Race Report: Malcolm Dunkeld – Wolkberg Challenge

 

“Classic Man vs Mountain race”

 

Day one of this incredibly beautiful and perfectly challenging mountain trail race starts about 10km outside of the quaint town of Haenertsburg in Limpopo. The first 15km of the 40km day one is straight up the Iron Crown which is the highest mountain in Limpopo and so part of the infamous 9 peak challenge. The route follows an old logging road until it reaches the beautiful natural grasslands of the Wolkberg (cloudy mountains). From here you traverse the Iron Crown before making the final summit push. 

Soon after the start it was just three runners competing for the podium. Myself and two others. But the mountain started to take its toll. I managed to stay with the overall winner to just before the grasslands but probably pushed a bit hard. As I entered the grass lands in second place Brian Gardner an ex Nevarest athlete showed his home ground experience and came hurtling past me. For the rest of the day I was comfortably in 3rd place trying to ensure the gap was small enough to be able to attack on the slightly less hilly and faster day two. The weather was proper mountain weather with driving wind, rain and mist for all of the day. I ultimately finished the 39.5km day with 1750m ascent in 04:14:30, 6min behind second place and 10min behind first. 

Day two and the weather was beautifully clear and sunny, I knew I had a lot to do if I wanted to move up a position on the final podium. I warmed up very saw legs as best as possible and took to the start line. Off we went, I tried to stay with the overall winner Khumbulani Ngende but he was just too strong. Unfortunately going through the technical but beautiful Cheerio farm I somehow managed to miss a turn and lost the minute I had already made up on Brian. This meant even more work. I turned around back up the hill I had just hurtled down and had to really dig deep to make up the 6.5min I needed to move up a position. I kept driving the legs on the ups, downs and flats and slowly made a gap. Not knowing how far ahead I was I continued to push as hard as I could. Soon realising the 25km day was actually a lot longer (29.5km) it required some more deep digging. I ultimately finished the day in 2:37 and managed to secure the second place overall.

 

It was a great race, thanks to all the organisers and hosts and of course our sponsors.

 

Malcolm Dunkeld