WESTERN CAPE, CAPE TOWN – On Saturday, 2 December, 895 runners from 29 countries lined up at Gardens Tech Rugby grounds in Cape Town to take on either the 100km, 65km or 35km Ultra-Trail Cape Town (UTCT), including multisport sensation Robyn Owen, 27, (Jeep Team/ Best4Sports), who was attempting her first 100km trail race, and she didn’t disappoint, achieving the silver medal and first South African woman in.
This world-class event, part of the Ultra-Trail World Tour, traverses the trails of the iconic Table Mountain, Lion’s Head, Signal Hill, the beaches of Llandudno and Hout Bay, the Constantia Winelands, and the upper slopes of Kirstenbosch.
The 100km Ultra-trail is a front-loaded route with two major climbs on Table Mountain and the remote trails of Suther Peak and Karbonkelberg within the first 50km.
The race began at 4am, with runners ascending out of the city, up Signal Hill and around Lion’s Head. The first major climb came some 20km into the race; to reach Table Mountain, runners climbed Platteklip Gorge, a notorious route with gradients exceeding 35 degrees.
After traversing Table Mountain, the route descends 800m, and flattens out from Constantia Nek to Llandudno before the second steep climb – the 600m Suther Peak climb. Crossing Karbonkelberg is where the women’s race heated up, with Robyn Owen catching the leading woman, 21-year-old Australian, Lucy Bartholomew, who had built-up an 11-minute lead.
Says Owen, “I tried not to start going out too hard, then I started getting splits to Lucy and I guess I got caught up in that. I was feeling really good, chasing hard, and I managed to pass her.”
From Hout Bay to Constantia Nek the route navigated vineyards and greenbelts, before a technical climb up Table Mountain through the Newlands Forests. Bartholomew, who ran her first 100km ultra-trail at age 16, regained the lead with just over 30km to the finish.
After a descent to the University of Cape Town, the final 10km of the race is an intense climb to the lower traverse of Devil’s Peak before the final descent to the homestretch.
Owen, the first South African woman across the line, finished her first 100km ultra trail with a silver medal in a time of 12h06m40s. First place went to Australia’s 21 years old, Lucy Bartholomew in an impressive time of 11h21m49s, and finishing in third was fellow South African, Naomi Brand, in 12h37m14s.
“Running through Hout Bay I had goose bumps – it was a moment that was worth the whole day. Later on, I fell apart a bit, but I hung in there. You just have to tough it out. There’s pain along the way, but all that pain is a privilege. I’m over the moon to be on the podium in my first 100km run,” concludes Owen.
The men’s race was won by 2016 defending champion, Prodigal Khumalo, in a unbelievable time of 09h51m, second place went to the outstanding Ryan Sandes in 09h56m03s, and in third was New Zealander Scotty Hawker in 10h04m27s.
Results – UTCT 100km Ultra Trail
1. Prodigal Khumalo (RSA) 09:51:00
2. Ryan Sandes (RSA) 09:56:03
3. Scotty Hawker (NZL) 10:04:27
1. Lucy Bartholomew (AUS) 11:21:49
2. Robyn Owen (RSA) 12:06:40
3. Naomi Brand (RSA) 12:37:14