CAPE TOWN – Ryan Sandes returns to his happy hunting ground this weekend, once again preparing to do battle with the world’s top ultra-trail athletes at the Western States 100 miler in California. The race starts 2pm on Saturday (South African time).
One of the world’s premier trail challenges, the Western States is also one of the toughest, known for its extreme conditions. The race commences in the snowfields of the Winter Olympics resort of Squaw Valley before passing through California’s Death Valley, with temperatures typically soaring above 40 degrees in the second half of the race.
The cancellation of this year’s Hardrock 100 because of the deep snow in the region, points to a particularly challenging start to this year’s race but Sandes, following his extraordinary adventure in the Himalayas last year, believes that this will be to his advantage.
The Hout Bay trail super-star enjoys the tough stuff. His victory in the 2017 race over local favourite Jim Walmsley, was primarily due to his ability to cope with the elements and his experience in judging his race pace.
Walmsley had conquered all before him, blazing to all manner of trail records leading up to the Western States two years back, and was well below record pace for the first half. But he fell victim to the searing heat and Sandes’ mental toughness in the final quarter.