Madiba – the King of the 4 Peaks

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Tara-Lea van Zyl of Bloemfontein at the top of Sikonyela's Hat, the first climb on the reverse route and also the highest peak of the race. PHOTO: LLEWELLYN LLOYD/ REBLEX PHOTOGRAPHY

Thabang Madiba has claimed the title of King of the 4Peaks after winning the 2019 Trappers 4Peaks Mountain Challenge, presented by Bloemfontein Courant at the picturesque Moolmanshoek Private Nature Reserve in the Eastern Free State for a third straight year.

Madiba, who is the only man to have won the forward race and the reverse, was made to work exceptionally hard with a sprint finish to edge his good friend and former SkyRun champion, Lucky Miya, by just a second.

Madiba completed the gruelling 24-km route in a time of 2:55:09, while Miya finished hot on his heels. Simon Tshabalala completed the podium in a very respectable time of 2:58:48.

The ever-smiling Madiba conceded that Miya made life difficult for him and relished the victory over the man he considers to be a brother.

“The4 Peaks has become a tradition for us to do and it was so fantastic to be able to run it all the way to the end with my good friend, Lucky.

“I really don’t like racing him as he is more of a brother to me, but someone has to win it.”
The women’s race was another thrilling affair and this year it was the 2018 runner-up, Tara-Lea van Zyl, who claimed the title of Queen of the Mountains. Van Zyl won the race in 4:16:34 to beat her fellow Bloemfonteiner, Martie Botes, by over three minutes. Botes also made light work of the route to claim the silver in 4:19:36. The Cape Town-based Meghan West claimed the bronze in 4:32:16.

Following her maiden win, and one expects that there may be many more, Van Zyl said that the warmer conditions made the 4Peaks even tougher this year.

“The 4 Peaks, in my opinion, is the toughest mountain race in South Africa, despite it only being 24km, and with it being so dry the last few months it made the going even more brutal this year.

“I had a great race with a bit of tumbling and bundu-bashing, and managed to finish with my best result to date of 12th overall and first lady. The heat definitely played a big role in the slower times today, but it still is one of the best races South Africa has to offer.”

On a sad note, tragedy struck the 4Peaks this year with one of the athletes passing away on the route. Philip de Wet collapsed just a kilometre short of the finish line and despite the best efforts by the emergency medical responders, they were unfortunately unable to revive him.

Rest in Peace, Phillip. – MORGAN PIEK