Daniel Claassen, winner of the MaXiRace Cape Winelands 68km in Stellenbosch today, with runner-up Matt Healy (left) and French athlete, Cyril Cointre (third). Photo: Stephen Granger

CAPE TOWN  Marketing professional Daniel Claassen, ran the race of his life to take the honours at the inaugural MaXiRace Cape Winelands 68km in the Stellenbosch and Franschhoek mountains on Saturday, turning the tables on his close rival Matt Healy and edging out MaXiRace c-owner, French athlete, Cyril Cointre.

The MaXiRace is one of the world’s top trail races, with the testing 86km route around Lake Annecy in the French Alps hosting the World Trail Championships in 2015.  The MaXiRace brand began an outreach programme some years back and now hosts rive races around the world, the Cape Winelands version being the latest.

“It was a tough race and the hot conditions were pretty sapping in the second half of the race. I drank about eight litres and was still dehydrated,” Claassen admitted. “But I’m delighted with the win and hope I can build on this success.

“I was pretty keen on triathlon at school and then sport fell away while I was at university. About two years’ ago I was started trail running and fell in love with the sport!”

Green Point-based Claassen hit early success with a third position in last year’s Table Mountain Challenge before taking second to Healy at the Bastille Day 50km, but it was Claassen’s day in the sun, as Healy struggled with a stomach complaint and could not retain nutrition.

Cointre suffered in the second half of the race after running with the leaders through half-way, but was delighted with the new MaXiRace edition. “I think it is a winner and will prove increasingly popular with runners around the world in future years,” said Cointre.

“I knew I was under-trained for this race and would run into trouble, but enjoyed running with Matt and Daniel for the first half.  The start of the race in the mountains about Franchhoek was incredible and the views at sunrise were absolutely amazing.”

Claassen broke clear of Healy and Cointre in the climb out of Franchhoek, 28 km into the race, and held a 12 minute advantage over Healy through the 49km checkpoint at Boschendal before going on to win in 7 hours 28 min 16 sec – 17 minutes ahead of Healy.  Cointre slowed as the going got tough and crossed the line for third in 8:28:53.

Cape Town ultra-distance athlete, Jana van Houwelingen, held off the challenge of Hungarian athlete, Lidiko Wermescher, to win the women’s competition in 9:26:45.

Gauteng athlete, Simon Tshabalala had taken the lead at the 100km race shortly before the half way mark at Boschendaal after overhauling early leaders Lyndon Nash and Werner Bruckner, but was being chased hard by slow-starting German Guido Tagge, who was just a minute behind at Bartinney Wine Farm 63km into the race.

Local athlete, Anlize Enslin, held what looked like a winning lead in the women’s race and was an hour ahead of Elizebeth Vogts running through Boschendal at half way.

IOL Sport