Nedbank Running club athlete Eric Ngubane made the green dream team proud on Saturday when he took victory in the tough Lesotho Trail ultra-marathon that took place in and around the Maluti mountains.
Serving as the “veins” of this region, an intricate network of trails exists along the valleys and mountain flanks, connecting many of the remote villages. Used primarily by livestock and shepherds, many of the mountain passes have been established by hand, allowing people and animals to pass through the Maluti Mountain Range on foot. Add to that the very high altitude 3000m above sea level and it just goes to show how tough this race is.
After winning the 2016 edition by only 16 secs, Ngubane conditioned himself for this year’s event by doing his long runs at midday to face the heat and make them a lot tougher. “Being from Durban I am not used to this altitude and with the warm sun it makes it even tougher so in training I decided to make the conditions tougher so that when I’m in the race I know that feeling very well,” said Ngubane. From the start the local Lesotho athletes took it out hard but Ngubane let them go, knowing that he would reel them in. “I knew the Lesotho guys would start very fast, but I also knew that when we get to the very big hill at 18km, that I would catch them because they would be walking it.” The big hill came and just as Ngubane had envisioned, the Lesotho athletes faltered and Ngubane took charge of the race.
From that point on it was a one-man race and Ngubane never looked back. “Once I passed them I didn’t want to push too hard as I just worked on maintaining my pace due to the weather. In 2016 I pushed too hard and almost wanted to stop so I didn’t want to make the same error again.” Even if he had faltered towards the end, Ngubane was so far ahead that it would have taken a miracle for him to not cross the line 1st. Ngubane entered the Maliba Lodge with a smile on his face and hands in the air crossing the line victorious after 5hours 38minutes, just over 6mins slower than his 2016 victory. What made this victory even sweeter was the fact that 2nd place athlete Chris Biley crossed the line a massive 52 minutes behind Ngubane. This is the biggest margin of victory in the races history.
Will Ngubane be back next year to make it 3 wins? “Right now my legs and body are too sore to think about next year but I will take some well-deserved rest now and then plan for what I want to do in 2019.”