Athlete back for Stagger crack

2016-11-15 06:00
Hillcrest Villagers Athletics Club star Michelle de Montille will be back to defend her title at the Sani Stagger on 26 November despite being hampered by injury recently. Photo:supplied

Hillcrest Villagers Athletics Club star Michelle de Montille will be back to defend her title at the Sani Stagger on 26 November despite being hampered by injury recently. Photo:supplied

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

HILLCREST defending ladies Sani Stagger Marathon champion, Michelle de Montille never expected to cross the line first in 2015 and goes into the 2016 race with a similar mind-set as she builds up to the gruelling 42km road running outing up and down the famous Sani Pass in the Southern Drakensberg on Saturday 26 November.
The defending champion was a novice in 2015 when she set off from the Sani Pass Hotel, bound for the border post to Lesotho at the top of the iconic Sani Pass, and back down again, and despite understanding the nature of the challenge, De Montille now believes she may have underestimated the difficulty of the race first time around.
“It is definitely one of the toughest races I have ever done and it was not what I expected it to be when I ran it last year,” said the Hillcrest Villagers Athletics Club star.
“I went into the race last year just looking to finish as I knew it was going to be a challenge.
“Winning the race came completely out of the blue and it was the cherry on the top for me after a tough race.”
With the assistance of hindsight going into the 2016 contest, De Montille feels that she has had to adjust her training slightly as the Sani Stagger terrain and conditions are different to any other road marathon that she has run.
“The conditions at the Sani Stagger are completely different to anything us road runners are used to and I followed my normal training regime last year, so I found the off-road running quite difficult.
“You don’t run along a smooth road surface so you are always concentrating on where you are running and as marathon runners, we aren’t very used to that so it made it a little more challenging.
“I have been able to focus more on trail running in my build up this year though.
“This year I have focused more on my hill work as well as doing trail runs, which should help me be better prepared this time around,” she added.
Although the Sani Stagger does carry the hefty weight of being a Comrades Marathon qualifier, De Montille will not be using the race to secure a spot at the prestigious ultra-marathon in 2017.
“The Sani Stagger is completely different to the Comrades and the other qualifiers - the race is definitely more of a bucket-list race for me.
“I won’t be using it as my main qualifier and I am sure a lot of people just do the race to say that they have run to the top of Sani Pass and back down again.
“The major accomplishment is finishing the Sani Stagger and enjoying a cold drink at the Himeville Arms after the race,” said De Montille.
With the Sani Stagger just under two weeks away, De Montille is in a race against time to be fully fit as she tries to shake off an irritating foot injury that has plagued her in recent months.
“I ran a half marathon in Durban this past weekend and my foot swelled up almost immediately after the finish, so I am hoping that it will settle for the Sani Stagger.
“It would be really great to defend my title from last year, but I am not focussing on that to be honest, I just want to finish again and enjoy the experience.”
Altitude is always going to be a factor­ at endurance events in the Drakensberg, however, while acknowledging its impact, De Montille is also confident she can overcome the additional challenge.
“The altitude does have a bit of an effect and in the last few kilometres to the summit I found that it was at its worse then.
“I like to talk when I run and when I was battling to talk I realised that the altitude might be playing a part,” she joked. - Supplied.

For more information go to

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.