Not even a hat trick of excellent victories by Free State marathon (42,2km) record holder, Paulina Njeya, at the third Castle Lite trail running series, which was staged on Saturday at Brandkop in Bloemfontein, could attract more attention than the blind Bloemfontein athlete, Danie Breitenbach, completing the 5km race over a tricky up and down, tough and slippery course.
Breitenbach, an international athlete for sportsmen with physical disabilities, is a completely blind athlete who loves a challenge. He decided to run the mentioned race with his training partner, Barry Williams, as his guide and they finished among the top-10 with a time of 25:30.
One of the race organisers, Adrian Saffy, told Voice that he believes Breitenbach is the first completely blind athlete to complete a trail run in South Africa. If there is someone who would know, it is Saffy. He runs trail runs all over the globe.
Njeya was at her best on Saturday and won the 10km in a fast 44:10. In the process, she beat the hotshot multisport junior athlete, Jayme-Sue Vermaas (45:58), comfortably. Vermaas used the race as a training session for the world junior triathlon championships in Mexico in September.
Njeya reigned supreme at the first and second legs of the Castle Lite series and if she opts to take part in the remaining three events, it should be the proverbial walk in the park for her to clinch all six events of the series.
The 10km race for men saw Chabeli Nyedimane score his second consecutive win of the series in 34:52. The junior, Louis Botha (36:27), crossed the line in second place, while the winner of the first race of the series, Sampi Morapedi, finished third. Considering his age (48), Morapedi was one of the star performers on Saturday.
Richard Moeti was first in the 5km and Samantha Pelzer, who is improving by leaps and bounds, was the first woman to cross the finish line in the same event. She started running longer distances less than a year ago.
No less than 260 athletes took part on Saturday. The next (fourth) event of the series will take place on 16 September at the Botanical Gardens in Bloemfontein and will be the only evening event of the series.
All races start at 18:00. – RUFUS BOTHA