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Four of the 10 athletes from the Soutpansberg Athletics Club who participated in the most beautiful marathon in the world, the Two Oceans Ultra Marathon. From left to right are Casper McDonald, Karla van Zyl, Bigboy Nefale and (inset) Jennavieve Truter. Photos supplied.

Soutpansberg athletes conquer Two Oceans Ultra Martahon

Date: 25 April 2024 By: Karla van Zyl

The Soutpansberg Athletics Club had 10 members take on the gruelling Two Oceans Ultra Marathon in Cape Town on 13 April this year. For some of the first-timers, this was a sobering eye-opener, especially for those preparing for this year’s Comrades Marathon in June.

The Two Oceans Ultra Marathon is regarded as one of the toughest yet most beautiful ultra-marathons around. The race stretches over a distance of 56 kilometres, with 712 metres of elevation. It started at Ohlsson’s Cape Breweries in Newlands, with this year’s race slogan being "Conquer the Current".

The day was set to deliver great results, especially in the women’s race. Phantane Athletics Club and professional Adidas runner Gerda Steyn once again set the pace and left the crowd in awe. Not only did she win the women’s race again, but she also broke her previous race record of 03:29:06 set in 2023 with a new time of 03:26:54. In the men’s race, Onalenna Khonkhole took first place with a time of 03:09:30.

The runners encountered their first major climb at Chapman's Peak Drive, accompanied by some strong winds, 32 kilometres into the race. However, the conditions were made bearable by the amazing views of the oceans throughout the mountain pass. The runners’ second major obstacle to conquer was the climb up Constantia Neck, about 42 kilometres into the race.

The first Soutpansberg runner crossed the line in 04:55:19. Keagan Truter finished just ahead of his teammate, Casper McDonald, who clocked a time of 05:09:58. Genius Katekwe crossed the line in 05:43:05, with Kudakwashe Madzima finishing in a time of 05:52:58 and Karla van Zyl crossing the finish line in 05:57:07.

Manie Pretorius finished the race in 06:33:06, while Bigboy Nefale crossed the line in 06:38:06. Jennavieve Truter’s time was 06:48:52, and Tshepo Dhlamini made it in 06:58:32. Veteran Soutpansberg runner Ferreira Nel finished his race in 07:29:01.

Bigboy Nefale stated that the race had been tough but enjoyable. “The wind was quite strong in some areas, especially along the coast at Muizenberg and Chapman's Peak. However, the enjoyment came to a halt going up Constantia Neck, and the wheels came off completely,” he said.

Casper McDonald said he had been well-prepared for the race after two years of long-distance running and completing the Comrades Marathon last year. “It was absolutely breathtaking and incomprehensibly the most beautiful ultra-marathon out there. Despite a few bad cramps along the way, the views of the sea going up Chapman's Peak were just mesmerising. I would definitely do this again and again,” he said.

“The entire race was so beautiful, and the run up Chapman's Peak Drive was absolutely amazing. The support along the route made the race even more enjoyable. Being in a bit of pain reaching Constantia Neck with 14 kilometres to go, I knew I was facing a struggle, especially on the downhills, with sore legs. Although you are on the brink of tears, it was all worth it in the end! The pain and contemplating whether to just walk all come to an end when you cross the finish line,” said Karla van Zyl.

For Jennavieve Truter, the distance and the race itself were a humbling experience. “It was a physical and mental challenge throughout, especially up Constantia Neck and its terrible camber. But the beautiful surroundings made it possible to push through the pain and reach the finish line,” she said.

Local club members are now continuing to focus on preparations for this year’s Comrades Marathon taking place on 9 June. This Comrades will be an “up run” from Durban to Pietermaritzburg and will also see the Comrades taking place over its shortest distance ever, 85.91 kilometres.

The Soutpansberg Athletics Club expressed their condolences to the family and friends of the two runners who had passed away during this year’s race. Siraaj Toefy (60) died after he suffered a stroke upon completing his 12th Two Oceans Ultra Marathon. The other runner, 23-year-old Nathan Kimbrey, passed away during the 21km half-marathon with only 1 kilometre to go.

 

 
 
 

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Karla van Zyl

Karla van Zyl joined the newspaper team in February 2021 as a junior intern.

 
 

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