On the 23rd of September at 7am, 950 runners gathered in Bagà, Barcelona, to face the challenge of a long and intense race with a profile not unlike a sawtooth blade, including several significant peaks, the first being 14km into the race reaching 2500m in altitude. It’s called the Salomon Ultra Pirineu, and it’s 110km with close to 7km of climbing.
One of South Africa’s top trail runners, Christiaan Greyling (Jeep Team/Salomon/Garmin), tackled the Salomon Ultra Pirineu 2017, an ultra-endurance race through Cadí-Moixeró Natural Park in the Catalan Pyrenees which comprises 76% trail, 17% track and 7% asphalt, this race tests skill, strength and endurance, but most of all, mental boldness.
Spanish runners make up most of the participants, followed by the French and Portuguese. With more and more newcomers joining the race, this ninth edition attracted runners from over the 50 nationalities.
“The Ultra Pirineu has always attracted the best athletes in the world, including previous podium-finishers Kilian Jornet, Luis Alberto Hernando, Miguel Angel Heras, Zaid Malek, Anton Krupicka, Nuria Picas, Anna Frost, Emelie Forsberg and Mira Rai. I was privileged enough to be in the elite bunch with these athletes and to race against them on their home soil.” comments Greyling.
From the outset, the tough, rugged terrain along the Cavalls del Vent route required 100% effort and commitment. Only 63% of those who started the race would cross the finish line in Bagà.
Says Greyling, “’Venga Venga Kampion!’ were the first words I heard as I approached the first group of supporters just after sunrise on Ultra Pirineu. I felt like a champion and pushed harder up the 1900m climb to the 2nd checkpoint at Niu de l’Aliga. This was only 14km into the 110km race but it made me feel like a champion and made every step of this ultra journey worth it.”
Reaching the finish line at night, Greyling completed the ultra-trail in 14h06m24s, crossing the line in 12th place overall and 9th in his age category. The race was won by Spanish runner, Pablo Villa González, in a time of 12h30m19s; in second place was Dmitry Mityaev in 12h33m46s, and rounding off the top 3 was Frenchman Aurélien Dunand-pallaz with a time of 12h44m15s.
The women’s race was won by Maite Maiora Elizondo in a time of 14h22m19s, second place went to Núria Picas Albets, who finished in 14h41m45s, and in third place was Ekaterina Mityaeva in 15h41m17s.
Said Greyling after the race, “Wow, what an incredible experience; 113km with 6800m positive gain in 14 hours, finishing 12th overall in a very competitive field. By far the longest day of my life, but a humbling experience to be supported by thousands of people along the course. Spanish and Catalan people support with passion! Thousands of people, especially kids, emerged from small mountain villages across Catalunya to support the race. It is hard enough to run up a 1900m mountain for a race start, but to witness the authentic support in the middle of nowhere was a life changing experience.”
Results – 110km Ultra Pirineu
1. Pablo Villa González (ESP) 12:30:19
2. Dmitry Mityaev (KAZ) 12:33:46
3. Aurelien Dunand-Pallaz (FRA) 12:44:15
12. Christiaan Greyling (RSA) 14:06:24
1. Maite Maiora Elizondo (ESP) 14:22:19
2. Núria Picas Albets (ESP) 14:41:45
3. Ekaterina Mityaeva (RUS) 15:41:17
OTHER JEEP TEAM NEWS
Trail Running – Rhino Peak Challenge – Hank McGregor
On World Rhino Day, Friday 22 September, a group of 12 elite South African trail runners and 12 influential individuals from the world of sport, conservation and entertainment ascended the iconic Rhino Peak in the southern Drakensberg to raise funds for the Endangered Wildlife Trust.
Each runner had a profile on the event website where members of the public could pledge an amount for one or more of their chosen participants. The pledge is linked to the runner’s goal time by means of a multiplication factor – the minimum set at 10 and the maximum limited to 45.
Hank McGregor (Jeep Team/Euro Steel/Gara Racing Paddles) and his wife, Pippa, racing as Team McGregor, were set a goal time of 300 minutes (5 hours). With the couple finishing the challenge in 242 minutes, well below the goal time, their 31 pledges were multiplied by 45, raising a total of R9 585.
Triathlon – MiWay Cape Ultra Triathlon – Michael Lord
The MiWay Cape Ultra Triathlon took place at the Theewater Sports Club in the Cape Winelands, showcasing the Cape’s beautiful triathlon routes.
Jeep Team triathlete, Michael Lord, competed in the sprint race comprising of a 600m swim, 20km cycle and 5km run.
Lord started off strong, exiting the water with the top competitors and taking the lead in the cycle. Lord managed to open a 30 second lead to finish a strong race ahead of the second-placed Jamie Riddle.
Unfortunately, Lord dropped his goggles, which were thrown back to him by a spectator, ultimately leading to his disqualification.
“I ‘won’ the MiWay Cape Ultra Triathlon sprint race but was disqualified when a friend threw my swim cap and goggles back to me, which was considered outside assistance. Well done to the race officials for following the rules and doing the right thing, even when it’s unpleasant. Thank you to the organisers and race officials for doing a sterling job. This was my first road triathlon in ages, and I am definitely keen for more!” concludes Lord.