Scratched events leave two races to run in KZN

2009-11-27 00:00

CANCELLATIONS have reduced this week’s racing to two events almost at opposite extremes of the province.

There are few events that offer the challenge and view that runners experience in the Sani Stagger, which this year only has options of the 21 km down run and the monster up-and-down marathon.

Although Saturday’s marathon, which starts at 6 am outside the Sani Pass Hotel, technically qualifies runners for both the Two Oceans and Comrades marathons, only about 45 of the almost 300 entries are able to break the five-hour barrier. With over 1 300 m of climb, there can be little surprise that the record marathon is over 3 hours 10 minutes and the first woman typically crosses the line after four hours.

In spite of the gravitational advantage, the half-marathon times are also relatively conservative, giving a good indication of the poor footing and just how steep some of the down sections are. However, being forced to walk is not something many of the runners complain about, as the views from the “top of the world” are stunning and it is not unusual for participants to reach the top above the cloud level.

Entries for the half-marathon are full, but 42 km entries may still be taken this afternoon at the Underberg Country Club registration point. Contact Trish Crawley for more details at 083 447 0766. Participants should carry their IDs or passports with them to the race as the run goes through the SA Border post and turns at the Lesotho border on top of Sani Pass.

The other race is at Empangeni, where in recent years the growing ­Umhlathuze Club has taken over the Spareshop Heatonville 18 km, which starts at Addison Park in Empangeni at 6 am on Sunday.

The route follows undulating farm roads adjacent to the main road before turning north to follow the tar up the climb for the second half of the race to finish at Heatonville Farmers’ Hall.

All finishers receive a medal, with top runners earning the usual prize money. For the first time, there is also a concurrent mountain bike challenge over a separate 32,5 km course.

The traditional Umhlathuze hospitality and refreshments will be on offer at the fi­nish. Brian Goddard has more details at 083 270 1976.

Sunday’s Lamontville 15 km race has been cancelled, as has the DAC Calder Cup scheduled for December 20, although there seem to be some attempts to host an alternative, failing which clubs will be holding special club runs on the same day.

KZN Athletics will be hosting a technical officials’ workshop on December 5 at King’s Park from 8 am to 5 pm.

It is open to all club members, school teachers, sport ma­nagement students and anyone else inte­rested in becoming an official. Call the KZN Athletics offices at 031 312 9374 for more details.

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