We’re halfway through the first month of spring, and so came the inaugural Wittenberg Trail Run, hosted by the Assegaai Marathon Club and Wittenberg Offroad Club.
The week leading up to the race, (held on the 17th of September), was a busy one for the committee members of both clubs, with routes being cleared and marked, marketing on social media going into overdrive and race packs prepared for collection. Some of the AMC club members volunteered to test-run the routes to make sure they were clearly marked, and by Friday afternoon we were all set to welcome all the trail runners.
Saturday morning awoke us to overcast, cold and drizzly weather, but the team was already ready and busy setting up by 05:30. As the entrants started arriving, an energetic vibe filled the air, and while some of the runners looked more nervous than others, it was clear that all of them were excited to be a part of the event. After the race briefing concluded, the group of runners moved toward the starting line, and by 07:00 sharp the race had officially started.
The two distances split into two different directions, only to meet up again at the finish line. The 19km runners saw an almost immediate little climb over a small hill, just to get hearts pumping and legs working. After that a good mix of hills and flats, open road and single track, grasslands and plantations kept things interesting and provided a beautiful setting for the runners.
For those who preferred to take a more leisurely pace there were ample opportunities to stop and take in the view (although the mist did obscure most of the landscape) while the racing snakes barely stopped to enjoy the refreshments at the water points. Three water refilling stations on the route were a welcome sight to runners who could refill their water supply, help themselves to the bananas and jelly babies, and enjoy a bit of a break and socialising before heading further. Even with the light rain, it was a most enjoyable day and the feedback from the athletes was very positive.
The winners on the 9km route, were Nkosinathi Lushaba (no club) in a time of 54:22 and Coleen Wessels (no club) in 57:53, respectively. The 19km titles were taken by local Assegaai Club runner Bonginkosi Mavuso in 1:30:43 and Minette Johnstone (Pongola Club) in 2:22:06. In total, we had 111 athletes competing on the day, and everyone was in agreement that the inaugural race was a resounding success.
The Assegaai Marathon Club and Wittenberg Offroad Club would like to thank the sponsors who enabled us to host this event (TWK, Safire, Spar and ES Chemicals), the volunteers (who include the physiotherapists, photographer and videographer) who helped at water stations and various points on the route, as well as every athlete who came and took part in this race. We are confident that this event will grow into one of the biggest in the area and are already looking forward to welcoming some new faces to the race next year. Anné Nieuwenhuizen