11 years in, and the magic just keeps building. Every year a combination of familiar faces and brand new recruits arrive at the Trail Series® venues, each with their own objectives. Some come to test their legs at their very first trail race, others come to enjoy the social aspect of a short of medium distance trail with friends. The fast pack get out there to kick up the dust, and every year a few new trail stars are born.
With Race 1 and 2 already in the bag, the 2018 Cape Winter Trail Series® has been no different. On Sunday 22 July a capacity crowd streamed in to Paul Cluver for either the 15.5km long course, or the 8.6km short course. With some exciting route changes since 2017, both distances proved a balanced combination of challenge, reward and fun.
Over hot pancakes and breakfast burgers, the post-race stories emerged. Who is Cana Peek? The young Stellenbosch student who was first spotted winning the JMC 24km earlier this year, took top spot on the long course and has reportedly won every trail race she has entered between the two events. Ryan Ball, in the junior category, cruised ever so easily to victory in the short course. Both Cana and Ryan are runners to watch. The Mini Mees and Pee Wees chatted and laughed over cups of Pepsi before prize giving; far cry from the fierce competition they throw down on the short course. The youngsters marvelled at the Grand Masters.
The amphitheatre was packed for prize giving. Raidlight gear, Steenberg Wine and the highly coveted Jaybird Bluetooth earphones in the lucky draw mix. You don’t have to be a podium runner to leave feeling triumphant. “See you next week!” as cars streamed out, taking sweaty, satisfied runners and their crew home. Not a sniff of the Monday blues about.
On Sunday 29 July a similar crew climbed the grassy bank to line up for Race 2, at Tygerberg Nature Reserve. This hidden gem of a space is not widely known to many, and it holds plenty of well-kept secrets. As the sun rose, the full moon hung low and heavy next to Table Mountain on the horizon. Runners peeled off their layers, sipped hot coffee and prepared to do battle. And a battle it was, with a tougher course than Race 1, and far, far more climbing on the menu, but no less fun.
The fast pack had to fight a little harder for their positions, but Cana Peek did not disappoint her new fan club, coming in second overall in the long course, and first woman. Marion Leiberich was hot on her heels, only a minute separating the two woman who were 2nd and 3rd across the line, behind Emmanual Dlamini. Ryan Ball also had to fight for first spot in the short course, with fellow junior runner Stephen Millard only 31 seconds behind him. Some cat and mouse racing up on the trails of Tygerberg.
(Above) Cana Peek
(Above) Ryan Ball
A festive atmosphere above the finish chute rounded out another day of winter trail magic. Good food, great tunes and endless laughter as the crowd hung around to bring the very last runners over the line.
Next up is the Taal Monument on Sunday 5 August. Race 3, and the fastest course of the lot.