions should be close to ideal for the runners taking on the three events.

From a challengers perspective there are two defending champions in the field for the full marathon with current record holder Skhumbuzo Dlamini returning to the event as well as Prodigal Khumalo who won the event in 2012.

Interestingly, the 2018 half marathon winner Solicitor Manduwa will also be taking part in the full marathon this year. Manduwa dominated the 21km event last year, finishing over six minutes ahead of second place.

Third place finisher in the half marathon last year Minehle Ngcobo has also thrown his name into the full marathon hat this year.

Philip Shezi will carry the hopes of the local Underberg community on his shoulders at the event. He will be hoping to turn his numerous podium finishes at the race into a gold medal.

Thompson Magagane, who ended fourth in 2017 behind Shezi, will want to finish ahead of the local runner this year.

2018’s bronze medallist in the women’s marathon Roxanne Vale will be back for another shot at the full marathon.

Sticking with the theme of runners progressing from the half-marathon to the full, last year’s 21km silver medallist Jeanette Jordan will also be taking part in the 42km event to the summit of Sani Pass and back.

In the half marathon perspective local athlete Jeffrey Sosibo, who finished in fourth place last year, will have an opportunity to better his result for the 21km dash down Sani Pass.

He will have his work cut out for him as 2017’s third place finisher Martin Ngwenya will also return for a shot at first place in the half marathon.

Ngwenya finished in seventh place in 2018 and will want to improve on that result at this weekend’s showdown.

The women’s half marathon title is going to be wide open with 2019 and 2018’s defending champions absent.

The most notable entry is Nicole Wiggill who finished third in 2017 and seventh in 2018. The Underberg local will understand the conditions and might have her eye on the overall women’s title in 2019.

Now into its second year the Stagger Trail has grown in popularity with runners having the option of a 38km trail run or a 21km run.

Last year’s 38km trail run runner-up Mdu Zondi returns for another shot at the title, but he will have his work cut out for him as Travers Pellew, who finished third in 2018, will also be back to claim the title that Lyle Timm won twelve months ago.

Runners also get an opportunity to enjoy the trails around the Premier Resort Sani Pass in the 21km trail run perspective, while less athletic but equally enthusiastic participants can take on a shorter Southern Lodestar Foundation (SLF) Fun Run/Walk.

All proceeds from the fun run will be donated to a project that will see the upliftment of infrastructure at the seven crèches that fall under Southern Lodestar feeding programme.

With good weather expected, the brand new market set up on lawns close to the resort will provide athletes and their families with a chance to browse for food and drink as well as local crafts, with live music on offer to round off the fun-filled day in the shadow of the fabled Sani Pass.

For more information visit www.sanistagger.co.za