Seven Tales from Molweni 2016

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featured Molweni Trail 2016 Tarryn Lopez by Anthony Grote t20
Sizwe, one of the Molweni trail builders, got inspired and created this rock sign along the course. photo Anthony Grote
Sizwe, one of the Molweni trail builders, got inspired and created this rock sign along the course. photo Anthony Grote

The Molweni Trail Run finishers of 2016 have stories to tell, and here they are.

Near miss, to great success

Muzi chasing Lonwabo Magwa (fifth man) up one of many gnarly climbs. photo Anthony Grote
Muzi chasing Lonwabo Magwa (fifth man) up one of many gnarly climbs. photo Anthony Grote

After two hours and 47 minutes, the first athlete crossed the mats below the Salomon arch. His name is Muzi Madikwa. Muzi is an absolute blitz on the road, with wins like Umgeni Water Marathon (2016) and Eskort Cavanagh 52km (2015) on his CV, a 6h30min Comrades in 2010, and a 31min05sec 10km at Maritzburg City Marathon in 2016. That’s 19.30 km/h! He’s not entirely new to trail, with 2015 wins at KZN Trail Running events such as Faulklands, Hilton College, Maweni, and Table Mountain.

“I have run Molweni before. Last year [at the SA Long Distance Trail Championships hosted at Molweni] I came fourth. I chased Nomore [second man] for the first 12km, but then I passed him because I am stronger on the uphills.

“I started running in 2006, and I ran Comrades that year. My first ever trail run was in 2009. It was the 80km Umngeni Trail Run, and I won.

“Some trails I run fast, and some I run slow. The trail running helps my road running.

“Molweni has everything – uphills, downhills – when I run well there, I know I’m in good form.

“I nearly didn’t run this year, but a friend, Vusi Mseleku, helped me with the entry and a lift to the start.”

And boy are we glad that he made it! Hopefully Muzi will become a household name, like previous winners Thabang Madiba and Johardt van Heerden.

Molweni virgin takes the crown

Molweni Trail 2016 Tarryn Lopez by Anthony Grote t20
Tarryn Lopez chasing hard over the grassland above the gorge. photo Anthony Grote

Tarryn Lopez had never run in Krantzkloof before the Molweni Prologue, and yet she went on to take the women’s podium in 3h57min!

“I went over to the States after high school at the age of 19 to study on a running scholarship, and I lived there for 9 years. I ran track and cross-country for my college. Two and a half years ago I returned ti South Africa, and last year I got back into running and doing trail races.

“Molweni was beyond what I expected. I had heard from a few runners about how technical and relentless the climbs were but no matter how prepared you think you are, you don’t know what what you’re up against until you’re in the gorge.

“There was such an amazing atmosphere with the locals. When I was running through the Molweni Township, a group children ran behind me for half a kay, asking my name and cheering me on. There were a few spots in the race where I wasn’t sure if I was on the trail and the locals were all really friendly and reassured me that I was on the right track.

“Trail running is for everyone, from the racing snakes to the novice runners that just want to have fun. There was a group of 16km runners that I passed in the forest in the last 3km. They were having such a fun time climbing the last two hills and just running to enjoy and finish the race. It reminded me that no matter how much I wanted to race and win, it’s so important to immerse yourself in the beauty. Not every sport can offer you that. That’s why I love trail running!

“I’ll definitely be back for Molweni 2017!”

Muzi and Nomore the men's winner and runner up at the end of Molweni Trail Run 2016 photo DeonBraun TRAIL mag
Muzi and Nomore: the men’s winner and runner up at the end of Molweni Trail Run 2016. photo Deon Braun/TRAIL mag

Zim to podium

Nomore Mandivengerei‘s life has taken a long, winding road to this point. All the way from Zimbabwe, Nomore ran his first ever Molweni to place second overall in 2h58min, less than a minute behind the road-rocket winner. Wow!

“I was born on 19 January 1983 in Chinhoyi, rural Zimbabwe. I would run to school and back again to work on the farm. I had to be fast because my father would be angry if I got home late. I ran fast and represented my school at primary athletics meetings. At secondary school I would win races but my father did not allow me to go to competitions on weekends. He passed on 2005 my mother 2006. I did not finish school for financial reasons.

In 2012 I came to South Africa, trying to build a good life. I having been working as a car guard since then. I got interested in some local athletes when I saw them running. I start training 2014 and doing some races, but I wasn’t winning. I wanted to be a top runner. I heard about trail running and started running on trail more than road.

“My friend told me about Molweni in 2015 but it was too late to register. This year I pushed myself to join. I am happy that Salomon gave me this opportunity. I enjoyed this race greatly.

“My big next race is Kruger2Canyon Challenge in June, but I am still planning. I wish to run Molweni every Year, and I hope nothing will stop me.”

Fourth man, Jock Green, has run Molweni three times. Muzi and Nomore really left an impression on him. “The guys that ran first and second started really fast and didn’t slow down!”

Robyn Greyling chased by Alan Phillips at Molweni Trail Run 2016 by Anthony grote
Robyn Greyling chased by Alan Phillips at the prologue. photo Anthony Grote

Shaving off an hour

Robyn Greyling returned to Molweni, taking an hour off her 2015 time! This rocketed her onto the podium in second, in 4h14min.

“Last year’s Molweni was my first ever trail run. I didn’t know then that it was one of the tougher ones… but I was so taken back by the breathtaking scenery that I came back for more!

“I woke on Saturday to a bitter cold morning. I was happy about the weather as the prologue is run at quite a fast pace, and it kept me cool. I was lucky enough to go off early so I missed the rain.

“Sunday’s weather was just perfect and the sun was starting to shine. The race kicked off at 6:35am and I tried my best to catch up to the men. I was running on my own and was worried I would miss some of the markers and get lost. Molweni is a very technical trail so you have to watch your footing at all times. After 11km of solo running I managed to catch up to one of my friends, Alan Phillips, at the first water station. We ran through the Molweni rural settlements together up until about 20km when I left him on one of the steep rocky climbs. My legs were starting to burn slightly as we had done a lot of climbing but I managed to push through the pain.

“I was very happy with my result as I managed to cut an hour off last year’s time. I have been receiving training programmes from my amazing coach Trish Bahlmann. I used to just worry about mileage and not the quality of my running. I now run according to specific paces and include track, speed, and hill sessions into my training. This has really helped with my times and endurance during both road and trail races.

“I thoroughly enjoyed the race and the support from the children in the rural settlements. They really motivated us to keep on pushing on. It was also amazing to have my husband and family along the route and at the finish line.

“I will definitely be back next year to this amazing event.”

Respect well earned

Ivan Jonsson is an avid trail runner, imported from Denmark. His story is not about his Molweni experience, but what he witnessed while there.

“On Sunday morning when I drove to the start line I passed the Engen in Waterfall at 6:05am, heading to the early start for the top guns!

Khanyisile Duze at Molweni Trail run 2016
Khanyisile Duze rehydrating while in the queue for the chiropractic tent.
photo Heloise Hunter/TRAIL magazine

“At the Engen, I spotted a runner in full kit that I recognised from the day before… Anyway how many runners would there be with race packs and extra gear that time on a Sunday morning? Her name was Khanyisile Duze (as a Dane I only had to ask her eight time to get it almost right) and yes she was going to the Molweni Trail Run. There was no way would she ever had made the start on time after walking from the valley and up to the road trying to get there.

“When leaving after prize-giving I noted again that she was hovering at the parking lot. I assumed that she had been unable to make arrangements for a lift home, so I offered.

“I was stunned while talking to her in the car. While I was on my way home for an afternoon snooze with dinner and a glass of wine, she asked to be dropped on the side of the road so she could get directly to work for her 6pm-6am shift as a security guard at Hillcrest Hospital. It was 15.30, and taxis are far between on a Sunday afternoon in the Upper Highway area.

“Wow. I was impressed. She really put in a lot to get to take part in this event… She must have found time to train too, finishing as the fourth woman on the 32km course and just missing out on the podium. RESPECT!

A bit of red, lots of green

Molweni Spurgeon Flemington cut hand blood by Anthony Grote t20
Spurgeon’s hand had taken a beating, with a broken middle finger a few days before, and then a slice at Molweni. photo Anthony Grote

Spurgeon Flemington, the organiser of Giant’s Cup Trail Run and Giant’s Cup Uncut, enjoyed himself thoroughly on the course, despite a slip, a slash, and some blood. It was the mountain man’s first time in Krantzkloof, and showed him that a gorge on the coast can be even tougher than the Drakensberg.

“I did my first Molweni on Sunday and what a treat to explore this little jewel of a valley nestled so unexpectedly in Durban.

“The trails through the forest are sublime but the terrain is technical, and the climbs are brutal so this is definitely a run with an even balance of carrot and stick.

“I managed to slash my hand on a stray piece of glass 10km from the end but this didn’t detract from the tough and rewarding day.

“From one race organiser to another, well done to Graham and his crew for an excellent event.”

Hunting from the rear

Dan Marland van Hemert started trail running in late 2015, and Molweni was his first real race.

“I started doing trail runs as additional practice for SAOCR events. My sporting calendar has filled up with both traits and has kicked Golf out of bounds. The only use I have now for golf balls, is to roll my soles on them. And you need a lot of soul to want to go back and run Molweni again. I’d probably follow Dewald Van Wyk’s strategy and do it just for the Salomon finishers jacket. This race is definitely a value for money event.

“The race profile showed three crazy slopes with stupid elevation gain/loss parameters.

Molweni Dan Marland van Hemert t20
Dan Marland van Hemert stops the hunt for a quick picture with a marshal. photo Dewald van Wyk

“The morning prologue weather was crappy. The afternoon weather was disastrous. Our minds were similar to the weather pattern, cloudy, foggy and all over the place. We ended up running part of the prologue route twice, taking a detour against better judgement. Together we accept full blame with each one side-eyeing the other for the mistake. We made the cut off by 7 minutes. What a stupid pair we were. (Other OCR family in attendance were Claude Eksteen and Trish Bahlmann, blitzing the course nogal. The hot favourites were ill on race day, and it’s best to rest as the season is long.)

I was miffed with being seeded into batch D and convinced myself it was best to be the hunter. I had earmarked bibs 33, 49, 62, and 67 as my targets. I passed with 75%. They had a 10 minute head start on me once on the route, although our starting times activated only when we crossed the timing mat.

“Other objectives I had were to finish in 5 hours and (always my personal goal) to be top five in my age category. Scored an A+ there.

“I could go on, but I won’t, about the hills. They were technical, hard and achievable. What I will point out is how the community of the Molweni area comes together and gets involved in this race. At race briefing I had my doubts about running partly in the township. Those doubts were for nothing. The running along the river was sublime too.

“When I reached the 20km mark in a little over 2 hours, I was getting sad at how quickly this race was going to be over. Ja right! Nearly another 2 hours to complete the last 10km. Battling climbs and descents, leg cramps and #62 who was a lot closer than I liked, the ending of a great race seemed like an eternity. This is my first real trail race and I will cherish every moment for a long time. Molweni will see me again.”

Read Dan’s full race report here.

Molweni 2016 results

Men’s top 10

Position Athlete Time
1 Muzi Madikwa 02:57:43
2 Nomore Mandivengerei 02:58:28
3 Sibonelo Khwela 03:09:27
4 Jock Green 03:11:56
5 Lonwabo Magwa 03:29:10
6 Steven Erasmus 03:30:28
7 Andrew Erasmus 03:32:59
8 Sphiwe Mjwarha 03:35:35
9 Siswe Mkhize 03:41:49
10 Dillon McEvoy 03:41:54

Women’s top 10

Position Athlete Time
1 Tarryn Lopez 03:57:57
2 Robyn Greyling 04:14:50
3 Jenny Tyers 04:32:46
4 Khanyisile Duze 04:34:22
5 Leoti Morkel 04:56:25
6 Belinda van der Reit 05:01:58
7 Liesl CURTIS 05:17:40
8 Lindsay Mienie 05:25:23
9 Amanda Emmott 05:38:59
10 Peresha Naicker 06:14:32

 

Full results

Molweni website

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2015 race report

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