Underberg – Local wildlife ranger Thabo Dladla realised his dream of winning the Giants Cup trail run as he and seasoned ultra-athlete Su Don-Wauchope wrapped up the men’s and women’s titles on the 30km final stage.
Once again running in sublime weather conditions, against a backdrop of the snow-clad Drakensberg mountains, the pair extended the leads they had established on the first stage on the closing leg from Castleburn Farm to the Bushman’s Nek hotel.
“I am so excited, so excited,” said an elated Dladla at the finish.
“This is a race that I have always wanted to win, and today my dream came true,” said the 35 year old Himeville local, who said that he was using the race as crash course training session for the Comrades Marathon.
The title is doubly significant for Dladla, who works for the Endangered Wildlife Trust on their African Crane Conservation project, as a significant amount of money is donated from the proceeds of the event to his Endangered Wildlife Trust and the Southern Drakensberg branch of Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, which is based at Cobham Nature Reserve.
“I love to run here, and at the same time I am always looking at what is happening here from a conservation point of view, and if I see something, then I report it,” said the proud Dladla.
For Don Wauchope, who was never under any pressure to win the women’s race, the trail run reaffirmed her love of running in the mountains, as she relished her recovery from the ankle injury the has kept her sidelined for an extended period.
“Day Two of a multi-stage race is always hard, but once I loosened up, I could start to enjoy the run,” said Don-Wauchope, who was supported by her husband Iain Don-Wauchope, who is recovering from medical complaints of his own.
“The first fifteen kays were beautiful and so runnable. Then from Swiman onwards it became a little more tricky and harder, just when your legs are starting to feel a bit tired.
“All and all it was a beautiful day on these glorious trails,” she added.
She said that the conservation message behind the event was made even more significant by the sighting of wildlife during the trail run.
“We saw a huge herd or Eland today, which was special. The more people can get out and experience the beauty of what we have, means there will be more people that appreciate the importance of protecting it,” she said.
“Everyone here was essentially racing themselves. Everyone has their own personal goal, and it doesn’t matter if you cross the line first or tenth or twentieth or if you are the last runner across the line, everyone has the same sense of achievement.
“And so they should,” she added. “It is a tough trail with long distances for a stage race, but it absolutely beautiful and a must-do for everyone’s race calendar,” she concluded.
The small field thrived on the personal nature of the race, the luxury of staying at three hotels en route, and the magnificent weather and meticulously prepared trails.
SUMMARY OF RESULTS
THE GIANTS CUP 2017 after Stage 2 30km
1.Thabo Dladla 7:16:40
2.Su Don-Wauchope 7:50:59
3.Travis Green 8:13:44
4.Paul Mitchell 8:27:17
5.Ryan Crossman 8:31:18
6.Robin Parfett 8:35:16
1.Su Don-Wauchope 7:50:59
2.Nicole Faul 9:54:07
3.Marlize du Toit 9:54:07