On Saturday 20th of May 2017 Cape Town’s trail running community made their way to the Jonkershoek Valley in Stellenbosch, as it was finally D-Day for the Jonkershoek Mountain Challenge 2017.
With winter being just around the corner, and the valley being a bit closer to winter than the rest of the city, we were off to a crispy start. Participants started arriving from 5am for number collection and kit check, and were welcomed by the lit up Bedouin tent and the chilly 8-degree morning air.
In no time, like moths to flame, little groups started forming around the heaters. With a mixture of nervous laughter and genuine excitement in the air. For some this was their first ever mountain challenge run and for the runners returning, they knew they were in for one tough but absolute treat of a day.
We couldn’t have asked for better running conditions, as the Cape handed out the best it had to offer. Although the sun came out in all it’s glory, it stayed nicely tucked away behind the Hottentots Holland mountains for the bulk of the morning.
Racing kicked off with the big dog, the JMC 38km, at 7:15. With the likes of Kane Reilly, Andrew Hagen, Edson Kumwamba, Dylan Solms, Carla Van Huyssteen, Dunya Ansems, Derrick Baard all lining up to take on the challenge. Some serious racing was set to go down in this A-Batch.
Kane Reilly was the first runner to reach the top of Kurktrekker Nek, RCP 1 (19km) in 1hr18min, setting the pace for this brutal climb just over 4min/km, WOW! 7min behind him was Edson Kumwamba and hot on the chase was Andrew Hagen. Carla Van Huyssteen was the first female to reach RCP1, setting a solid 14min gap between her and the next female, Dunya Ansems.
By the time the front runners reached Bergriviernek, RCP2, not much had changed, other than Edson putting another minute on Andrew Hagen. But by the Langrivierkloof, ACP3, Andrew had managed to gain back that minute on Edson, and started closing in on him. Carla was in her element out there and showed no signs of slowing down. By the time she had ACP3 she had put an additional 4min on her lead, putting her a good 18min ahead of Dunya.
In the end Kane Reilly, arguably one of our countries top mountain runners, in his element, proved untouchable in this men’s race. He beat second place with a 16min lead and missed out on the course record by only 1min. He almost had to miss the race due to cold but ended up beating more than just the cold. Andrew Hagen hammered down after ACP3 to to overtake Edson and claim 2nd place, Edson ran a phenomenal race and made Andrew work for his position, but had to settle for 3rd place.
Carla van Huyssteen came flying across the line in first place for ladies race, breaking the ladies record by 17 seconds in a time of 04:11:09. Dunya Ansems took 2nd place in the ladies race, and finishing off the podium for the ladies was Julie Huckle, an up and coming Veteran runner who won her category in the most recent Spur Trail Series®.
In the 24km men’s race, Timothy Chambers was in his element. A nice big climb to start and then some serious technical downhill to play on all the way home. Basically what he does for fun on a daily basis.
Last year Timothy Chambers and Raydon Balie shared 1st place on the podium due to course tampering on route. This year Timothy set the record straight by showing that he truly is the king of this 24km course by not only winning it, but also obliterating the course record by 3min 1sec in a time of 1:52:04. Raydon Balie sat 2min behind Timothy,but eventually had to retire due to an injury. Coming in 5min behind Timothy, to claim 2nd place was Jonothan Black and wrapping up the men’s podium was Rupert Becker in a time of 2:10:08.
In the ladies race, Elite Athlete, Annamart Laubscher came to reclaim her title. She came, she ran, and she conquered. Winning the ladies race in a time of 02:17:51, missing out on her own course record by only a minute. The battle for 2nd and 3rd out on course was between Marnia Wesels and Colleen De Oliveira, a good 15min behind Annamart. In the Marnia came out on top to take 2nd place in a time 02:32:49, and Colleen finished a minute after her to take 3rd place.
Not to be out done by the big guns, Michael Lord made some noise of his own in the 11km JMC Run. Micheal’s been making noise on the short course trail and triathlon scene for quite some time now. He set out at a ridiculous pace from the get go. Taking the win for the day and smashing the course record in a time of 42:39. Taking second place on the day, was one of the local community’s runners, Malibingene Mcosana, in a time of 43:48. (Also beating the original course record) Finishing off 3rd, shortly behind 2nd was Damian Will in a time of 44:16.
Uta Lehmann came running across the finish line at a blistering pace to take the win for the ladies race in a time of 51:15. Hot on her heels was Katie Leslie, and finishing off the overall ladies podium for the day in the 11km was Lara Rossouw.
A truly stunning morning of racing, running and finish line festivities. Our Elites and Top Athletes brought their A-game to put on an epic show of racing. The rest of the runners had nothing but curse words and smiles for the absolute blast they had out on course.
And to make up for any damage that the mountain did to them, they got to enjoy an Ice-Cold beer at the Boston Breweries stall, quickly returning their energy and getting them excited to sign up for next year.
A big shout out and thank you to all race sponsors and partners, BOS-Sport, Raidlight, Steenberg, Boston Breweries, WWF Run for nature.
And mostly a big thank you to all of you who came out and enjoyed this year’s Jonkershoek Mountain Challenge.
See you again next year.