Truth is often stranger than fiction and the conditions at this year’s Richtersveld Wildrun were ample proof of this.
During the inaugural event in 2014 the weather in this desert took a turn for the worse and runners were battered with rain and icy winds on the first evening and second day of this multi stage race. So much so that the first camp had to be evacuated and moved due to a flash flood. This year, after ten months of no rain, the weather prediction once again looked unfriendly and conditions were pretty much identical to 2014 as a storm moved over camp on the first evening and continued to batter runners on day two as they made their way past the Van der Sterr Mountains.
A few other things were also identical to the 2014 event. The pure, untamed beauty of the Richtersveld wilderness, the feeling of breathlessness as we set eyes on the mighty Tatasberg again, that feeling of joy as we hurtled down Pypkloof toward the Orange River, the landscapes that kept on surprising and amazing us. All of these and more once again reminded us why we love this event so much.
While the majority of the field was there for the experience, there was an epic battle being fought at the front of the field, especially between the top ladies. The scene was set for a tight race between Katya Soggot from Cape Town and American ultra-running legend, Nikki Kimball, with two dark horses in the form of Karoline Hanks and Georgina Ayre. However, after a navigational error by Kimball on the first day and some quality running from Soggot, there wasn’t much opportunity for anyone to catch up with Soggot. She ran a smart race in the remaining stages, putting in good times and not making any mistakes to successfully defend her title and improve her overall time by more than two hours as she romped home in a time of 15:26:57.
In the men’s race Thabang Madiba did not let the absence of the defending champion, Bernard Rukadza, put him off and he gave his all to claim a whitewash and improve the record on day four on his way to the title in a time of 13:55:38. Rukadza unfortunately had to withdraw just before the race due to illness.
So after this epic journey through the desert, it is safe to say that each and every one of the participants and crew has once again fallen in love with the Richtersveld all over again. It will take some time before we stop dreaming about starry skies and wide open spaces and we will probably forever long to go back to this magical place.
Next year’s Richtersveld Wildrun will be a 200km, five day crossing from South Africa to Namibia traversing the /Ai/Ais-Richtersveld Transfrontier Park that will include the untouched southern section of the Fish River Canyon. The event will run from 13-17 June 2016 and entries will open on 21 October 2015. Keep an eye on www.wildrun.com for more information.
1. Thabang Madiba 13:55:38
2. Dayle Wheeler 15:16:24
3. Filippo Faralla 16:46:25
1. Katya Soggot 15:26:57
2. Nikki Kimball 16:31:20
3. Karoline Hanks 16:46:19
For full results click here.