MOUNTAIN RUNNING AT ITS BEST
Soaring Eagle Mountain Run was another one for the books. Athletes came from all over to come enjoy a weekend in the mountains and see places that only the Eagles can reach. The race was held once again at AfriSki Resort. This resort operates 365 days a year and even with it being spring – the organisers had the opportunity to wake up to snow the Friday morning prior to the event.
The Soaring Eagle 2 Day Mountain Run was unlike most other, as athletes ran with preprogrammed navigational systems to ensure that they stay on the planned route. Various manned check points were located on route to keep track of their progress. A number of locals with intimate knowledge of the mountains and valleys were employed as Marshals. The Facebook page (TriSport) and TrisportSA Twitter was continually updated with the progress of the athletes where photos were posted daily.
The athletes experienced a sense of total freedom in the mountains. Whilst running on the cattle tracks, they came across local herdsman, sheep, goats, donkeys, cattle and the occasional groups of wild horses. The predominant sounds are those of bells – hanging around the necks of some sheep. Every now and then, runners saw the majestic Eagles, soaring high above them.
Friday, saw athletes arrive during the afternoon and being welcomed open armed by resort and TriSport staff. The evening kicked off with a scrumptious dinner and was followed by race briefing for the next day. Some nervous faces as conditions were predicted to be frosty the next morning.
As Saturday arrived, the weather predictions had changed and brought some sunlight to the mountains. At 7am runners set out for what promised to be a spectacular day. The race starts off with a climb out the ski slope after which it drops into the valleys and runs the course all along the river. On day 1 runners meet the half way mark at the escarpment which is a 1km drop down to the South African border. Most of the athletes took their time here taking in the breath-taking views that stretched out in front of them. The leading men had a few changes in the first 10kms of the race, with Wynand Appelgryn leading out the ski slope, followed by Geoffrey Lee and Stephanus Delport. In the ladies race Donnee Standeaven was dominating the field and smiling all the way while doing so. Day 1 was won by Geoffrey, followed by Stephanus and in 3rd Wynand. After a long day out on the trails athletes were just to happy to put their feet up and watch some rugby before dinner.
Sunday morning arrived with great conditions again. The 16km trail that was set out for day 2 has a bit more of technical side to it. There was also the option for a short course after the waterpoint, which none chose to do. Geoffrey Lee was once again in the lead and held his lead for the remainder of the day, hardly stopping at the waterpoint for refreshments. The 2nd male was once Stephanus to cross the line, followed shortly after by Lesley Atwell and Wynand Appelgryn. Wynand’s lead on day 1 secured him 3rd position. Donnee Standeaven won the ladies overall.
All athletes enjoyed the weekend out on the mountains – saying that they would diarise this for next year. War stories was exchanged in the evenings and during lunches as athletes are excited at the prospects of running at altitude. This event gives the average athletes the chance to experience the mountains.
Hano and Sonja Otto of TriSport are very excited about the future of this race as it has a lot of potential for growth and expansion. For more information, results and photos go to www.trisport.co.za and/or www.facebook.com/trisportsa.