Back from international competition in Europe, Kane Reilly raised the South African trail running bar to new levels with a superb record-breaking victory in the 16th Hout Bay Trail Challenge on Saturday.
Two hundred and fifty participants, running solo or in teams, completed the challenging 40km circuit of Hout Bay mountain peaks in perfect conditions, starting and finishing at the harbour and summiting Karbonkelberg, Suther Peak, Llandudno Ravine, the Back Table and Vlakkenberg before traversing Constantiaberg and descending to East Fort for a final beach crossing.
By his standards, Reilly had below-par performances at Zegama in Spain and Mont Blanc in France in the past six weeks - the first two of the high profile Golden Trail Series. Bad sinusitis scuppered his chances at Mont Blanc, where his fifth place the previous year had promised hopes of a top 10 finish.
But Hout Bay is Reilly’s happy hunting ground. Having achieved the unthinkable by breaking the four-hour barrier for the new, longer course last year in 3hr 59min 34sec, he simply cranked up the ante, racing clear from early on to cross the finish line in 3:54:34 - exactly five minutes inside his time last year.
“I wasn’t sure whether I would be able to go for the record today,” admitted Reilly, “but I felt relaxed and strong and was able to race well. The presence of top athletes like Ben Brimble and Robbie Rorich in the field made me keep up the pace as I was expecting them to challenge me."
Robert Shaff, running the first leg in the mixed team competition, stayed within contact of Reilly for the first half of the climb up Karbonkelberg, before conceding.
Brimble placed second, almost half an hour behind Reilly, with Rorich, who spent time navigating his was back on the trail after running off course more than once, third.
Everygreen veteran, Katya Soggot, was too strong for Sam Reilly – Kane’s sister – returning to the scene of her 2010 record-breaking triumph to regain the title in an excellent 4: 59:17.