Salomon Featherbed Trail Run

2012-07-11 09:26

Knysna - Both of the leaders in the Pick n Pay Oyster Festival Big Five Challenge - Stuart Marais and Alae Brand - won their respective races in Tuesday’s 15km Salomon Featherbed Trail Run - and both posted the best overall times for the event.

Click for more news on the Pick n Pay Oyster Festival Big Five Challenge

They now therefore add a further 1 000 points towards their Big 5 Challenge scores, and the provisional leader board now shows that Stuart has earned a total of 2 822 to Derrin Smith’s 2 708 and Antoine van Heerden’s 2 660, while in the women’s division, Alae has 2 850 to Fienie Barnard’s 2 840 and SanMari Woithe’s 2 715.

Because of the sensitivity of the environment and the limited carrying capacity of the trail at Featherbed Nature Reserve, the Salomon is run three times during the day - at 08:15, and then again at 13:30 and 18:00 - and all the athletes are electronically timed to determine the final result.

Stuart, who chose to compete in the morning run, finished in a blistering 55:50, and Alae’s afternoon time was 1:08:54.

Race director Mark Collins, of organisers Magnetic South, said that Stuart smoked the course.

“He’s the up-and-coming multisport athlete of the country at the moment, and he showed his class amazingly today.”

Stuart’s time can’t officially be claimed as a course record, because the trail was 700 metres longer today than it was when Piet Jacobs set the record last year - but Mark said that “Stu was about a minute and fifty slower than Piet.

“On adjusted time, though, I think he was actually about a minute and thirty faster.”

Stuart said he was very stoked with his run.

“I decided to do the morning run because everyone who’s ever done well in the Featherbed has set the times to beat in the morning.

“I knew that Nicholas Rupanga was the challenger today, and I just put on the pace from the start and went real hard, but he didn’t follow.

“The trail has lots of twists and turns, so once someone’s out of sight of you, they lose the motivation to chase you – and this was my game plan from the beginning: to get out of sight of him from the beginning.”

Stuart said that this was his first crack at the Salomon Featherbed Trail Run, but that he took advice from Rohan Kennedy – who’s knows the trail well (and who went on to win the night race yesterday).

“He talked me through it last night, so I pretty much knew what I was getting into.

“I found the first 6 kays hard going, but it’s all basically downhill from the 8 kay mark, and I just got into my rhythm from there.”

As to his position in the Big 5 Challenge, he said that he is taking each individual event on its own terms.

“I’d like to win the XTERRA on Thursday, and then get a top ten in the half marathon on Saturday – but I’m also keen to see how I can do them on tired legs!”

Mark said that Featherbed Nature Reserve is one of the icons of Knysna, and that it captures the essence of the Garden Route beautifully.

“This is probably one of the reasons why the Run has become one of the mid-week highlights of the Oyster Festival – so I have to warn anyone who wants to take part next year that it’s almost at capacity.

“We had 28 entries when we did our first trail run at the Festival eight years ago, and our first Salomon Featherbed Trail Run (five years ago) drew only about 200 athletes.

“We were almost begging people to take part, but they were saying ‘Pfft, we’re not interested’ – and now this year the Featherbed has become so popular that we’ve had people begging us for entries – and we’ve had to turn them away.”

1 200 people took part yesterday though - some on the 15km Coelacanth, and others on the 11km Seahorse course – making the Salomon Featherbed Trail Run the third biggest event of this year’s Oyster Festival.

Besides the scenery and the technical challenge of the track, what makes the Featherbed Trail Run unique is the fact that all participants are taken to the start on the far side of the Knysna Lagoon in the Featherbed Company’s four ferry boats – Paddle Cruiser, John Benn, Spirit of Knysna, and Three Legs – and that gourmet meals are served after the finish, which is situated back at the ferry terminal on the river’s town-side bank.

“The ferries can take 450 athletes at a time to Featherbed Nature Reserve – and I think 450 is the perfect number for this race,” said Mark.

Route maps, profiles, and full results for the Salomon Featherbed Trail Run are available HERE.

Watch this space on Friday for a report and rankings after the next leg of the Pick n Pay Knysna Oyster Festival Big 5 Challenge: the Totalsport XTERRA presented by REHIDRAT Sport.

Boarding the Paddle Cruiser and the John Benn for the trip to the start of the Salomon Featherbed Trail Run at Featherbed Nature Reserve