EASTERN CAPE, GARDEN ROUTE – On Saturday, 28 October 2017, Tsitsikamma National Park on the Garden Route in the Eastern Cape was buzzing with the country’s finest trail runners, and a few international stars, gathering to do battle on the world-renowned Otter African Trail, a gruelling 44km race considered the benchmark of technical marathon-distance trail running.
Two of these athletes were Capetonians, Christiaan Greyling (Jeep/ Salomon/ Garmin), and Robyn Owen (Jeep/ Best 4 Sports/ Salomon). They were among 232 athletes all eager to stake their claim on the “The Grail of Trail.”
In both the men’s and women’s race, the terrain of the first section of the race favoured the technical runner requiring immense skill, speed and agility. Kane Reilly, top-5 Marathon de Mont Blanc finisher, took the lead ahead of Greyling by the first checkpoint, 20km into the race.
Despite the ensuing challenge from Reilly and Robert Rorich, whose speed had put them only minutes behind Greyling at the Bloukrans river crossing, Greyling held true to his current form and race plan, and took the lead with just 7km to go to take home his biggest win this year. He crossed the line in a total time of 04h13m15s, just under 12 minutes ahead of Reilly in second and Rorich in third, and breaking the South African record.
“I am blessed to celebrate winning the Otter African Trail Run in the fastest SA time ever – 4:13:15! I ran a race of no regret and gave my everything! Two years of Otter podium finishes and 4 years of working towards my personal goals. This race taught me so much in life about goal setting, patience, discipline, hard work and faith. The Otter is a world-class event and a special trail to me. It was a privilege to run with my Salomon teammates Robyn, Kane, Meg and Thabang,” says Greyling.
In the women’s race, Owen’s rock-running skill gave her a slight advantage holding the lead against her challenger, Meg Mackenzie. But the ever-improving Mackenzie took the lead and held a 4-minute advantage going into the last quarter of the race. Owen held her own, but dropped off the pace slightly, finishing 8 minutes behind winner, Mackenzie. Third place went to Carla Van Huyssteen in a time of 05h34m44s.
“What a weekend! I had a great run along the spectacular Otter Trail, and I am more than stoked to finish 2nd behind the new Otter African Trail Run Champion, Meg Mackenzie,” concluded Owen.
1. Christiaan Greyling 4:13:15
2. Kane Reilly 4:25:00
3. Robert Rorich 4:27:00
1. Meg Mackenzie 5:01:08
2. Robyn Owen 5:09:12
3. Carla van Huyssteen 5:34:44