Cape Town - With last year’s
first and second placed men back to claim the top spot for 2018, and a very
strong field of international elite athletes travelling to South Africa for December 1, the Ultra-trail Cape Town (UTCT) men’s race will be an exciting one.
The women’s race also looks to be closely contested, with Italian Francesca
Canepa and Kelly Wolf from the United States currently on the same top
points in the International Trail Running Association (ITRA) ranking, which
means that UTCT will decide the 2018 World Tour Women’s champion.
originally from Zimbabwe, was the winner of both the 2016 and 2017 UTCT 100km.
He is eyeing the hat-trick, and has the advantage of knowing the route well -
where to hold back and where to take chances. Khumalo placed 11th at this
year’s Comrades and also won the Zululand Ultra Marathon 56km.
Ryan Sandes came second in the 2017 UTCT, the first time he had taken on the
event. He goes into this year’s race with the advantage of having trained
regularly on the route, and he has the support of the local trail running
community. Sandes came first in the 2017 Western States 100 Miler, and in 2018
he achieved the incredible feat of completing the 1406km Grand Himalayan
Traverse, crossing in a record breaking time of just under 25 days.
"I am stoked
to be a part of UTCT again this year. It’s pretty awesome to have some of the
best trail runners in the world coming to race in my backyard. We have a very
cool trail community in Cape Town and getting to run in front of them is always
really special. In the space of a few years UTCT has become one of the must do
races on the global trail running scene and I can't wait to be on the start
Canadian Rob Krar
has definitely set his sights on the podium at UTCT after a first place at
Leadville Trail 100km this year. He came first in 2014 and 2015 at Western
should have been a career-ending injury in the summer of 2017 derailed my plans
to race UTCT last year, I'm stoked to be healthy, training, and racing again.
UTCT will certainly push me out of my comfort zone and I'm looking forward to
2017 French Trail
Champion Nicolas Martin is another strong contender, as is Chris Mocko from
Colorado in the US, who came first at the 2018 Leadville Trail Marathon and
first at the 2018 Cheyenne Marathon. Elov Olssen from Sweden is strong on road
and trail, with a 22nd in the Comrades Marathon this year and first in the 2017
Last year’s Otter
Africa Trail Run winner and top 10 finisher of this year’s Retto (Reverse Otter
African Trail Run), South African Christiaan Greyling, is definitely someone to
watch. He won the UTCT 100km in 2015, giving him insight to the route. He came
third at this year’s Whale trail 50km and 12th at the 2017 Ultra Trail
Edson Kumwamba finished 13th last year at UTCT, and was 32nd at the Mont-Blanc 90km, so will be looking to make his mark
back on African soil. German-born Janosch
Kowalczyk, Sangé Sherpa from Nepal, Zimbabwean Lovemore Chabata, Ugo Ferrari from
France and SA’s Robbie Rorich are all athletes to watch at the fifth edition of
Who to watch
in the women’s field
Francesca Canepa has had a very strong 2018 season and won the coveted UTMB
title as well as the 100 Miles of Istria. Kelly Wolf, the 24-year-old American,
is looking equally strong with wins at this year’s Tarawera 100km and the
Lavaredo 120km. With UTCT being the decider in the UTWT rankings for the year,
the competition is fierce, but these women are also looking forward to seeing
South Africa for the first time.
“I think this
will be the best way to end my racing season, plus it’s a dream to escape from
winter for the last UTWT race of the year,” Canepa says.
Kelly Wolf says:
“South Africa has long been on my dream list of places to explore and I cannot
think of a better way to experience Cape Town than running a 100km loop
around the city, the trails, and the iconic Table Mountain!”
Kotka says that UTCT is on her bucket list: “I run races to experience new
places and Cape Town seems so beautiful. The race organisation seems awesome
too, which makes it even more welcoming.”
Kotka came first
at this year’s Mont Blanc 90km, as well as at the Maxirace Ultra and Madeira
Island Ultra-trail. She won both the UTMB CCC and UTMB TDS in 2016 and 2017
respectively, breaking the women’s TDS course record by 46 minutes in 2017.
French ultra runner Nathalie
Mauclair is a previous UTMB winner (2015) and 2017 saw her come third at the
2017 Hardrock 100 Miler and second in Le Marathon Des Sables. Although
the longer distances is where her strength lies, Mauclair is a solid candidate
to take the top spot.
Kerry-Ann Marshall is another athlete with the advantage of being local to Cape
Town and regularly training on Table Mountain. She won the UTCT 100km in 2015,
but then a bad knee injury in 2016 required surgery and a nine month break from
running. She extended her time off from competitive running after the birth of
her daughter 11 months ago, and is now ready to take on the world’s top ultra
“The route covers
everything you can imagine from technical climbs, steep descents, beach,
forests, stairs and fast running sections. I’m so grateful to be able to
attempt this again and am already visualizing running over the line with my
from Réunion Island came first at the 2017 Salomon Maxi Race and 5th at the
2017 Grand Raid Réunion. Reunion Island is known for its volcanoes and steep,
wild terrain. Considering UTCT’s 4 300m elevation gain with considerable climbs
like Platteklip, Suther Peak and Blockhouse, Tramoni may be at an advantage on
Violett finished 6th at this year’s Western States. Having won the 2014 edition
of Western States, she is another experienced athlete to watch.
With strong local
talent and a wide range of international elites, Ultra-Trail Cape Town is ready
to entrench itself as one of the top ultra trail running events in the world.