Records crashed on the extreme, technical skyrunning trails of the Marloth Mountain Challenge (MMC) held in Swellendam on 24 September, with top runners Bernard Rukadza and AJ Calitz jointly breaking the 55km record by 11:57, setting a new record of 7:05:41. Calitz commented: “Magnificent, gruelling, but stunningly beautiful, and running with my brother Bernie was great.”
In near perfect weather, Katya Soggot also broke her own record for the 35km (previously leg 2 &3) by 29:25, to set new record set at 4:17:40. Timothy Chambers broke the leg 1 (24.5km) record by 8:37, with a new record of 2:48:47, and Annamart Laubscher broke the leg 1 ladies record (24.5km) by 33:11, setting a new record of 3:05:07.
As the grand finale of the Mountain Challenge Series which is organized by Wildrunner, the Ultra, Extreme and Lite options of the Marloth Mountain Challenge saw participants, deal with a relentless series of brutal climbs and technical descents.
“This is very essence of ultra skyrunning, testing runners not only on their endurance, strength and stamina. It offers an adventurous blend of unrelenting technical trail, huge climbs and descents, and it feels very remote out there,” commented race organizer Owen Middleton.
“The field was particularly strong this year and it was a thrill to see the records falling as the runners came into the finish.”
The Marloth Mountain Challenge offers runners the rare opportunity to run along the route of the historical six-day Swellendam Hiking Trail, which is usually closed to the public.
“The Mountain Challenge Series attracts hardcore trail runners, with its three challenging, technical races held in the Jonkershoek, Helderberg and Swellendam Mountains of the Western Cape,” says Middleton.
“The MMC is the culmination of the series - a one-of-a-kind type of race; it’s tough and has massive climbs, but the beautiful wilderness mountains and spectacular views is something that very few people get to see and experience.”
Middleton says that the 55km race is an ultra skymarathon® - an extreme event (3 494m of ascent
and 3 494m of descent) for hardcore mountain runners, which is also a qualifying race for the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc®. Runners also have the option of doing the 35km extreme (joining onto legs 2 and 3 of the 55km) or the 24,5km lite (following the first leg 1 of the 55km).
Jenny Janisch who won the Ladies 55km Ultra in 10:06:01, described the Marloth Mountain Challenge as, “The longest, hardest but the most rewarding run that I have ever done.”
55km participant Linda Doke, who finished the Ultra in 10:47:09 commented: “What a fantastic race the MMC is! It’s damn tough alright with 3469m of vertical over 55km – of course it’s an Ultra Skymarathon - the only one in South Africa.”
The Mountain Challenge Series results, for the Ultra runners participating in the 38km Jonkershoek Mountain Challenge, 24km Helderberg Mountain Challenge and the 55km Marloth Mountain Challenge, saw Bernard Rukadza taking the Men’s and Overall MCS Ultra title and Jontelle Linnegar winning the Ladies Series.