CAPE TOWN – Lesotho athlete Teboho Noosi and Stellenbosch University medical student Annamart Laubscher raced to emphatic victories at the 22km Sanlam Peace Trail Race on the slopes of Signal Hill and Lions Head on Saturday.
Eight hundred runners took part in the 12km and 22km races, which took place over a scenic but challenging course in near-perfect conditions, following gale force winds on Friday.
The relatively unknown Noosi, training partner to 2014 Two Oceans champion Lebenya Nkoka, caused a stir with his mid-race surges and he took the spoils in a record 1:28:30 – 54 seconds ahead of defending champion Edwin Sesipi and 30 seconds inside Givemore Mudzinganyama’s 2015 course record.
“I’m really more of a road runner,” Noosi admitted. “I train on roads and trails in Lesotho, but this is my first ever trail race.
“I really enjoyed it and it was good preparation for a marathon in Korea, which I am running in October. My marathon best is only two hours and 25 minutes (2:25), but I want to run faster than 2:16 in Seoul.”
Saturday’s race was competitive and fast, with a group of seven running in close formation up a single track ascent up Signal Hill.
At the top of the climb at 3.6km, 2014 winner Lucky Miya led Cape Town’s Raydon Balie and Sesipi, with these athletes holding a small advantage over Mudzinganyama, Noosi, Thabang Madiba and Robert Rorich.
Noosi, content to learn the ropes of trail racing in the early stages, felt it was time to flex his leg muscles as the runners turned towards the Glen after 6km.
While his six rivals stayed in close contact through 8km, Noosi’s strength on the climb up the Glen was decisive, with only Sesipi staying in touch, reaching Kloof Nek just five seconds adrift.
Noosi opened the gap on the climb up Lion’s Head, but Sesipi hit back on the descent and the athletes raced past the Signal Hill Kramat within three seconds of each other, three minutes clear of Mudzinganyama and Madiba, who were locked in a battle for third.
The strength of Noosi told in the latter stages, with Sesipi dropping further behind. The final 1.4km on tarmac played into the hands of theLesotho marathoner, who raced home to secure the victory.
The women’s race unfolded as expected, with Laubscher again underlining her ability as one of the country’s finest trail athletes.
Running with her one-time Boland cross country teammate Danette Smith and multi-sport experts Vicky van der Merwe and Carla van Huysteen in the early stages, Laubscher ended the race as a contest after 2km as she accelerated away up the climb of Signal Hill.
Lauscher was two minutes up on Van der Merwe at the Glen crossing at 8.2km, three minutes ahead at Kloof Nek at 9.5km, and opened a substantial lead in the second half of the race, racing to an easy 1:48.57 victory – over 10 minutes clear of Van der Merwe and just a minute outside her record time set last year.
“I heard Carla stumble behind me early on,” explained Laubscher. “Then I thought I could hear her behind me all the way up the climb, so kept pushing it a little, but it turned out to be one of the male runners!
“The wind was not bad at all, and I only felt I was running into a slight headwind on one or two occasions. Mostly it was perfect conditions and I enjoyed the race.”
Hout Bay runner Admire Rushika won the 12km Peace Trail Run, finishing over two minutes ahead of last year’s winner Andrew Louw in 48:27, while Tanya Posthumus-Fox took the honours in the women’s race in 1:11:50.