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2012 Salomon SkyRun – set to be an epic challenge with most competitive field ever including trail running sensation Ryan Sandes

The isolated and beautiful Witteberg Mountain Range in the Eastern Cape will host an epic battle on the 3rd of November as the cream of South Africa’s sky runners will be vying for victory in the 2012 Salomon Skyrun.

The enormity of the occasion is fueled by two factors. First, is the battleground. The Salomon Skyrun is considered by many to be one of the toughest ultra trail run’s in the world because of it’s wild and raw nature. The race route, which starts in the quaint town of Lady Grey and finishes at the Wartrail Country Club, largely follows a 100km knife-edge ridge-line that is as exposed as it is remote. The average altitude of the run is 2500m. There is over 2000m of climbing. Runner’s will take between 14 and 36 hours to cross the finish line meaning most competitors will contend with running through the night. The route is unmarked, and there is only one support station.

The second factor is that the event, now in it’s 12th year, has attracted the most star-studded and competitive field in it’s history. As it stands, in less than a fortnight 200 runners will face off for the coveted Salomon Skyrun crown.

The men’s race favorite is a novice to the Salomon Skyrun, but who has proved over the last few years that he is ideally suited in mind and body to running arduous ultra trail run’s the world over. He is Salomon International’s runner, Ryan Sandes. That said, Sandes who has not raced in the last 3 months due to an ankle injury, is quick to point out that the meaning of ‘race favorite’ holds little meaning in an event where self navigation and unpredictable weather conditions are so inherent. He explains that  ‘anything can happen out there so I won’t be getting too far ahead of myself.’ Many of the other top runners shared Sandes sentiments, including Craig Carter-Brown, considered a dark horse due to his good course knowledge. ‘With so many big names in the field this year its going to be very important to run ones own race and to make sure to not overcook early on!’

Sandes’s likely closest rival is Iain Don Wauchope, who proved he is in great form after recently claiming the course record and victory at the Otter Trail Run. Another dark horse after an impressive victory at the Four Peaks Mountain Challenge, Dreyer van Huyssteen will be taking a ‘humble approach and running at my own pace.’ ‘If I try to run with the “oupas” of mountain running like I did at the Four Peaks I might end up crawling home.’ One of these ‘oupas’ will be defending champion, and multiple winner of the Salomon Skyrun, Bruce Arnett. With some of the best knowledge of the course he will once again be a serious contender. Other names to watch will be multiple top five finisher Paul Mokehetsi and Salomon runner Lance Chapman, as well as Ryno Griesel fresh off a victory in the Hobbit 100km race.

The women’s race will be a close duel between Salomon runner Landie Visser and Sue Chapman with her impressive course knowledge. A late entry, Salomon runner Susan Sloan, Yancey Truluck and experienced Helena Ferreira who has just won the Hobbit 100km race will also be names to watch.

The Skyrun is a true test of man and woman versus mountain, where the race is not won only on running ability but through an astute combination of navigational skill, endurance and stamina across the varied terrain and unpredictable conditions. This is the heart of Salomon’s involvement and passion for the SkyRun, Jackie Moore from Salomon South Africa explained. ‘Skyrun is a true mountain run and all Salomon technical gear is designed and tested in the mountains for the mountains and it makes for such a great fit. The Skyrun is our premier event for the year and with the competition this year including Ryan Sandes, we believe it will take it to another level.’

Registration begins on Friday the 2nd in Lady Grey. For more information please check the Skyrun website: