Simon Tshabalala in action at the inaugural MaXiRace Cape Winelands 100km. Photo: Maxi Race South Africa on facebook

CAPE TOWN – Gauteng distance runner, Simon Tshabalala, raced to a dawn to dusk victory at the inaugural MaXiRace Cape Winelands 100km on Saturday, run in the Stellenbosch and Franschhoek mountains in warm conditions, holding off the strong challenge of German ultra-trailer, Guido Tagge, to win by 21 minutes in 14 hours 6 min 8 sec.

Starting before sun-up in Franchhoek and ending in Stellenbosch after sunset, Tshabalala, who is trained by former world half marathon record holder, Matthews Temane, showed grit and determination, as well as strength and dexterity to take the plaudits in impressive style.

The MaXiRace is one of the world’s top trail events, with the testing 86 km route around Lake Annecy in the French Alps having hosted the World Trail Championships in 2015.  The MaXiRace brand now hosts five races around the world, the Cape Winelands version being the latest.

Local runners, Lyndon Nash and Werner Bruckner, set the early pace, with Nash holding a 7-minute advantage at the Berg River Dam checkpoint at 38km, but Tshabalala powered into the lead over the testing mountain climbs on the route to Boschendal Wine Estate, the half way mark.

German athlete, Guido Tagge, started conservatively, but began to move through the field after leaving the dam and had moved into second place at Boschendal

South African Anlize Enslin held the early lead in the women’s race ahead of Elizebeth Vogts and she had no significant challenger as she appeared to be racing to a comfortable victory.

26-year old marketing professional, Daniel Claassen, ran the race of his life to take the honours in the 68km yesterday (Sat), turning the tables on his close rival Matt Healy and edging out MaXiRace co-owner, French athlete, Cyril Cointre.

“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 was second to Healy at the Bastille Day 50km in July, but it was Claassen’s day in the sun yesterday, as Healy struggled with a stomach complaint.

Cointre ran with Claassen and Healy for the first 30km, but tired in the second half.  “I think the race 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, 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.”

French athlete and co-owner of the Global MaXiRace Event, Cyril Cointre, races into third position the finish of the inaugual MaXiRace Cape Winelands 68 km at Stellenbosch yesterday. Photo: Stephen Granger

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, while Roelof Mostert and Anna Olivier were the respective winner of the 40km race. 

Results (South African unless otherwise noted)

MaXiRace Cape Winelands 100 km

Men: 1 Simon Tshabalala 14:06:08; 2 Guido Tagge (Germany) 14:27:22; 3 Lyndon Nash 14:44:01; 4 Danie van Zyl 15:35:13; 5 Werner Bruckner 15:45:20; 6 Julian Mitchell (UK) 16:06:22 

MaXiRace Cape Winelands 68km

Men: 1 Daniel Claassen 7:28:16; 2 Matt healy 7:45:24; 3 Cyril Cointre (France) 8:28:53; 4 Grobler Basson 8:52:37; 5 Kennedy Sekhuthe 9:17:36

Women: 1 Jana van Houwelingen 9:26:45; 2 Lidiko Wermscher (Hungary) 9:53:38; 2 Tarrin van Niekerk 10:58:35; 4 Ingrid Trindade (Brazil) 11:05:15; 5 Cally Silbauer 11:25:50

MaXiRace Cape Winelands 40 km

Men: 1 Roelof  Mostert 3:37:06; 2 Niel Swanepoel 4:11:38; 3 Justin Opitz 4:25:22

Women: 1 Anna Olivier 4:23:55; 2 Marna van Deventer 4:25:18; 3 Larah van Niekerk 5:18:49

@StephenGranger3