Local trail runners set for ultimate test
After months of preparation local trail running enthusiasts are set to put their best foot forward when they tackle the gruelling Ultra Trail Cape Town (UTCT) in the mountains in an around the Mother City this weekend.
This iconic event has attracted participants from all corners of the globe with four trail races over distances of 100km, 65km and 35km on Saturday. This year there is also an option of a 21km that will take place on Sunday.
The various secnic routes traverse sections of Table Mountain, Lion’s Head, Signal Hill, Orangekloof, Llandudno, Hout Bay, the Constantia Winelands, upper slopes of Kirstenbosch Nature Reserve and Devil’s Peak.
All four races consist of technical terrain with steep ascents and descents. Weather can vary drastically with near sub-zero temperatures in the early morning on top of Table Mountain to 30 degrees plus during the latter part of the day.
The the degree of difficulty and strenous nature of the event did not deter Nazli Gasant – one of many local athletes who tackled the 35km last year – to come back to attempt the 65km this year.
Gasant, a teacher from Crawford in Athlone, is an accomplished long distance road runner. Besides having completed many local marathons and half marathons, she has also successfully completed the Two Oceans Ultra Marathon in 2016 and 2017. In both instances she covered 56km in just over 6 hours on the road.
However, this was not enough of a challenge for her. She enjoys hiking as well as running and decided to combine the two disciplines by tackling the UTCT 35km over particulary trecherous terrain last year. (The organisers rated the degree of difficulty of the shorter route with a 9.5/10).
“I hiked this route a fews time as a youngster and decided to enter the 35km trail. I found it to be an absolutely awesome experience and I enjoyed every minute of it.
“The difference between running on the road and doing trail runs is that there is less pressure. On the road I feel the urge to run fast most of the time, but when I’m out on the trails in nature, I feel at ease and relaxed.
“Last year the 35km took me 7 hours and 20 minutes to complete. It was the longest I have ever been on my legs in a single event, but I felt very comfortable.”
Nazli has now decided to go one better this year by going further and longer than she has ever gone before.
“My preparation has gone well. I have trained three months for this and so far everything has gone according to plan. I am really excited and look forward to the challenge of tackling the 65km.” she says confidently.
The Start and Finish of all the races are at Gardens Tech Rugby Club: Montreal Ave, Oranjezicht
100km starts at 04:00
65km starts at 05:00
35km at 07:00