The defending champions claimed victory in the second Umhlanga MTN Summer Carnival’s 12km/18km Trail Run and Walk with Eric Ngubane and Mandy Matthews regaining their titles in the growing sport of trail running.
By Sophie Thompson
In the pic: Cato Ridge resident Eric Ngubane defended his title in the Umhlanga MTN Summer Carnival 12km/18km Trail Run and Walk. He is pictured here pacing towards the 8km mark with Sandile Lembathe on the left hand side and Peter Sehlope in the distance. 280 adventurous early risers took to the grueling course that had them striding through rivers, bush and along gravel roads.
Ngubane paced himself well, at the first water point he was tucked behind Sandile Lembathe as the duo charged through the 8km mark with only 43minutes on the clock. Peter Sehlope was a few paces off the front runners but had them safely in sight. As they turned around the corner after the water table, they were greeted with a mountainous climb for the next four kilometres.
“The toughest part for me was from the first table to Sibaya, we hard to work a lot harder around the ten kilometre mark, using a lot more mental strength.” stated a tired Ngubane. “I knew the route from having run this event a couple of times now but somehow the hills took a lot more out of me.”
Ngubane, a well recognised road runner, uses the sport of trail running to strengthen his body, “it is a thinking race, and constantly you are concentrating where to put your feet as the terrain changes all the time. We ran on tar roads, through sugarcane fields, the Hawaan Forest, gravel roads and the final killer 2km stretch on the beach. The changing environment just makes for a more exciting race.”
Ngubane took a narrow lead at the halfway mark and hung onto it for the remainder of the race. “The final river crossing was challenging, the depth was about chest high in places and I took the quicker refreshing option of swimming.”
“Running on the sand was extremely hard. The gap I had created widened a bit as Sandile battled wading through the river. I relished the sight of the finish line.”
Completing the 18km in a shattering 1.16.05, Ngubane had close to two minutes on the second place runner, Sandile Lembathe as he took a wrong turn in the forest but finished with a respectable time of 1.17.56. Sehlophe battled in the last 5kilometers but managed to cross the line in bronze position. Sehlophe and Lembathe both specialise in the shorter distances and were elated at their mornings efforts.
Local lass, Mandy Matthews lead from the start in the small field of brave women who elected to run the 18km. She was delighted with her race, “Wow, I just loved it, loved it, loved it! This is my second time running this event and everything was just perfect. I found the hills through the sugarcane to be challenging, and the soft beach sand to be extremely difficult but the beautiful scenery throughout was utterly rewarding. The section where you hugged the M4 and had 180degree views of Umhlanga and the ocean were just magnificent.
Matthews has been running off road for a few years now, escaping at every available opportunity with her husband, Marc, to attack the trails.
A field of 280 hardcore adventurous runners, almost double the amount that lined up at the previous year’s start, took to the gruelling course on a sweltering Sunday morning. Competitors had the choice of the 12km or 18km but both offered runners and walkers two river crossings and a variety of terrain.
Race Organiser, Buzz Bolton was delighted with the outcome, “We lengthened the route by an extra 2kilometers and have had great feedback from the guys as they came across some new interesting obstacles. I am overwhelmed with the response that we had, we wanted to cap the race at 250 people but were flooded with entries from around the country and accommodated as many as possible. This event is creating a name for itself in running circles as more and more people are falling in love with this kind of race.”
Marketing Manager of race sponsors, Salomon, Jackie Moore said, “Being able to get off the roads and onto the trails is awesome and certainly is stunning running through these parts of the north coast! The guys appreciated that the race wasn’t too technical and had a nice variety of terrain.”
Peter Rose, chairman of the Umhlanga Tourism raved about the event, “I can’t think of a better setting for this kind of event. We have so much to offer runners with a variety of terrain that they can traverse and experience.”
The next race will be held over Easter on Monday 9 April, for more details on entering contact Buzz Bolton on email@example.com
Men’s 18km: 1 Eric Ngubane (1.16.05), 2 Sandile Lembathe (1.17.56), 3 Peter Sehlope (1.20.09)
Women’s 18km: 1 Mandy Matthews (1.54.05), 2 Mandy Walters (1.56.20), 3 Jetaime Ribbink (1.56.45)
Men’s 12km: 1 Carlos Hartman (1.09.33), 2 Billy White (1.10.21), 3 Dean Marais (1.10.52)
Women’s 12km: 1 Karen Bahrens (1.11.25), 2 Michelle Morten (1.11.43), 3 Lisa Stewart (1.12.16)