Testing weather conditions could not dampen the spirits and determination of the 400 runners who lined up at the start of the 2017 Drakensberg Northern Trail (#DNT2017), which took place on Saturday at Oliviershoek Pass.
Now in it’s third year, the event drew a strong contingent of athletes from across the country, all eager to tackle the testing terrain and claim a podium finish at the race, which marks the start of the South African Skyrunner Series. #DNT2017 comprised of four distances including a 20km, 10km and 5km, but it was the 40km skymarathon that was most prominent.
The men’s field was hotly contested, with Pedro Calderon leading the pack, conquering the technical terrain and coming home in 4:18:54 ahead of Jack Macdiarmid (4:27:40) and Martin Crous (4:27:40). However, it was the performance of the ladies in the field that was second to none. Of the first five runners to cross the finish line, three were women who placed second, fourth and fifth overall. International trail star Holly Page clinched first place in 4:20:34, with Nicolette Griffioen (4:32:56) and Carla van Huyssteen (4:46:50) close on her heels in second and third respectively.
Clinching the winning title in the 20km mountain challenge was a bittersweet moment for prominent athlete, Tarquin Mezaros. He has run all the instalments of DNT and had his sites set on once again conquering the 40km marathon however, due to recent injury, was forced to downgrade. This did not deter him though and, possessing a wealth of knowledge and familiarity of the course, he blazed his way to first place in the shorter distance. Meanwhile, in the women’s division, hybrid athlete Sabrina Daolio, who is an OCR and triathlete, took top spot in the 20km.
Conditions were tough at this year’s edition of DNT, with athlete’s having to battle through rain, mist and cold as they scaled the challenging terrain. However, there was a wealth of grit and tenacity on display as trail runners came to the fore despite the challenges. There was close on 400 participants taking part in the various categories, making #DNT2017 another successful event.
Many local trail runners now set their sites on the next challenge of the Skyrunning calendar. For more information, log onto https://skyrunningsa.wordpress.com/.