Nyedimane still king of the trail

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Chabeli Nyedimane PHOTO: MORGAN PIEK

Three facts were evident at the second leg of the 2017 Castle Lite trail run league which was staged at Brandkop Conservancy in Bloemfontein on Saturday.

One… The 2016 league champion in the open men’s division, Chabeli Nyedimane, is not going to be dethroned from the league title he won last year without a fight.

Two… Tyler Beling is on a vengeance to take over the unofficial title as the best short distance trail runner among the fairer sex in the City of Roses from her training partner, Paulina Njeya. Njeya won the Castle Lite league series last year.

And, three… The Castle Lite trail running league, presented by Bloemfontein Courant, is turning into one of the most enjoyable, popular and best organised running events in Bloemfontein.

Nyedimane, who won the first Castle Lite league race with the greatest of ease at Happy Valley a few weeks ago, duplicated the feat on Saturday. Unlike at Happy Valley, where he followed second placed Anastacius Ontong over the first half of the race, he went out at Brandkop with an attitude which could be translated to something like, “if you want to beat me, you will have to stick with me”.

After halfway of the approximately 10-km event, Ontong, who ran only his second trail run, was still on Nyedimane’s shoulder. But, then Nyedimane threw down the gauntlet and there was no stopping him until he broke the tape in 31:55.

Ontong claimed the second spot in 32:42 to finish quite comfortably ahead of third placed Wilfred Leeuw (34:14).

Beling, a matriculant from the Fichardt Park High School, in turn had no time for waiting games. She chased some of the leading men from the onset and finished in a magnificent 37:30. This was not only three minutes and fifteen seconds ahead of Njeya – she finished sixth overall, men included.

Credit must, however, go to Njeya who is still very competitive at her age and this after a long and prestigious career. Njeya, who turns 40 in November is the current Free State record holder in the marathon (42,2 km, 2:42) and was a former top ten finisher (6th and first SA athlete) at the Two Oceans ultra-marathon.

Back to the popularity of the Castle Lite trail league. More than 20 athletes from the Afrikaans Hoër Meisieskool in Pretoria, who were on a cross-country training camp in Bloemfontein during the week, finished their camp by running the 5-km race at Brandkop. The majority of them remarked on how enjoyable the race was and how they could not wait for a next time to join in the fun. Courant also received several messages of thanks for its hospitality, as well as numerous social media comments.  – RUFUS BOTHA