It is the day before the highly anticipated Ultra-Trail Cape Town 2017, and the stage is set for an incredible race. With over 50 countries represented across the three distances (100km, 65km and 35km) as well as official inclusion on the Ultra-Trail World Tour, the guys at UTCT have truly brought the world’s trail running focus to South Africa.
If you follow any of the big names in trail on Instagram, you’ll probably be sitting back with a slightly smug smile round about now. They are literally gushing about this place that we call home; some might never leave!
@lucy_bartholomew has a staggering 34 200 Instagram followers. She hails from Australia and is here to race at the competitive end of the 100km. Lucy has had a massive year so far. 1st at Ultra-Trail Australia, 2nd at Marathon du Mont Blanc 80k 2017, and 5th at UTMB TDS. At just 21 years of age, she defies the norm. It began when she was 16, and raced 100km with her father. Shortly after arrival in sunny SA, she posted from the trails of Jonkershoek, “Just a little bit of love for this place already. South Africa, can I call you home?” Sure thing, Lucy!
We’re also keeping a close eye on popular elite runner, Dylan Bowman, here from the US and in top form for the 100km. This year he finished 7th in a stacked field at UTMB and has other has other big race belt notches such as 3rd at Western States in 2014, 1st at Ultra-Trail Australia 2015 and 1st at Tarawera 2015 to his name. On Instagram he is @dylanbo and his mate, our local star Ryan Sandes, has been trying to get him here for some years now. One of his first posts after arriving in SA was, “As the locals would say, “kiff” morning in Cape Town! Mini-spin on Table Mountain with my tour guide and crew, Lucas Adams.” He has the slang down, now let’s see how he throws down during the race. In the pre-race interview on Thursday night Dylan boldly stated that 2017 would be the year that the race sees a sub-10 hour win. Yeeeeew (more trail slang, it means MASSIVE)!
Ever heard of a trail runner from Switzerland called “Zpeedy?” Diego Pazos is another familiar name in ultra-running circles. Diego transitioned from football to trail running in 2011 after images of that year’s UTMB captured his imagination. He has since rocked 3rd at Trans Gran Canaria 2016, 1st at Marathon Du Mont Blanc in 2016, 4th at Grand Raid Réunion in 2015 and 6th at the 2016 IAU Trail World Championships. “Zpeedy” Pazos generally adds a signature bowtie and moustache to his trail gear, and he didn’t disappoint the crowd at the elite briefing on Thursday as he filmed himself, selfie style, walking on to the stage for his interview in a snappy outfit that included the classic bowtie. He has taken over the official @ultratrailworldtour Instagram feed for the duration of this event. The first official post included Zpeedy in a red bowtie with Lions Head in the background. “1st Day in wonderful Cape Town. Discovering this place! Amazing!” were his words.
Dani Jung was 2nd at the Hong Kong 100 this year, and took 1st place with a new record at the South Tyrol Ultraskyrace in 2016. He has trained for UTCT 2017 on the picturesque trails of in his home region in South Tyrol, around the peaks of the Dolomites, but was blown away by the Cederberg where he spent his first few days in South Africa. Via his Instagram feed, which is @dani.jung, we’ve seen him swimming in waterfalls and mucking about at Cape Point. He won’t be mucking about much on Saturday, though. Expect great things from Jung.
And what are our local stars saying about all the talent cruising around on our trails? Well, in keeping with our warm South African reputation, they are hosting the international crew with open arms and epic trail adventures. Meg Mackenzie has been super busy playing tour guide, and will crew for Lucy Bartholomew on Saturday. Follow Meg on @megmackenzie1 where she will no doubt be sharing update’s on the front runners. Meg says it has been really special showing the international speedsters our local trails, and it has reminded her how lucky we Capetonians are.
Catch Kane Reily at @kanereilly1. He also won’t be racing but has been out on plenty of leg-loosener trots with the visitors and says, “Sometimes, community trumps competition”.
Ryan Sandes, who may well be playing tour guide from the front on Saturday, had the following to say to the elites during Thursday night’s interviews, “Don’t worry about the weather conditions at the top, worry about the snakes…” Race tactics, hey, race tactics!
We can’t wait to see how all the stories unfold as this epic field of runners take on a route that showcases so much of the beauty of the Cape. Congrats from the Wildrunner team to the Ultra-Trail Cape Town team on achieving global recognition for your event in just four years. And to all our local runners, go show them what Saffer Vasbyt really is!
Follow the event live via:
@utct on Instagram
@UltratrailCT on Twitter
Words by Kim Walker
Teresa Nimes (Spain) and Lucy Bartholomew (Australia) hosted by local talent Hayley Preen and Meg Mackenzie
Dylan Bowman (US), Pau Bartolo (Spain), Dani Jung (Italy), Scotty Hawker (New Zealand), Theresa Nimes (Spain) and Lucy Bartholomew (Austrailia) hosted by Ryan Sandes, Hayley Preen, Meg Mackenzie, Kane Reilly and UTCT director, Stuart McConnachie