Kane Reilly and Nicolette Griffioen are the 2019 South African Trail Champions after emphatic victories at the 40 km Hout Bay Trail Challenge earlier today, but the real drama played out in the women’s team competition.
Reilly took his third Hout Bay title in as many years and there was little the country’s leading Trail athletes could do to halt his progress, with the Cape Town athlete crossing the line in 4 hours 5 min 36 sec – a full 20 minutes clear of runner-up Tim Chambers, with former champion, Gauteng athlete, Thabang Madiba, completing the podium.
Griffioen returned to the scene of her 2016 triumph in the national championships to overhaul Landie Greyling at the start of the second leg to race to a 4:58:34 victory, five minutes clear of Greyling in second place.
Naomi Brand made it a good day for veterinary scientists, finishing third – 15 minutes behind her former Onderstepoort classmate Griffioen.
Tragedy struck Team Salomon in the women’s competition, with Kristen Heath collapsing from exhaustion on Hout Bay beach, just over a kilometre from the finish and with a 20 minute lead in the category, follow record-breaking legs by her teammates Bianca Tarbeton and Hayley Preen.
Heath was rushed to hospital and treated for extreme dehydration, where she made a full recovery, but her team were listed as ‘DNF’ rather than gold medalists .
The dual between Reilly and top road athlete, Siviwe Nkombi, ended shortly after the first leg with Nkombi suffering a pulled hamstring. Nkombi’s presence ensured a fast start as Reilly opted to drop his rivals from the start.
Former track star, Johaardt van Heerden, another returning to competition after a long absence, stayed within sight of Reilly through most of the second leg, but suffered badly from dehydration on the last climb up Vlakkenberg, dropping back to fifth at the finish.