Eric Ngubane is making the uMhlanga Liberty 12km/18km Trail Run and Walk his own, dominating the 18km race this morning finishing in a time of 1 hour and fifteen minutes.
Ngubane has adorned the podium on a number of occasions over the years, “I love the run here!” the phenomenal athlete said, looking fresh after the 18km trek through the countryside
“The hills were challenging today, but I just looked down, concentrated on my step and persevered! I knew the new route, so upped my hill training leading up to today. The river crossing wasn’t at all challenging, I managed to fly across it without too much hassle.”
Beaming, he stated, “But first up, the beach! Wow! My legs took strain on that section. In previous runs it was a killer because you were so close to the finish but had to conquer the final stretch of one kilometre soft sand. Your legs were warm by that stage and you were used to the different terrains. Today it was a bit of a challenge with the shifting sand, I had to pray that I didn’t hurt my ankle.”
First lady home, Natasha Papini ran a marvellous 1.30.42, just over fifteen minutes behind Ngubane. “Today was amazing! The weather was ideal for the run. I would agree with Eric, the hills were challenging. Especially in the softer sand, you battled to propel yourself forward. I had to use every ounce of energy to get up them.”
Papini who hails from La Lucia runs two trail runs a year ever since the races inception in the area , “The race was well organised, the water tables were perfectly situated, overall a stellar event,” enthused the local lass.
A record field of 617 adventurous runners hit the trails around uMhlanga as the sun rose. The race organisers added a bit of variety with a new route, this time the runners churned through the 1km of beach first, and then crossed an ankle deep river before turning inland. The remainder of the run was through sugar cane and long grass on the longer route.
“We decided to mix it up for the guys. An interesting fact, no route has ever been the same in the entire running of this magnificent race.” said a chuffed race organiser, Buzz Bolton. “There was one bottle neck going under the freeway but fortunately everyone was patient with us.”
For the first time, due to the large numbers of contestants, the race organisers staggered the start, with three different categories.
Pic by Em Gatland