CAPE TOWN – Courtney Dauwalter’s entry into this year’s Ultra-Trail Cape Town 100 km later this month is the cherry on the top in a women’s field which was already the most competitive in South African ultra-trail running history.
The 34-year old former science teacher from Golden, Colorado, in the USA, has taken the ultra-trail world by storm in the past three years. When she races over her favoured distance, which is closer to 100 miles than 100 km, there are few athletes, male or female, who can stay with her. Chances are good she will be atop the podium come prize-giving.
And when she turns to the really big numbers – such as the Moab 240 miler (384 km) or the Lake Tahoe 205 miler (328 miler) – records tend to be shattered by hours rather than minutes. Her overall win in the Moab 240 in 2017 in 57 hrs 59 min was 10 hours faster than the first male competitor, while her 49:54 time for the Lake Tahoe ultra last year took 11 hours off the previous women’s record.
In the last 18 months Dauwalter has taken the two biggest titles in trail, winning the Western States 100 miler in the USA last year and the Ultra-Trail Mont Blanc 100 miler less than three months ago, finishing an hour ahead of second-placed Swede Kristin Berglund in 24:34:26.
In short the charismatic Dauwalter, who “got hooked on ultras after running a 50 miler in 2011”, and who shuns fashionable racing gear in favour of baggy shorts and shirt, is an ultra-trail colossus, who will be racing in Africa for the first time in her career.