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MMC & MCS 2019: The full story

Marloth Mountain Challenge 2019 & the MCS finale!

The 2019 edition of the BOS Sport Mountain Challenge Series, amplified by Jaybird, closed out on Saturday 5 October with a gathering of true mountain heroes, each on a journey to push personal boundaries in a beautiful, brutal, exclusive trail running environment.

The Marloth Mountain Challenge is presented as the ultimate Cape mountain experience for experienced trail runners. This year, a 10km supporters’ run was added to the 24, 35 and 55km distances.

As the culmination of an exciting mountain running series that began with the Jonkershoek Mountain Challenge back in May, Marloth dished its usual, white knuckle final exam elements. With two out of three wins in the Ultra category, Siviwe Nkombi set himself the mammoth task of breaking the 7 hour barrier in the 55km. The Lion was ready, hungry and prepared for battle, but his competition included technical trail specialist, Oriole Bolus. Could Bolus tame the lion?

The 24km field boasted racing snakes such as Nicholas Rupanga, Hayley Preen, Jono Black, Roger Dickson and Lucas Adams. There was bound to be fire from the get go. In the 35km, plenty of experienced mountain runners such as Kristen Heath, Mia Uys, David Long, Grant Marcus, Zoe Papadakis and Anthony Cave toed the sharp end.


Race briefing. Image by Kim Stephens

It was not long before word from the 24km route confirmed a new record by Jarryd Dunn. This year, a slightly shorter route meant that records had to be calculated with a per km race average. With this in mind, Dunn took 4 seconds off the record, on revised 23.2km route. Jarryd’s finish time was 2:38:50. He was followed in by Jono Black in 2:42:32, and Lucas Adams rounded out the podium in 2:48:19sec. Nicholas Rupanga was fourth in 2:50:13sec, first vet, and overall winner of the Lite Series. He held fellow vet runner, Roger Dickson off by a mere two minutes. Hayley Preen flew through in 6th overall, achieving a personal best of 3:06:09sec. The third fastest (corrected) time in the event’s history and an effort over the three races that secured her title as the MCS Lite record holder, which she has held since 2018.


24km Finish Line, or an album cover shot?  Image by Magan Hanekom

Around 40 runners participated in the inaugural 10km. The route was a well-balanced combination of jeep track up on to the mountain, epic forest single track, two gnarly climbs and a fast-and-furious downhill attack towards the finish line. It was blitzed by Dylan Stevenson, back from injury and in fine form. His 46:12 result is a formidable time to chase in 2020. Second was junior champ, Jethro Dunn, in 51:22. David Barber rounded out the podium. Quanita Bobs took top spot in the women’s race, in a time of 1:05:35. Suzelle Stander was just 13 seconds behind her, and Nicola Moodie followed a minute later.

The 55km race began at 6am. By 10:30am Oriole Bolus and Siviwe Nkombi were locked in a game of cat and mouse, with Oriole leading for much of the section between Goedgeloof Hut (23km) and Proteavallei (32km).

Both pics: Oriole Bolus. Images by Jan George Steytler

Siviwe, under the pre-race guidance of previous winner and friend Bernard Rukadza, stuck to his pacing plan, and moved in to the lead as Bolus fell back with a bout of unshakable nausea.

Siviwe Nkombi. Image by Jan George Steytler

Unfortunately, the nausea forced Bolus to take a conservative approach to the final sections of the race, as temperatures soured. Siviwe put the hammer down, and finished with absolutely nothing left to give, in 7:26:18. It was a full 35 minutes before Matthew Kane claimed second place, and a further 49 minutes until Brett Wood rounded out the podium. Race crew and medics were kept busy with the application of ice packs and glucose testing, as exhausted bodies were simply unable to move from shade of the finish chute. Elsje Benthem was the first woman home in 9:50:24. Amri Williamson was second, and Dalene van Staden third.

Brett Woods getting some finish line TLC. Image by Kim Stephens

In the 35km, Juan Carstens nailed an emphatic win, in 4:16:55. Anthony Cave followed in 4:30:02, and Grant Marcus was third. Mia Uys nailed a 4th overall finish, crossing the line as first woman in 4:37:25. Kristen Heath was second in 4:49:12, and Bronwen Moodie took third spot.

Juan Carstens cracking the 35km win. Image by Kim Stephens

Mia Uys securing the ladies 35km title. Image by Kim Stephens

The show was far from over, and 55km and 35km runners continued to wind their weary way off the mountain, and down to the green grass of the Old Drostdy Museum in beautiful Swellendam. Dogs and children ran their parents through to the relief of the vibey finish line, and war stories were told over ice cold BOS Sport.

For some, the company of a sweep and the heart break of a DNF sealed their days. But, by the time the live music kicked off at bar and restaurant “The Republic of Swellendam” runners and their supporters were ready to celebrate a day maxed out in true mountain running territory. Memories of unrelenting heat gave way to the recollection of banks of fynbos in bloom.

Results were tallied, prize money awarded, and beer flowed. Each series finisher received a hoodie from First Ascent, and a hand sculptured soap stone Falcon with their finishing position carved in to the base.

In the overall series results, Hayley Preen and Kristen Heath were the only two to set new records. Nkombi ran the second fastest collective time in the series 6 year history, leaving Rukadza with the record holder title for another year.

Oriole Bolus, 2nd in the Ultra Series, and Kerry Red, 2nd woman in the Extreme Series.

All results and a comparison between series times from 2016 to 2019 here.

With thanks to headline sponsor, BOS Sport, presenting sponsor, Jaybird, and technical partner First Ascent. Beer and live music was sponsored by Saggy Stone Brewery. And, what is a podium without great bubbly? Sincere thanks to Steenberg for their ongoing partnership.

Until the next great mountain adventure, remember to go above and beyond, for our growth lies on the other side of that comfort zone, and beyond our personal boundaries.

#MMC2019. That’s a wrap.