Ettiene Plaatjies and Danika Gerber ended their 2015 racing year on a high note when they won the men and women’s titles convincingly at the inaugural Attakwas Extreme Trail Run, which ended in Mossel Bay.
Plaatjies, a former international 800-metre athlete, clocked a time of 2hr 14min 32sec for the 29-kilometre point-to-point race from Paardebont, near Oudtshoorn, to Bonniedale Holiday Farm, Mosselbay. He was almost 12 minutes ahead of runner-up Anderson Ncube, with Pieter Henning rounding out the podium a further five minutes adrift.
In the women’s race Gerber’s winning time of 3:02:01 was over eight minutes quicker than Marlize Vienings, with Lodelia Odendaal claiming the final podium place another four minutes back.
It was the first time a trail running race had been held through the Attakwas Reserve, an inhospitable, rugged wilderness pass that links the Karoo with the coast through the Outeniqua mountains. But it most certainly won’t be the last, if the opinion of over 250 participants is anything to go by.
‘The first part, with a steady climb was quite easy for me, but the last bit, with a lot of downs and short ups and rough sections was challenging. I stopped at all three water points and I walked up the last two climbs, just to regain my composure. It was awesome to have river crossings and tough climbs and such amazing scenery,’ said overall winner, Plaatjies.
‘It was a great privilege to run the first Attakwas trail run. The route is really, really nice and I’ve got new respect for the mountain bikers that do this each January on their bikes. It’s very challenging, but doable. There’s a nice mix of jeep track and singletrack, river-crossings and mountain climbs. It’s a really awesome race,’ said Mauritz Janse van Rensburg, fourth placed finisher and veteran men’s winner.
‘This was a great experience and beautiful landscape. I’m from Switzerland, where we have very steep trails, different to the Attakwas route, which is quite technical. At 29 kilometres, it’s long enough to be a challenge, but not too long and still enjoyable,’ smiled Karin Werer, who finished in 4:07.
While the majority of the entrants tackled the Attakwas Extreme, there was also an Attakwas Mini race, which was a circular, tough 7.5km route that incorporated the final 5km of the Extreme route, including the challenging Grootkloof descent.
‘I was a great route, especially this last piece through the Grootkloof. There were some very stiff climbs too in the early part, but it was exceptionally rewarding,’ said Dewald Kapp, winner of the men’s division in the Attakwas Mini in 47:39.
‘It was an amazing route and very well marked. Such incredible scenery!’ remarked women’s Mini Attakwas winner, Michelle de Villiers, who clocked a time of 1:05.
‘After getting mountain bikers to tackle the Attakwas Reserve for more than a decade, we felt the time was right to offer a trail run event through the same section. Yes, it’s a tough trail, but that’s what makes it more rewarding. We didn’t make it too long because we wanted it to be achieveable for most fit runners, looking for a fresh quest,’ said Bernard le Roux of Dryland Event Management.
‘We’re very pleased with how the first edition went. Holding the Attakwas Extreme in December allows many runners on holiday in the area an opportunity to participate in what we expect will become a ‘must-do’ race on the trail-running calendar,’ added Le Roux.
29km Extreme Trail
1 Ettiene Plaatjies 02hrs 14min 32sec
2 Anderson Ncube 2:26:29
3 Pieter Henning 2:31:50
4 Mauritz Janse van Rensburg 2:33:01
5 Martin Jooste 2:50:50
6 Henri Meyer 2:50:51
7 Frans Grotepass 2:59:46
8 Stewart Mackay 3:00:32
9 Rudolf van Rensburg 3:03:25
10 Andre du Preez 3:04:43
1 Danika Gerber 3:02:01
2 Marlize Vienings 3:10:29
3 Lodelia Odendaal 3:15:19
4 Helena Bester 3:24:41
5 Anneke Barnard 3:25:58
6 Janet Woodhead 3:29:12
7 Melanie Roux 3:29:16
8 Bianca Grotepass 3:36:58
9 Janie van Rensburg 3:41:17
10 Elize Kloppers 3:41:33
7.5km Attakwas Mini
1 Dewald Kapp 47min39sec
2 Jorrie Jordan 49:23
3 Craig Davey 51:36
1 Michelle de Villiers 1:05:24
2 Magdaleen de Swardt 1:08:50
3 Jomari Smit 1:09:34