SA juniors to race at Skyrunning Youth World Champs in Italy

Chris Strydom during the 4Peaks at Moolmanshoek in the Eastern Free State. PHOTO: CRAIG KOLESKY / NIKON / LEXAR

It is with great excitement that the South African Skyrunning Association (SASA), in partnership with Sportrax, can announce the selection of two of South Africa’s best up-and-coming trail runners, Chris Strydom and Hayley Preen, to compete at the Skyrunning Youth World Championships 2016 at the 21.6km Gran Sasso Skyrace® in Italy on 31 July.

Strydom (19) and Preen (18), who will be racing in the 18-20 age group and the 16-18 age group respectively, will be competing against some of the fastest and most technically competent junior trail runners in the world. The course will be challenging, with more than 2 200m of vertical gain on the Gran Sasso mountain, set in the Gran Sasso e Monti della Laga National Park in the Abruzzo region of central Italy.

Both Strydom and Preen are fast securing their names in South Africa’s trail running scene with impressive achievements and race times. In February Strydom won the 30km Bat Run, and just a month later achieved a remarkable top six finish in this year’s long distance trail championships at the Drakensberg Northern Trail SkyMarathon® against an extremely competitive field.

Preen, who honed her trail running skills on the various Cape-based short-course trail series races over the past few years, is having an action-packed year so far. Having become a Salomon ambassador in April, she attended the Salomon Youth Academy in Garmisch-Partenkirchen in Germany in May, and will be competing in the 25km Kilian’s Classik in Font Romeu, France on 2 July, just three weeks before the Skyrunning Youth World Championships.

Both athletes are still studying – Strydom is a first year student at the University of Stellenbosch, and Preen will be writing matric this year.

Sportrax is a live GPS tracking web application that enables the e-following of athletes in real time during races that are inaccessible to spectators. Sportrax will be tracking the Gran Sasso Skyrace® so friends, fans and family will be able to follow Strydom and Preen live during the race.

SASA chairman James Hallett says SASA is excited to be working with Sportrax in sending these two young athletes to compete in the Skyrunning Youth World Championships 2016 in July.

“As the sport continues to grow in interest, particularly amongst the South African trail running community through the annual Skyrunner® Series, youth and underprivileged runners remain core to SASA’s on-going objective of expanding the sport locally. Through this unique opportunity presented by the Federazione Italiana Skyrunning, South Africa will once again be represented at an international level in 2016.”