It’s a wrap from the Old Mutual Wild Series Golden Gate Challenge 2016
It was a highly competitive field and a festive affair at this year’s Old Mutual Wild Series Golden Gate challenge, which took place from 20-23 October at the Golden Gate Highlands National Park. This wraps up the year for all events for 2016. The participants experienced the glory and golden moments of this most sought-after trail event in the country, as they paid it forward through raising funds for the critically endangered bearded vulture.
The men’s race was fast-paced and exciting, with some records falling on day one by Wild Series Mont-Aux-Sources multiple winner Eric Ngubane. He took the 3-day series in a time of 06:30:04 followed by Old Mutual’s running team member Nomore Mandivengerei in a time of 06:37:58. Third spot was taken by Solicitor Manduwa in a time of 06:56:21. Ngubane says, “I’ve run many races and I don’t remember a day when I came second! There’s no other option, if you train hard, you get the results. For me, this is a part of my life. I love running, I enjoy the mountains and I’m a Comrades runner. I’m so happy to be here and I hope to be back again.”
The ladies race was no different as Tracy Zunckel won it in a time of 08:31:10. Second position was taken by newcomer Nonsikelelo Mbambo (running in the Old Mutual colours) in a time of 08:57:05. Third spot was taken by Carine Gagiano (Old Mutual Wild Series Kruger2Canyon champion) in a time of 08:57:25. Zunckel says, “I feel quite embarrassed standing up here because everyone that has come up here has done so much. Wildlands are amazing, I just love being part of your events. I wish I could get to all of them. One day when I’m older!”
The conditions on day 1 (27km) were windy and cool but agreeable for the runners. There were some slippery parts due to the torrential downpour experienced the night before. Day 2 (29km) was no different, runners spotted various game en route including wildebeest, blesbok and antelope. None of them were lucky enough to spot the bearded vultures, but knowing that they were running for the estimated 100 pairs remaining, it was reassuring. Day 3 (17km) was short and quick and was sealed off with a refreshing champagne breakfast.
Karen Thomas, Old Mutual Head of Brand comments, “The Old Mutual and Wild Series partnership is one that cements our commitment to our core values and responsible business pillar. It is a privilege to be able to offer passionate athletes the opportunity to experience some of the most beautiful terrain this country has to offer. We have no doubt of the value these events add to the wellbeing of our country and sustainability of our environments. Conserving our heritage remains a priority for our business.”
“Thank you to our title sponsor, Old Mutual for continuing to share our vision of bringing South Africans high-octane endurance events, designed to test even the toughest athletes while raising funds and awareness of endangered species and habitats. It is evident from seeing the participants here this weekend that they enjoyed exclusive access to the Golden Gate Highlands National Park. We hope that your experience was both memorable and exhilarating. Thank you to the Wildlands team and all our sponsors. You make it all happen,” comments Dr Andrew Venter, Wildlands CEO.
The event would not be a success without the over 50 dedicated honorary rangers that worked tirelessly all weekend in ensuring the runners safety in the park. Thank you to Jonssons for the fantastic garments for the participants, and Timefreight for the massages which the runners thoroughly enjoyed. Thank you to Old Mutual for their continued support in enabling this world-class event. Most of all, thank you to our participants who continue to support our conservation efforts around the country. We hope to see you back in 2017 to continue helping us do great things and enabling a positive and sustainable future for all.
To find out more about the Old Mutual Wild Series visit www.wildseries.co.za