Featherbed Records Shattered

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Featherbed Records Shattered

The Salomon Featherbed Trail Run, presented by GU, has without a doubt become one of the favourite sporting events at the annual Pick ‘n Pay Knysna Oyster Festival. No other race quite matches up to it as far as scenery, natural grandeur, true grit and crowd-pleasing exhilaration go.

If you don’t take my word for it, maybe the voices of a few thousand trail runners will convince you.

Imagine a ferry ride across the estuary at dawn, with a monster climb up the Knysna Heads, in turn followed by a tumultuous ridge descent onto the lagoon. Blast on to the flats, bombing across the rusted train bridge and over a finish line heaving with colour and energy.

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Yup, it does not get much more exhilarating than this, except if you now imagine experiencing all this action three times in a single day. That is exactly how the SALOMON Featherbed Trail Run unfolds: a dawn run at 08h00; an afternoon run at 13h00 and a night run at 19h00.

The first run this morning saw a duel to near-death between Gauteng champion Thabang Elias Madiba and Stuart Marais from Stellenbosch, with the latter turning up the heat right from the word go. Incredible climbing legs and stamina made Marais unbeatable over the 15km Coelecanth Route, and he shattered his 2012 record by posting a time of 55min 36sec to beat Madiba by more than a minute.

Marais’ blitzkrieg, however, lasted a mere three hours before the second running saw the arrival of Kane Reilly. The young SALOMON athlete gunned hard and fast from the start, completely dropping the field of the afternoon run as he powered his way along the fynbos ridges high above the scenic Knysna estuary.

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With a kilometre to go to the finish, it became clear that the young speedster had a fantastic chance to shatter the Featherbed record for the second time in a day, and he did so with a jubilant crowd cheering him across the finish line. His time? An absolutely astounding 54min 39sec, highlighting both the class and skill of an athlete who now undoubtedly rate as one of SA’s top trail runners.

The two women’s races were dominated by two veteran outdoor athletes, Candice Davison and Carla van Huyssteen. Both athletes ran well clear of their closest rivals, with Van Huyssteen eventually scorching home in 1hr 05min 29sec for the fastest time of the day.

Right now, the Featherbed Nature Reserve is still lit up as hundreds of athletes negotiate the trail with the help of their head torches, but it is highly unlikely that any of the day’s records will fall in the dark and slippery conditions out there.

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Kudos goes to Magnetic South for once again presenting a world-class event with the assistance of two of South Africa’s key sporting brands – SALOMON and GU – it is sponsorship such as this that has seen the sport of trail running booming over the past ten years.

A very special mention must also go to the Featherbed Company, who once a year allow the organisers to present this exhilarating event within their pristine protected area. “It is a privilege for us to run here every year”, said Event Director Mark Collins, and we pride ourselves on instilling an ethos of respect for nature in each of the runners at our event.

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