Two of South Africa’s top Ultra-Trail athletes, Christiaan Greyling (Jeep Team/Salomon/Garmin) and Robyn Owen (Jeep Team/Best4Sports) competed in the special Merrell Whale of Trail Challenge in De Hoop Nature Reserve on the Southern Cape coast, and didn’t disappoint.
The iconic Whale Trail hiking route is offered as a challenge to trail runners capable of completing the five-day, 53km trail in a single day.
Between the 123 competitor-start and the finish at Koppie Alleen awaited a tough and technical race of rocky ridges, varied single-track, fast downhills, coastal paths and sandy beaches.
In the men’s race, Greyling crossed the finish line in 05:06:37, just under 17 minutes behind race winner and tough-to-beat, Rory Scheffer, who finished in 04:49:46. Third place went to AJ Calitz in a time of 05:07:42. All three runners broke the existing record of 05:39.00.
Says Greyling, “A great run in De Hoop at the Merrell Whale of Trail. What an awesome event! It exceeded expectations in all aspects – the best display of whale acrobatics along a lekker route. Hats off to Rory Scheffer who had a world-class run to claim 1st position! I spent time running with AJ Calitz and was so happy to share the podium with him.”
In the women’s race, Owen claimed a 3rd place finish in 06:10:29. The race was won by the young Ultra-Trail Champion, Nicolette Griffioen, in a record-time of 05:37:51, breaking the record by 30 minutes along with 2nd placed Landie Greyling in 05:41:43 who also completed the race within the record time. The previous women’s record was 06h08.
Says Owen, “The last 20km hurt! The tough competition pushed me to run hard and the finish-line feeling was real! I finished 3rd female, a good way behind Nicolette and Landie, and just ahead of Marie-Zanne de Kock. The beautiful, varied route gave a quick overview of a vast natural area that begs to be explored more thoroughly – the sunrise on a hilltop with vultures soaring past just out of arms reach and front row seats for the whale acrobatics.
Thanks Mountain Runner Events for a 5-star experience! Excellent food and wine, handwritten notes, and all-round VIP treatment for the runners, all weekend.”
Results – Merrell Whale of Trail
- Rory Scheffer 04:49:46
- Christiaan Greyling 05:06:37
- AJ Calitz 05:07:72
- Nicolette Griffioen 05:37:51
- Landie Greyling 05:41:43
- Robyn Owen 06:10:29
OTHER JEEP TEAM NEWS
OCR – BattleRush Winter Charge
This past weekend, the Jozi X Adventure Centre in Bryanston played host to the BattleRush Winter Charge. The purpose-built course features 30 obstacles, including wall climbs, spear throwing, rope and net climbs, ninja rings, and a Hercules hoist.
Jeep Team’s OCR athletes, Thomas van Tonder and Jay Jay Deysel, both took part in the 10km / 30 obstacle race, finishing 2nd and 3rd respectively.
Says van Tonder on the day’s race, “Always an epic race out at BattleRush, with lots of the obstacles designed like those found at international races and at OCR World Championships. Bradley Claase and I pushed each other all the way. We got to the last rig near to each other, and both fell because we were over-eager, and afraid to lose time, we did not dry our hands properly, making the scaffolding pipes very slippery. I finished 2nd, and my team mate, Jay Jay, took 3rd place, making it two podium finishes for Jeep Team SA. Thank you to Marco Caromba and the BattleRush team for a top-class event.”
Results – 10km BattleRush Winter Charge 2017
- Bradley Claase 00:49:47
- Thomas van Tonder 00:51:58
- Jay Jay Deysel 00:52:17
- Carina Marx 01:08:54
- Michelle Meyer 01:12:02
- Samantha Gilchrist 01:12:46