Unexpected Molweni and SA Trail Champs victor 2015

Johardt van Heerden looking fresh in the first few kilometres. Photo Grant Harper

Johardt van Heerden looking fresh in the first few kilometres. Photo Grant Harper

After becoming the SA Long Distance Championships winner at the second Molweni Trail Run on 3 May, Johardt van Heerden is now on the team to represent South Africa at the Long Distance World Trail Championships on Saturday 4 July in Zermatt, Switzerland.

Johardt collapses in pain and relief at his Molweni victory. Photo Heloise Hunter

Johardt collapses in pain and relief at his Molweni victory. Photos Heloise Hunter

In an exclusive interview immediately after winning the Molweni Trail Run, Johardt confessed that he was not expecting to win, especially after his experience with the prologue on Saturday 2 May, the day before the main distance race. “This was my first time on this course. Yesterday’s prologue was actually an eye-opener.

“I started way too hard in the prologue, and yuss I burned so hard. It was like ‘I’m never going to finish tomorrow morning.’ I came for a massage yesterday morning after the prologue but I was still so sore this morning.

“Last night I was not stressed about competition: I was stressed about the course. I just had to conquer the course. I didn’t care what my position was, I wanted to have a great race, not blow up.”

Race day, Sunday 3 May, was warm and sunny, which matched the mood perfectly. A large and highly competitive field was batched and sent on their way after the eye-opening prologue on Saturday.

Like Johardt, most out-of-town participants had never run Krantzkloof before.

Supporters waited excitedly at the finish line, getting updates about the leaders from Altus Schreuder. Andrew Erasmus and Owen Bengo, hopefuls for placings, were out of the running with injuries. When at last the winner was spotted, he crossed the line to huge applause and immediately collapsed.

Johardt van Heerden, the 21-year-old track runner from Potchefstroom, won in 3 hours 1 minute. “I worked so hard for this. I trained so so hard for it,” said the surprised and grateful winner, lying on the sports massage table. “I got my lead just before the third massive climb. I didn’t let myself push too hard and blow up. My goal was to conquer the course.”

Lucky Miya is congratulated at the Molweni finish line by his son, 9-year-old Tshepo.

Lucky Miya is congratulated at the Molweni finish line by his son, nine-year-old Tshepo. photo Heloise Hunter/TRAIL magazine

Women's Long Distance Trail Champion, Megan Mackenzie, runs happy light and free to the finish. Photo Heloise Hunter

Women’s Long Distance Trail Champion, Megan Mackenzie, runs happy, light, and free to the finish. photo Heloise Hunter/TRAIL magazine

Lucky Miya crossed the line five minutes late, running into the arms of his son and wife.

Last year’s winner, Thabang Madiba, followed in 3 hours 9 minutes, with a big smile on his face. Thabang injured his calf winning the Two Oceans Trail Run a month before, so pulled off the podium finish without training.

The women’s race was much closer, Megan Mackenzie taking the title only 22 seconds ahead of Nicolette Griffioen, SA’s reigning Ultra Trail Champion. “Any one of those ladies could have won on a good day, so a lot of it comes down to grit and how much you want it. I wanted it,” explained Megan, overwhelmed by her hard-fought victory in 3 hours 39 minutes. Ten minutes after the top two ladies crossed the line, Su Don-Wauchope appeared with a slightly bloodied head, to round the women’s podium.

It was a dramatic race, and beyond the competition was support, joy, and camaraderie that makes the trail community such an excellent one to be a part of.

See full results on racetecresults.com

Top 20

Position

Athlete Time

1

Johardt van Heerden 03:01:22

2

Lucky Miya 03:06:54

3

Thabang Madiba 03:09:18

4

Muzi Makdikwa 03:14:37

5

Mark Michell 03:17:32

6

Ayanda Mlotshwa 03:19:06

7

Lonwabo Magwa 03:29:39

8

Pedro Calderon 03:32:24

9

Graeme McCallum 03:35:03

10

Jock Green 03:37:10

11

Megan Mackenzie 03:39:49

12

Rowan Williams 03:40:12

13

Nicolette Griffioen 03:40:12

14

Craig Turton 03:40:19

15

Mapepane Mahlangu 03:43:34

16

Alistair Leslie 03:46:25

17

Nathan Hunt 03:46:27

18

Thanda Mbatha 03:46:33

19

Su Don-Wauchope 03:49:08

20

Sizwe Mkhize 03:54:42

South Africa World Long Distance Trail Champs team

Five of the Top 20 racers from Molweni, including Johardt Van Heerden, have been announced to represent South Africa at the World Long Distance Trail Champs.

Lucky Miya and Thabang Madiba join Ian Don-Wauchope and the Molweni winner to form the mens team, while the women’s race winner, Megan Mackenzie, will join Su Don-Wauchope and Karine Bezuidenhout in Zermatt, Switzerland.

The team was selected based on their performances in local races in 2015 of distances between 32km and 49km up to and including the Molweni Trail Run (SA Champs) and Jonkershoek Mountain Challenge on 2 May 2015.

Nicolette Griffioen and Katya Soggot were also selected but are unfortunately unavailable.

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