RMB Ultra-trail Cape Town 2023, now part of the World Trail Majors, delivered a host of stellar performances and exciting racing from both South African and international ultra-trail runners over the weekend. About 400 international visitors and over 2000 runners took part across the 23 km, 35 km and 55 km, the UT100 (the 100 km race), and UTCT (the 100 miler) races that climbed Table Mountain and crossed the Peninsula.
Nicolette Griffioen wins in style in female division and grabs a 4th overall
Nicolette Griffioen was the first woman to cross the line after a long night and day in the mountains, in a time of 26:11:08, which earned her 4th place overall. Having withdrawn in the last stages of the race last year, this is a very pleasing result for Griffioen: “I had a good day. I have had a couple of bad runs lately, so it was really great running at my full capacity both physically and athletically, and not having issues like nutrition or cramping. I had a great run and loved it.”
Strategy was basic for Nicolette: “I came into the race with the mentality of hiking rather than racing, took the descents easy, kept the intensity low, ate real food and hydrated properly. I was behind Noami for quite a while and then passed her during the night in Silvermine [67 km], and did not see her again. I love the night running section, I really enjoyed it. It is nice just to run by yourself and hear the calls out there. And then you are back into civilisation on suburban trails, which keeps you occupied and takes your mind off things. So it was a good experience.”
Aleksei Tolstenko wins the 100-miler
Aleksei Tolstenko won the second edition of the 100 miler event in a time of 21:53:04. While slower than the winning time of 21:30:17 set by Fotis Zisimopoulos at the inaugural UTCT last year, Tolstenko was well ahead of the next placed man, South Africa’s Douglas Pickard from KwaZulu-Natal, who finished in 23:53:23. Cape Town local Chris Ngaka had an incredible run to finish third in 25:53:33.
Tolstenko says that he had felt unwell in the week before the race, and even the day before was not sure if he would start. “So when I decided to start, I pushed in the first half, to get the gap between me and the others as much as possible, so that if I don’t feel good in the second half, I could maybe still keep the lead. This is one of the most technically difficult races in the world, the only thing similar is in Reunion, the famous Diagonle des Fous, Madmen’s Diagonal. This was my second 100 miles at UTCT, and I think I will choose 100 km next time!”
Pickard, second overall, sums up: “We started together quite nicely, Vince, Aleksei, Vasily and me, and when we got to Platteklip Vasily ran away from us. Aleksei, Vince and I had a nice pace going until Rocket Road and then it was awesome to watch how those guys ran up a Rocket road, like Formula One cars, they just really flew up there, which in a way worked well for me, because I was able to run my own run. I stuck to my game plan. I got tired at three, four o’clock in the morning, but when the sun started coming up, I got a second wind.”
UT100 – 100km, true international level
In the men’s race, Dmitry Mityaev dominated, though he had to keep pushing hard to maintain the lead, with a determined Caleb Olson and others chasing, finishing in a time of 10:43:06. Mityaev had a fall after he reached the top of Table Mountain going downhill and experienced some pain, but kept going after he had already established a solid lead. Olson (11:02:28) slowed in the last stretch due to foot pain, widening the gap that had closed to just five minutes at the UCT aid station, 12 kilometres from the finish. Olson’s compatriot Anthony Costales was third (11:24:08).
Next in was Thibaut Baronian (FR) 11:36:29, then Simon Desvaux de Marigny (MU) 11:42:01, Mads Louring (DK) 11:48:35 and Johannes Löw (DE) 11:55:46. Local legend Ryan Sandes (ZA) took eighth place, and says he experienced bad cramping near the start of the race going up Platteklip after possibly going out too fast. He suggested that he should perhaps do the 100 miler next time: “There was such amazing community support that kept me going in some dark patches. This is a tough route with a high level of technicality, you can never get into any rhythm, especially when you are tired.”
Ruth Croft wins, 10th overall
Ruth Croft (NZ) powered through the 100 kms achieving tenth place overall in 12:12:20, dominating the women’s race. “I just wanted to do my own race and I was being told the splits at the aid stations, so I knew I had a solid lead and just had to keep up the momentum. I had done a recce of the route and thought it was really technical, but I did not find it so bad today. That descent to Llandudno was pretty special, amazing to have the ocean right there. Up to Suther Peak was super tough, but I just tried to eat and drink a bunch and things turned around. It is a tough course, especially with the heat and no shelter.”
Full results are available at www.ultratrailcapetown.com
The RMB Ultra-trail Cape Town live footage can be watched on YouTube.