Kane Reilly emerges out of the mist at Hout Bay corner, leading yesterday’s China Construction Bank Table Mountain Challenge. Photo: Stephen Granger

Kane Reilly delivered a majestic display of trail running over and around Cape Town’s most famous mountain, winning the 2019 China Construction Bank Table Mountain Challenge in fine style yesterday (Sunday).

The win proved a perfect birthday celebration for Reilly, who turned twenty-seven on Saturday, with the Cape Town athlete racing to victory over the challenging 44 km circuit in 4 hours 30 min 56 sec – a full 25 minutes clear of last year’s champion, Bernard Rukadza, who finished in second position.

Stellenbosch trail star, Landie Greyling, completed another Table Mountain Challenge victory in her first “come-back” run following injury, racing away from fast-improving Julika Pahl after 12 km on the descent at Hout Bay Corner, to clinch the women’s top prize in 5:49:59  Greyling finished nine minutes clear of Pahl, who retained her second position of last year but with a significantly faster time on a course which was by some distance the toughest yet in the TMC series.   

Greyling’s husband, Christiaan, ran a solid race, clocking 5:03:11 to complete the podium positions and making it a good day out for the Greylings.

Last year’s heat was replaced with cold, wet and misty conditions, with visibility on the Back Table and at the Saddle to Devil’s Peak reduced to just a few metres. “It was slippery out there on top,” reflected Reilly. “You couldn’t see much and I lost a minute or two, taking a wrong turning down Llandudno Ravine before going back to the correct trail.

“But I was pleased with the way the race panned out and I was particularly happy to finish strongly.  I wasn’t expecting the steep climb up the ridge above King’s Blockhouse to the Saddle, but I guess it just added to the experience! I changed my usual nutrition strategy and it seemed to work out well so that gives me hope ahead of the Otter.”

Bianca Tarboton showed just why she is rated as one of the country’s best trail talents, when she raced to an overall victory in the 23km “Lite” TMC, overhauling the leading male, Drew Romans, in the final stages on Lion’s Head to race clear to victory in 2:29:56. Romans took the honours in the men’s competition, a minute behind Tarboton, while Sacha Breuss and Sandiswa Kodwa were the respective winners of the 15km event.

Reilly and Rukadza raced together for the first 6 km, turning off the Pipe Track on the Kasteelspoort climb, but Reilly used his hill-climbing ability to good effect, opening a gap which was never to close.  Reilly was two minutes up on Rukadza descending Hout Bay Corner, with 2015 Ultra-trail Cape Town champion, Greyling, a further minute behind in third, and the gap had doubled at the half way point at Constantia Nek.

If Rukadza and Greyling had hoped Reilly might fade in the second half, as he did at last month’s Whale of Trail, they would have been disappointed as Reilly moved further ahead on the climbs up Rooikat Ravine and to the Saddle and increased his speed over the final stages, racing to the finish at Jan van Riebeek School sports fields in the fastest time to date on the 44 km route, 6 minutes inside Rukadza’s winning time last year.

IOL Sport