The weekend of 24-27 May saw some of the toughest trail running ever when the area around Pilgrim’s Rest, Graskop and Sabie was host to the Mac Mac Ultra trail running event. There were three races – a 100 miler, a 50 miler and a 46 km marathon.
The courses covered hills and valleys, cliffs and river crossings, providing runners with some of the most beautiful scenery in the area. The most challenging was probably the section in the 100 miler aptly named the “towerbos” – a rain forest with slippery slopes, sharp stones, and rickety bridges. And many of the competitors faced this in the dark during their second night of running.
Competitors had to meet strict qualifying criteria to enter. Evidence that they were seasoned runners was the fact that 20 of the 31 entrants in the 100 miler were over 40 years of age.
These runners had 46 hours complete the course. The winner was 31-year-old Ruan van der Merwe who finished in a time of 23:54. The women’s category was won by 40-year old Nicky Booyens who finished in a time of 28:05, placing her in the sixth place overall.
The 29 competitors in the 50-miler had to complete the course within 22 hours and Matthew Healy won in an excellent time of 08:47. Suzette van Broemsen won the ladies category in a time of 11:18.
The 46Km trail run took place during the day on Saturday, May 26, with 127 entrants. Jock Green won in a time of 05:28. Anouk Baars, the winner of the ladies category, was not far behind with a time of 05.55.
Eloff Hoffman, the event organiser, described the first Mac Mac Ultra as a great success – far exceeding their expectations. “We really appreciated the wonderful community involvement,” said Hoffman. “We want to thank everyone from the sponsors to the property owners who allowed access, and the local groups who provided support and refreshments at the different watering points.” The date for the next event has been set for May 22 -24, 2020. Entries will open soon on www.macmacultra.com.