The 100km Ultra-trail Cape Town saw disappointment, and some surprises, with two of the Men’s race favourites Prodigal Khumalo and Ryan Sandes being forced to withdraw, and both the Men’s and the Women’s race winners were taken by surprise with their wins.
German Janosch Kowalczyk, 28, came first in a time of 10 hours 22 minutes, with Swedes Elov Olsson (10:41:49) and Johan Lantz (10:46:24) finishing second and third respectively. The first South African man in was fourth-placed Christiaan Greyling (11:22:30), who had previously won this race in 2015.
In the Women’s race, 24 year old Zimbabwean Emily Hawgood crossed the finish line first in 11 hours 49 minutes and 25 seconds. South African Kerry-Ann Marshall came second (11:53:14) and Sweden’s Mimmi Kotka was third (11:57:02).
German Janosch Kowalczyk, who has only started doing “big” races in the past two years, was thrilled and surprised at his win: “I did not plan to be on the podium, I dreamt of being in the top ten.
“I started at 15th position, and when the sun came up I started to catch people at about 20km. By 30-40km I was low, I was super-tired, and I could not really run fast because it was so technical, you can’t see the trail, there are bushes and there are stones.”
Kowalczyk took his time at Llandudno to take in liquids and nutrition, and he then overtook Ryan Sandes on Suther Peak after Llandudno, just before Sandes withdrew.
“The crowd kept telling me I was fast and I was closing the gap on the leaders, and I started believing it. This is the perfect ending of the year for me. ”
Elov Olsson said of his race: “I ran by feel the whole day. I started with relaxed running, and tried to keep it that way the whole day. I struggled in the technical parts, but managed to get into a really good stride from the 60km mark until the finish.”
Defending champion Prodigal Khumalo was forced to withdraw at Constantia Nek at the 36,5km mark: “I have been battling with plantar fasciitis for the last 3 months. I was feeling better these last four weeks and I came to the race taking a chance. I was hoping to come and take it for the third time, but it’s one of those things, I will be back next year,” he said.
Ryan Sandes said of his withdrawal just after halfway: “After coming second to Prodigal last year I really wanted to try and go one better this year, and with Ultra-trail Cape Town attracting such a world class fields of athletes, you’ve got to go out there and take risks and chances, and I rolled the dice today and it didn’t go my way.
“Going up Suther Peak I was out of it, I was dizzy and dehydrated, and had to sit down, and lie down. I got some outside assistance, which unfortunately meant the end of my race.”
First placed woman Emily Hawgood said: “This is the longest distance, I really felt the last 7kms, and it was really hot. I did a couple of really hot runs in Kariba last week which saved me with the heat, so I was ready for it.
“I pushed hard to pass Mimmi at Alphen Trail, and then knew I had to push harder, because this final section last year nearly killed me in the 65km.”
Kerry-Ann Marshall has come back to competition after an injury and then having a child. She said “I am feeling very grateful to finish, and tired, and sore. It was an amazing race. I went into this race without doing a lot of racing this year, just training. I had no idea how I would perform, so it was good to see that the training all worked out.”
At UCT they told me I was 2 minutes behind Mimmi and 12 minutes behind Emily, so I thought I should just push. It helped so much that I knew the route, I knew the climb and the contour, so I knew where to push hard. I caught Mimmi coming off the mountain, and was able to pass her.”
Mimmi Kotka said she pushed hard in the first part of the race because she knew she would struggle with the heat later in the day: “I loved this course, but I knew that my odds were not good with the heat. We had -14 degrees Celcius when I left Sweden. So I tried to push early in order to get a decent result. I am very happy, and I think to have three girls in the top ten overall is really special. This is such a cool race. Its technical, and hot.”
1 – J. Kowalczyk 10:22:00
2 – E. Olsson 10:41:49
3 – J. Lantz 10:46:24
4 – C. Greyling 11:22:30
5 – R. Forbes 11:30:53
1 – E. Hawgood 11:49:25
2 – K. Marshall 11:53:14
3 – M. Kotka 11:57:02
4 – K. Wolf 12:43:03
5 – K. Henninger 13:08:35