ELITE SA TRAIL RUNNERS SET TO SHINE ON INTERNATIONAL STAGE
25 May 2018
Three South African elite trail runners take on up to 70 of the world’s top trail runners in the opening race of the Salomon Golden Trail Series, the Zegama- Aizkorri Marathon, in Spain this weekend, 27 May 2018.
Referred to simply as ‘Zegama’ by athletes and spectators alike, the race history and atmosphere make it a highlight on the international racing calendar, and this year it serves as the first of five short-distance trail races (under 43km) that make up the Salomon Golden Trail Series. The series concludes at the Grand Final in October at one of South Africa’s most beautiful but grueling trail races, the Otter Trail.
Described as a medium mountain route, the 42km race runs from the town of Zegama over the Aratz massif and the Sierra of Aizkorri which includes the four highest peaks in the Basque Autonomous Region, finishing back in Zegama. Three South African elite trail runners, Kane Reilly, Christiaan Greyling and Megan Mackenzie, are toeing the start line amongst some of the world’s best this Sunday, 27 May 2018, to race for a spot on the podium.
Despite the weather typically being one of two extremes: hot and dry or wet and rainy, it’s the crowd and spectator support that characterise the race, specifically the support at Sancti Spiritu Aid Station above the town of Zegama. Come rain or shine, the steep hike up to the aid station does little to deter enthusiastic supporters, and literally thousands of cheering fans line the trail making a human tunnel for all athletes as they ascend the race’s second major climb. Salomon International have therefore dubbed the Zegama – Aizkorri Marathon as having ‘the best supporters’.
All three athletes, who have made a name for themselves on the local South African scene, have been preparing for the Series since January, and are ready to put their experience and training to the test in Spain come Sunday.
“I'd love a top 10,” says Reilly who finished fifth in last year’s Mont Blanc Marathon. “The field is going to be stacked and I really respect a number of the athletes who are going to be lining up, but I'm feeling good his year and on Sunday I'm going out to try to go big for sure.”
Similarly, Salomon team mate and 2018 Otter winner, Christiaan Greyling is hungry to impress. “A top 10 will be the ultimate result ever.”
Representing the ladies, Mackenzie wants a top finish, but regardless of placing aims to run her best race and make the most of the experience. “I'm going there to do my best to finish in the top 10, but I never place any expectation or worth on results. I know everyone says this, but I'm going to go and run the bravest race I can, and I'll be happy with wherever I place no matter what.”
THE GOLDEN TRAIL SERIES
The Golden Trail Series (GTS) was created to promote professional trail runners as the world-class athletes that they are, to acknowledge the amazing, passionate fans as an essential ingredient in the sport and to showcase and protect the awe-inspiring nature and environments where we play and compete.
The Golden Trail Series combines five of the most iconic short-distance trail races on the planet into a dream tour for both athletes and fans. South Africa’s Otter Trail has been selected to host the Grand Final, where the mammoth prize pool of €100,000 (R1 478 305) will be shared equally among the overall top 10 men and women.
Zegama (Spain) - The Best Fans - May
Mont Blanc Marathon (Chamonix, France) - The Best Scenery - June
Sierre-Zinal (Switzerland) - The Fastest
Pikes Peak (Colorado, U.S.A.) - The Highest
Ring Of Steall (Scotland) - The Most Technical
Grand Final: Otter Trail (South Africa) - The Most Exotic - October
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