Salomon International Team Manager, Gregory Vollet, has confirmed that 2013 Trail Running World Champion Ricky Lightfoot from Great Britain will be participating in the Otter African Trail Run presented by Salomon and GU in the Garden Route in September.
Salomon sponsored runner Lightfoot, who was crowned champion at the July Trail Running World Championships held in North Wales, will be taking his place in arguably the strongest field yet assembled on African soil to contest what local athletes have dubbed “The Grail of Trail.”
Lightfoot joins Kenyans Jared Omwoyo Nyakoe and Silas Kipchirchir Soy in an attempt to become the first foreign male athlete to win the Southern Cape’s showpiece trail event, a trophy that will be fiercely defended by former winner Iain don Wauchope.
Don Wauchope holds the record for the West East running of the race with a blitzing 04h23 posted last year whilst the “Classic” East to West course benchmark of 04:40 belongs to non-other than Ryan Sandes. Also flying the South African flag will be South African Trail Running Champion Thabang Madiba and his two national team mates Kane Reilly and Michael Bailey.
They are but two of the contenders in a field brimming with big names. The in-form trail hard man AJ Calitz who bagged a big win in the Vernon Canyon Descent in France two months ago, was picked by fellow contenders in a confidential poll as the favourite to lead the local charge.
The USA ultra-distance legend Krissy Moehl became the first foreign born winner of the Otter African Trail Run with her win in the ladies race at last year’s Retto. This year New Zealand’s youthful sensation Ruby Muir is tipped to again keep the crown away from the local ladies although Landie Greyling and Robyn Kime, both just returned from representing South Africa in Poland, may have something to say about that.
The announcement of Lightfoot’s participation is sure to spike the already high adrenaline of the levels of the top local trail runners. His obliteration of the rest of the 18 nation field in Wales two months ago sent shockwaves through trail running world.
South Africa’s aspirants will be hoping that the relentlessly technical Otter Run course will test his trail dexterity as much as it will test his endurance. France’s celebrated mountain runner Sebastian Chaigneau managed a 7th place in last year’s event, the best ranking for a foreign runner to date in the men’s race.