Annalise’s Story of the MUT

Thank you very much for this opportunity – this will officially be my first “race report” …. So I’ll leave it at that.. hahaha 😜

My Discovery George MUT weekend started with me and Jacques somehow mis communicating times and it resulted in me missing the Race Briefing, hahaha!!! He did make up for it and luckily they are so organised at this event that the race briefing was recorded and I could watch the whole “show” on his phone!

Annalise watching the Race Briefing on her phone

Saturday started at an early 3am, because the gun goes at 5am (a bit earlier than the norm) and I have to get the girls ready as well. I love my brown bread toast with lots of Honey and Almond ButtaNut for breakfast – depending on the day I’ll have 2 pieces. I need 30 minutes just to sort myself out before a race and I woke the girls at 3:30am.  My absolutely amazing husband, Juan, the reason why I get to do what I do also got up and we are such a solid team in organising the girls and ourselves by now, we left our apartment at 4:20am to arrive at the venue at 4:30am.

I was really scared it was going to be cold as the weather predicted 8 degree’s, but when we woke up there was a very strong presence of a warm “berg wind” 😀 – some heat!!

The race started at 5am and after literally 100m of flat running you basically climb for the next 10km, it was great. I really had to take care not to push too hard at the start as I knew the second half was going to be tough, if you blow your legs early on it will be a very long day out.

First check point came very quickly and it was just before this point my headlamp decided it was a great time to start messing around with programs and power saving modes – epic fail. Travis was behind me (again thank you Travis) and he was more than happy to share his light. I do believe this was also a blessing in disguise for me later on. The 2nd check point is where I could refill my Tailwind and the climbing continued at least we had a few little downs in between. The only thing that was a bit sad is that it was still dark at this point so you can’t see the beautiful mountains. The sunrise was magical though!!! I was really looking forward to some more runnable sections, I just wanted to stretch my legs out a bit. After one or two more shorter climbs and a technical down we hit a jeep track and I could finally motor a bit, really enjoyed pushing the pace and increasing the cadence here.

On the “ridge” just after the infamous Dizzy Heights climb

CP3 was a quick hallo and then I knew my family was waiting at CP 4, could not wait to see them. It is amazing what this has done for me mentally, especially in trail running you do not really see family and friends along the way, this was such a nice touch to this race!!  I was lucky enough to share a few kilometres with the famous Mr Skyrun, thank you Bruce was lovely chatting to you, what a legend!! Before I knew it I was nearly half way, hugging my beautiful girls and blowing kisses at my hubby! Refilled my Tailwind, had some oranges, most divine date balls and off I went with Jacques doing a little jog with me giving me some race feedback. The next section was mentally quite nice as I had done it in the training run and knew what to expect. The climb after CP 5 is the worst in the race for me, the famous Dizzy Heights – it is not that long compared to what you have done but it is really steep and your legs are starting to feel the elevation a bit at this point. I just took a moment here, appreciated the majestic views and gathered myself again. It was also quite windy at places, that hot berg wind so I knew I had to look after my hydration.

CP 6 was a lovely stop, people where so friendly, actually at all the Check Points everyone was so helpful and friendly – thank you!! Again filled my Tailwind took some extra liquids here as temperatures where rising. I knew I only had 20km to go and there is a lot more runnable sections coming up where I can push my pace again. I was playing cat and mouse with Kyle Herring at this point as I kept catching him and passing him and then the other way around, after passing him at about 45km I did not see him again.

Race Start smiles for Annalise at Witfontein

CP7 was great, the guys directed all route/course commentary to Jacques hahahaha I laughed so hard. The last 5km of this race was really technical and difficult on tired legs but I felt so strong and was able to still push and run majority of the sections, I was very surprised in how well my legs felt right up to the last kilometre.  All in all, a beautiful and amazing day out, feeling blessed to be able to take part in such activities. Want to thank Brooks Running SA for their continued support as well as Feetures socks. Tailwind Nutrition keeps me going for kilometres on end 💪

Annalise coming over the line absolutely delighted

To every single person involved and the race organisers of the Discovery George MUT – Zane and Jacques, you have surpassed all expectations!!!  This race will become one of South Africa’s iconic events, every single trail runner needs to do this race at least once, go experience the beautiful Outeniqua mountains!! 60km of the most pristine single track you can imagine, I will definitely be back!!!! The local trail running community truly are amazing, thank you every single person involved for an unforgettable weekend!!!

The annual George MUT Mountain Ultra Trail, presented by Ecobound Events in the Outeniqua Nature Reserve, George, Western Cape, South Africa, RSA

The women’s podium with Annalise on the top step in a time of 08:37:54

 

 

Brendan Lombard’s Race Report

The morning started off with quite a bang and I headed out quite hard as planned as I was keen to test my legs after all the prep which had been done. I felt good and opened up an early lead of about 5 min.

Brendan Lombard leads Roelof Mostert down a descent during their battle for the Discovery MUT victory which lasted for much of the race. Photo by Jacques Marais.

The risk of running alone in the dark however caught up with me and I ended up running through thick shrub which definitely was not part of the course. I saw a light shining in the distance and immediately knew I better double back as fast as possible in order to still be in the race. I caught up to the light and realised it was Roelof. What was to ensue was a race of epic proportions.
Roelof and I had a proper dog fight out there. We changed the lead for a solid 3/4 hours and it was a game of cat and mouse. We soon figured out each others strengths and I knew if I was to try pull away too soon it would be to no avail as Roelof would just catch me on whatever gnarly descent lay ahead. I was strong on the climbs and runnable sections and I chose to bide my time until it felt right to put the hammer down.

Brendan taking the win at Witfontein, Outeniqua Nature Reserve

I think it was with about 10-15km to go that we came across quite a bit of jeep track. It is here where I knew I could move quickly. I broke away nervously as I did not know what lay ahead but trusted my intuition that it was now or never. Every so often I looked back to see where he was and I really stressed out when coming toward heavily technical descents as I knew Roelof could make up time on me here. I even started asking for a climb late into the race just to feel a bit safer as I knew I was strong here. This was answered late into the race with the treacherous “Harries Hill.” As much as I cursed this hill, I was thankful for it.
The last few km’s were nice and fast and I could open up my stride and move quickly. I looked once more to see if there was a chase and I saw no one. I then knew the race was mine.
Thank you to Roelof for a radical race. It is not often in an Ultra a race is so well contested. Big ups to the organisers of this awesome event. I think you are onto something here and it will be evident in it’s growth.
I’ll be back. 🙂
Brendan

The annual George MUT Mountain Ultra Trail, presented by Ecobound Events in the Outeniqua Nature Reserve, George, Western Cape, South Africa, RSA

Lombard and Scholtz Run to Discovery MUT Titles

Brendan Lombard run to a hard fought Discovery George Mountain Ultra Trail victory over defending champion Roelof Mostert on Saturday the 15th of June 2019. The women’s race, over the flagship 60 kilometre distance was won in far more dominant fashion by Annalise Scholtz. The event also saw 25 and 9 kilometre distances contested on highly technical mountain running trails in the Outeniqua Mountains, outside George.

Brendan Lombard leads Roelof Mostert down a descent during their battle for the Discovery MUT victory which lasted for much of the race. Photo by Jacques Marais.

Lombard had made no secret of his intentions to contest the victory in the build up to the Discovery George Mountain Ultra Trail, which is best known by the abbreviated Discovery MUT. To achieve that goal he set out fast and had established what he estimated to be a 5 minute lead half way up the Cradock Pass climb. The pre-dawn start caused Lombard to take a wrong turn though. “I went off route for about 5 minutes, but fortunately I saw Roelof’s light” the race winner explained. The pair then stayed within sight of each other for the next 40 kilometres.

 

“I’ve never raced an ultra like that” Mostert confessed. “Usually the field splits up with everyone running their own pace, but Brendan and I ran together like it was a 25 or 35 kilometre race. By the 38 kilometre mark I was pretty broken” the second placed finisher elaborated. “Brendan simply outclassed me today” he retold, recounting how Lombard kept up a relentless pace in the closing 15 kilometres. The man from Cape Town eventually distanced Mostert towards the end of the Tonelbos section in the run into to Check Point 7, at the 55 kilometre mark.

The 60km race distance, at the Discovery MUT, started pre-dawn at 5am. Photo by Jacques Marais.

“It is probably the toughest 60 I’ve done” Lombard puffed upon crossing the finish line at the Witfontein Forest Station. “It has got a bit of everything and it’s proper technical. It was a proper dog fight with Roelof. We ran quite a bit together. I pushed it on the climbs but technical downhills are sort of my downfall so he would come past and I would fall in behind him. When we reached those runnable jeep tracks I just decided ‘let’s put the hammer down and go’” he elaborated as to how the race unfolded.

 

Lombard’s winning time was 7 hours, 3 minutes and 25 seconds. Mostert crossed the line 5 minutes and 5 seconds later. Mvuyisi Gcogco completed the podium places finishing 14 minutes and 38 second after the race winner.

For many of the runners taking part in the Discovery MUT the sun only rose well into their circumnavigation of the Outeniqua Mountains. Photo by Jacques Marais

Women’s race winner Scholtz had a lonelier run to victory. “It was fun” were the first words out of the new Discovery MUT champion’s mouth upon crossing the finish line. “I really enjoyed it. It was a tough day out but it was beautiful. I felt very strong, had some hiccups along the way but it wouldn’t be an ultra without them. But overall I’m very happy” Scholtz smiled.

 

The trail runner from Port Elizabeth was joined on the podium by former George local Chantel Nienaber and Mia Uys, a Stellenbosch University post-graduate student. Scholtz’s winning time was 8 hours, 37 minutes and 54 seconds, which was good enough to see her place sixth overall. Nienaber crossed the line 39 minutes and 21 seconds later, while Uys finished just over an hour after Scholtz.

Chantel Nienaber, an erstwhile George local, raced to second position in the 60km race in the Discovery MUT. Photo by Jacques Marais.

The shorter distances were if anything even more fiercely contested. The 25 kilometre race in particular saw exceptionally fast times with both the winner and second placed man breaking AJ Calitz’s 2018 course record. Making that fact more remarkable was the increased technicality of the 2019 route. Johan Cronje, the South African 1 500 metre record holder and 2013 World Championships Bronze Medallist ensured the pace was frantic from the off. The erstwhile track star was making his trail running race debut and had never completed a 25 kilometre run off-road; but that did not hold him back. He blitzed the course in a time of 2 hours, 6 minutes and 49 seconds.

The Discovery MUT treated trail runners in all three distances to big mountain running. Photo by Jacques Marais.

Anderson Ncube crossed the line 8 minutes and 58 seconds after Cronje; recounting how he had seen the winner fall at least twice on the Cradock Pass descent. Cronje’s falls clearly did not slow him down. His buffer to Rohan Kennedy, who finished third, was a comfortable 13 minutes and 57 seconds despite his tumbles.

 

The women’s 25 kilometre race was won by Ritsa Fouche in a time of 2 hours, 49 minutes and 45 seconds. Her nearest rival was Marta Jekot who finished 3 minutes and 15 seconds back. George resident, Rose de Jonge, complete the podium after overcoming the set-back of a nasty fall inside the first 5 kilometres.

Riaan Nieuwoudt makes his way up a technical climb during the 60km route of the Discovery MUT. Photo by Jacques Marais.

Seldom has a 9 kilometre been as tough as the Discovery MUT’s shortest distance. It like the longer distances featured true mountain running but none-the-less Warren Langridge and Marc Wierzba managed to dip under the hour mark. Langridge took the title in a time of just 55 minutes and 7 seconds; Wierzba was second 4 minutes and 11 seconds slower. Douglas Stanley rounded out the men’s podium. The women’s race over the shortest distance was won by Knysna’s Jess Devine. The 17 year old completed the very challenging course in 1 hour, 10 minutes and 18 seconds, 2 minutes and 56 seconds ahead of Trude Carstens. Ane O’Kennedy was third, just 14 seconds behind Carstens.

The Discovery MUT did not just feature mountain top panoramas but also a few trips through the Outeniqua Mountains’ hidden indigenous forests. Photo by Jacques Marais.

On Monday the Discovery MUT activities continue with the Vertical 1K challenge. The final event of the #MUTlife weekend is free to enter and takes place from the Ground Zero Bike and Trail Park in George. To take part in the Vertical 1K runners need to be at Ground Zero at 10h00 on Monday. Entry is free and runners will stand the chance of winning spot prizes, while the King and Queen of the Mountain will each receive a pair of 100% Sunglasses.

2019 Discovery MUT 60km men’s podium. From left to right: Roelof Mostert (2nd), Brendan Lombard (1st) and Mvuyisi Gcgogo (3rd). Photo by Jacques Marais.

To relive all the action from the 2019 Discovery MUT please visit the event’s Facebook page George MUT, where you will be able to view all the photos and videos from the race. For more information, visit www.georgetrailrun.co.za.

2019 Discovery MUT 60km women’s podium. From left to right: Chantel Nienaber (2nd), Annalise Scholtz (1st) and Mia Uys (3rd). Photo by Jacques Marais.

Results 2019 Discovery MUT

60km Men

  1. Brendan Lombard (7:03:25)
  2. Roelof Mostert (7:08:30 | +05:05)
  3. Mvuyisi Gcgogo (7:18:04 | +14:38)

 

60km Women

  1. Annalise Scholtz (8:37:54)
  2. Chantel Nienaber (9:16:15 | +39:21)
  3. Mia Uys (9:41:31 | +1:04:07)

 

25km Men

  1. Johan Cronje (2:06:49)
  2. Anderson Ncube (2:15:47 | +8:58)
  3. Rohan Kennedy (2:20:46 | +13:57)

 

25km Women

  1. Ritsa Rouche (2:49:45)
  2. Marta Jekot (2:53:00 | +3:15)
  3. Rose de Jonge (3:04:52 | +15:07)

 

9km Men

  1. Warren Longridge (55:07)
  2. Marc Wierzba (59:18 | +4:11)
  3. Douglas Stanley (1:01:41 | +6:34)

 

9km Women

  1. Jess Devine (1:10:18)
  2. Trude Carstens (1:13:14 | +2:56)
  3. Ane O’Kennedy (1:13:26 | +3:10)

 

For the full results from the 2019 Discovery MUT visit www.mobiielite.com.

Finishing just before last light was definitely worth celebrating after a brutal 13 hours on the trails of the Discovery MUT. Photo by Jacques Marais.

Chantel Nienaber’s reflection on the Discovery MUT

It’s been 365 days since I got to run around in the Outeniqua mountains. Sadly last year I only got to experience  the first 5 kilometres of the 25km GeorgeMUT and then had to #DNF due to a torn hammy.

I could not wait to return to do the “REAL” one. The scruffy dog 60km’s was certainly going to be a challenge… Fortunately, I’m familiar with most of the route, with this being my old stomping grounds. I think it’s only when you’re physically in the thick of things, that the penny drops and you remember how relentless some of those climbs actually are. When I ran past a fellow participant at the base of the renowned ‘Dizzy height’ – this guy just said “I’m over this”… What’s one to do??? When you hit a wall, you just have to keep on soldiering on until you find a crest again.

I think it’s like child birth, you swear you’ll never do it again – but before you know it, you’re surrounded by the most magestic panoramic views. That’s what keeps bringing you back again.

The friendly and efficient volunteers at the water stations were the ones that also helped carry the runners through. In the latter part of the race, I literally went into survival mode. I couldn’t help but envy Annalize, when I’d hear from the marshalls how she was prancing along in the mountains, looking so fresh and happy. I had visions of her looking like Gerda Steyn, breaking the course record while I was clinging on like the other girls at the Comrades competing against her. She was brilliant on the day and a dear friend.

I am however thrilled to say: I’m back! After a year of rehab and nursing this injury. Thankfully, I can do 60km again and spend 9+ hours on my legs although I nearly died. It’s been a long road, with many months of frustration and all those silly physio exercises. But what an awesome way to get to test your body. Lots of work still lies ahead but we will get there.

As I’m heading back to the Western Cape now, I can’t help but experience a fondness in my heart for the special people in George. From beginning to end, they carried all of the athletes on their hands. Assisting, encouraging and motivating you all the way through. It’s very evident that the team from Eco Bound race themselves. They know exactly what an athlete needs. We received fabulous goodie bags with not just GU’s gels, but Roctaine’s too (according to my friend “that stuff should be illlegal”). The locals of George take pride in their mountains – and so they rightfully should… The  absolutely the gem of the Garden Route. I suppose some part of me will always be in George.

Hopefully I will be back in 2020, stronger and actually enjoy Henry’s hill.

There are too many people to thank but I love you all, from my sponsors, clients, friends and family. You all give me wings. I ran this race in aid of Sabrina Love Foundation that is very dear to my heart. I want to thank everyone that supported me in raising funds for this great cause.
Lastly I want to thank God for His grace and love.

Chantel

Chantel placed second in the 60km race in a time of 09:16:15