Marais victorious at Salomon Featherbed
Stellenbosch-based elite multisport athlete Stuart Marais won the fourth annual Salomon Featherbed Trail Run, presented by GU performance energy products at the Pick n Pay Knysna Oyster Festival earlier today (Tuesday July 10).
Competing for the first time in this event, Marais made an impressive time of 55:50 on the 15km Coelacanth Route in the early morning time slot of the race. Knysna local Malakaya Mzi, who competed in the afternoon, also made it under the hour mark, coming in second with a time of 59:36. Third place went to Nicholas Rupanga who finished exactly on the hour.
The woman’s race was closely contested with the top three places within seconds of each other. Alae Brand (01:08:54) narrowly beat Landie Greyling (01:09) and Susan Sloan (01:09:44).
Winners of the 11 km Seahorse Route were Ross Lahana (48:19), Eddie Mouton (50:12) and Sebastian Kellerman (50:47). The ladies winners were Kristen Heath (51:58), Jacoline Haasbroek (52:24) and Dawn Springer (59:30).
“The Featherbed Trail Run has once again attracted athletes from across the country, and has grown from one to three race slots since its inception in 2008. The event’s two routes offer a unique opportunity to run across the western Head of Knysna and is the best combination of challenge and spectacular scenery,” said race director Mark Collins of Knysna-based event organising company Magnetic South.
Winners for both routes were determined by comparing individual times of participants in three different time slots (morning, afternoon and evening), with the fastest three on each route winning prizes.
Starting with a ferry trip over the Knysna estuary, the route takes runners through the well-known Featherbed Nature Reserve, Lake Brenton, back into town on the railway bridge over the lagoon and finishes at Cruise Café. The longer Coelacanth Route is particularly gruelling with a 442-metre climb from sea level onto the western Head ridge.
In addition to naming sponsors, other event partners included the Knysna Featherbed Company, Petzl (headlamps) and Trail Magazine. Lucky draw prizes were sponsored by Knysna Featherbed Company and Legacy Group Hotels (Kuzuko Lodge, Kruger Park Lodge and Kwa Maritane Lodge).
Featuring spectacular sea and lagoon-side scenery on both sides of the western Head of Knysna, the 15 km Coelecanth Route is longer and tougher than the Seahorse Route.
Beginning at the jetty at the bottom of the Featherbed Nature Reserve, the route starts off easy along the inside edge of the Knysna lagoon, offering great views of the opposite eastern Knysna Head, before bending into a steep climb onto the top of the hill.
The up-and-down route along the escarpment consists mainly of single tracks over coastal fynbos terrain (affording brilliant sights over the Indian Ocean towards Buffalo Bay) and eventually drops into Lake Brenton village. Athletes finish back in town after crossing the estuary on the famous railway bridge that once carried the well-known Outeniqua Choo-Tjoe stream train across the water. The finish line is at the Featherbed ferry terminus at Cruise Café.
Offering a good deal of up-and-down over the ridge but eliminating the killer climb up the western Head, the 11 km Sea Horse Route takes a more direct line to the finish. Athletes are given a lift up the hill with the Featherbed Nature Reserve 4 x 4 truck and seated trailer, from where the trail eventually joins the Coelecanth Route.
Trail type: 43% single track, 19% railway path, 14% gravel road, 10% jeep track, 10% paved pathway, 3.85% bridge walkway and 0.15% asphalt.
The Salomon Featherbed Trail Run, presented by GU, is a Big 5 event. Ultra athletes can participate in five out of seven sport events during the Pick n Pay Knysna Oyster Festival and their combined times then added and compared to determine final results. The Big 5 events are: the Pick n Pay Weekend Argus Rotary Knysna 80 km Mountainbike (July 7) or 100 km Road Race (July 8), 22 km Knysna Lagoon Challenge (July 8), 15 km Salomon Featherbed Trail Run (July 10), the full Totalsports XTERRA presented Rehidrat®Sport (July 12), and Pick n Pay Cape Times Knysna Forest Half or full Marathon (July 14).