Sunday 12th May 2019 saw the 14th running of the Volunteer Wildfire Services (VWS) Trail Challenge on the beautiful slopes of Table Mountain. The course is one of the few races along the contour path and gives many serious runners a chance to race in their own backyards for the 20km prize, while getting new trail runners out on the trails in the 10km event.
It was another sell out event this year, and once again the early morning weather was perfect for a trail race. Mother Nature played along stunningly as the sun rose over the mountain and the City of Cape Town giving the runners some amazing views to distract them from the hard climbs of Kloof corner and up to Devils Peak saddle.
The 20km route featured a number of tough climbs and possibly tougher descents (down Newlands Ravine), which the hardened trail runners seemed to eat up with ease. However, not everyone seemed so please at that time, but most were again enjoying themselves by the time they were greeted by the cheerful VWS marshal at the Kings Blockhouse water station. The 20km course is designed as a good challenge for runners, while the 10km route cannot be called easy with some steep ascents, but VWS marshal regularly placed along the route kept the spirits high.
Introduced last year, the King and Queen of the mountain prizes were again in play, and both were won by the eventual race winners in each category – Rory Scheffer (winning in 1:48:29) and Dunya Ansems (2:16:54). Second and third place in the men’s 20km race was a close-run thing with David Long (1:49:21) beating out Oriole Bolus by less than 30 seconds. The gaps in the ladies’ race were a little larger with Jana van Houwelingen taking second and Kayleigh Gultig in third.
Dean Stewart was the highest placed VWS member who ran the 20km race finishing in just over two and a half hours but was closely followed by new recruit Adam Ricketts and active firefighter Jeremy Rose – clearly their wildland firefighter training is paying off for them.
A tightly contested 10km ladies race saw less than a minute separate the top three with Jen Brown taking the podium’s top spot in 1:00:30, closely follow by Gianna Marais and Sandiswa Kodwa in second and third respectively. Samual Courts led the men across the line in 48:29 beating out Karl Midlane.
With a minor route re-design at the end resulting in a more controlled dash to the finish, there was drama for third place in the men’s category as it was a sprint for the line with Petrus de Klerk just taking the place from Ruan Myburgh. In the end they shared the prize.
VWS Training Director and dedicated volunteer Matt Schnetler completed the 10km race in full VWS uniform this year, after completing the 20km race in the previous two years in running kit. He ran in an impressive time of 1hr 5mins, putting him in 33rd place overall. Mike Rushton was also just crazy enough to complete the 10km in VWS uniform and was only slightly behind Matt.
As this event is the main fundraiser event for our VWS Newlands station, we would like to thank everyone who took part in making this another special and successful day, and hope to see everyone back again next year. Additionally, it would not have been possible without the support of all the generous sponsors and donors, especially Table Mountain National Park for the use of the trails.
We look forward to seeing everyone back again next year.
The race results can be found here:
All the race photos can be found in the various albums here: