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Sport - Date: 06 February 2020
Written by: Anton van Zyl / Viewed: 1867
On Saturday, the 30th annual Soutpansberg Mountain Race will take place. This race has in the past lured some of the country’s top athletes and could be described as one of the first “trial running” events in the country.
Unlike the “normal” marathon and half-marathon events, the race does not follow the tarred roads. Instead athletes, have to navigate their way up the steep dirt roads of the Soutpansberg mountain.
The main race, stretching over 32 gruelling kilometres, takes runners on an ascent of 500 metres to a turning point just below the picturesque Hanglip cliff. In February, rain is not uncommon in the Soutpansberg, which means that the route can easily turn into a slippery and treacherous experience.
Trial races are growing in popularity, not only in South Africa but also the rest of the world. Such routes give runners the opportunity to not only test their strength and endurance, but also to appreciate the beauty and diversity of the environment.
The first Soutpansberg Mountain Race was sponsored and organised by the then Louis Trichardt municipality in 1991 and started and ended at the local rugby grounds. The following year, the Soutpansberg Athletics Club took over the race and has been presenting it ever since.
Saturday’s Mountain Race has a double significance. It coincides with the first “birthday” of the Louis Trichardt Parkrun event. The Parkrun participants will start alongside the Mountain Race entrants, albeit that the routes are different. Whereas the Parkrun participants only complete five kilometres, the Mountain Race athletes can choose between a 10-, 21- and 32-kilometre route.
The races all start at 07:00 the Info Kiosk, next to the N1. The entrance is in Songozwi Street. Athletes can enter at the venue, prior to the start of the race.
Three water points will be available along the route and the organisers said that people who wanted to walk along the route were most welcome. All athletes who finish the races will receive medals. The winners in the different races and categories will receive prize money.
The entry fee for the 10km race is R50, for the half-marathon (21,1km) it is R80 and for the 32km race it is R120. An Athletics SA license is required for all participants in the 10km or longer races, but temporary licences are available at R30 per athlete.
10km - F Mudzanani 33:05 (2013)
21km - Lutendo Mapoto 1:16:51 (2014)
32km - Timothy Munzhelele 1:48:04 (2016)
10km - Ntshaveni Marubine 37:40 (2013)
21km - Jane Mudau 1:33 (2014)
32km - Jane Mudau 2:30:49 (2016)
Throughout the years, the Soutpansberg Mountain Race has lured some of the country's top athletes. In 2013, the half-marathon was won by Ludwick Mamabolo in a time of 1:19:20. Ludwick won the Comrades Marathon the year before. Behind Ludwick are the second- and third-place winners, Rufus Photo (1:19.23) and Takalani Nkuhumeleni (1:20.17).
Anton van Zyl has been with the Zoutpansberger and Limpopo Mirror since 1990. He graduated from the Rand Afrikaans University (now University of Johannesburg) and obtained a BA Communications degree. He is a founder member of the Association of Independent Publishers.