Johardt van Heerden and Bianca Tarboton were the frontrunners in the Otter African Trail Run Prologue run over a 3km circuit at Nature’s Valley today.
The Prologue is a race in its own right, offering significant interest the day before the Otter African Trail 42km marathon, but is essentially a vehicle to determine the starting order for the premier trail race in the country, with several of the lead athletes holding back in anticipation of the next day’s marathon.
The fastest 24 men and 16 women from the Prologue form the “Abangeni” – the lead “warriors” who start from scratch and from whom the podium finishers will come, with the majority of the favoured candidates opting for early morning run-outs on the Prologue course.
Favoured runners Tim Chambers and Robbie Rorich opted for late afternoon options and ran comfortable Prologues to ensure their place amongst the top runners tomorrow, Chambers running the fifth fastest time of 17:16.
Top ultra-trail athlete, Nomore Mandivenyerei, in action in today's Otter African Trail Prologue. Photo: Stephen Granger
Kane Reilly set the early time of 16:38 – just 12 seconds off his time on the same course two years’ ago – before Pretoria-based Van Heerden, the form trail athlete in recent months, blitzed through over a minute faster in 15:27 in early afternoon, setting the scene for an absorbing “north vs south” contest tomorrow.
With ‘newby’ Bianca Tarboton, running her first Otter and first race longer than 25km, through the finish line in 19:14, ten seconds quicker than Toni McCann, it was round one to the young pretenders, with the vastly more experienced Landie Greyling and Nicolette Griffioen in 3rd and 4th positions.
With an hour of prologue racing to go, Cape Town Marathon Race Ambassador, Elana Van Zyl, celebrated her 53rd birthday and return to racing after her retirement as an elite athlete in 2005 with a solid run in 23:25, which left her on track to make the lead group, in 11th position.
3km Prologue Otter African Trail Run
Men: 1 Johardt van Heerden 15:27; 2 Kane Reilly 16:38; 3 Pieter Conradie 17:01; 4 Mvuyisi Gcogco 17:08; 5 Timothy Chambers 17:16
Women: 1 Bianca Tarboton 19:14; 2 Toni McCann 19:24; 3 Landie Greyling 19:58; 4 Nicolette Griffioen 21:16; 5 Julika Pohl 22:02;