“It was a true mountain experience,” said Ryno Griesel who recently set a new record for the Drakensberg Grand Traverse with Ryan Sandes and who has been racing at Moolmanshoek since 2002. summing up what everyone – from the racing snakes to those in the sweeper bunch – experienced out there. “Just great for everybody, you got to experience in a safe environment how quickly the mountain changes.” “It was super beautiful up there,” he said. “With the mist and the rain… but it was bitterly cold with the wind chill. The importance of compulsory gear, even if it’s a local mountain and the weather looks good, can never be underestimated.”
FIRST-TIMERS PUSHING BOUNDARIES
The true ‘mountain challenge’ was going on behind the front runners though, with nearly 50 percent of the 280 starters being first timers. One of Pure Adventures’ goals is to welcome newcomers to the world of mountain running and this philosophy translates into the event. “I think the generous cut-off of nine hours is a big attraction,” commented race logistical manager, Michael de Haast from Pure Adventures. “Along with the general vibe of the weekend and of course the spectacular route,” De Haast said.
LOCAL FARMER DEFENDS HIS TITLE
Defending champion Sampie Makoakoe, a farm labourer at Moolmanshoek and compatriot Chabedi Nyedimane made their move on the descent from the first pyramid and down the back of Jacobsberg. The weather had taken a turn for the worse by the time Makoakoe and Nyedimane reached checkpoint two with driving ice rain and strong winds dropping the temperature to well below zero and making navigation exceptionally tough due to the low visibility. The severe conditions however, suited the local runners who regularly train on the route. Nyedimane and Makoakoe ran together all the way to the base of Sekonyela’s Hat (the final ‘peak’ of the 4Peaks), chased by a group of around six runners, some three minutes back. Makoakoe charged up the steep Sekonyela’s climb, running in places where Nyedimane had to scramble and walk. He built up a ten-minute lead this way and would hold on to it all the way to finish, completing his successful title defence in a time of 02:45:31. His time is was some three minutes shy of the record set by Ryan Sandes.
“The Woodstock of trail running,” is how Adrian Saffy from Pure Adventures describes what went down over the weekend of 9 August. “Athletes camping out for the long weekend, good food – the event has a great vibe and the whole family is exposed to the wonders of the outdoors,” Saffey said.
THE PYRAMID CHALLENGE
Sunday morning saw the running of the Runtastic Pyramid Challenge, a time-trial style event to the peak of the first pyramid. Athletes started in reverse order, seeded from their finishing time from the 4 Peaks the previous day. The weather, of course, had cleared, making for beautiful conditions. Chabedi Nyedimane took the win in a time of 21-minutes for the up-and-down route, using his knowledge and technical skills to overcome the blustery conditions on the way up and then descend at pace. The performance earned him the top Challenge Medal (a special medal all runners who completed both races received) and big chunk of the R10 000 total purse on offer for the secondary event.