Photo: Despite the shorter distances, the runners taking part in the Drakensberg Rockjumper were treated to spectacular views of the Southern Drakensberg on day one of their two day race, part of the Ultra-Trail® Drakensberg Festival of trail running from 27-29 April. Credit: Kirsten Oliver/ Gameplan Media.
The 2018 Ultra-Trail® Drakensberg got under way on Friday morning with around 100 runners taking on one of the two race distances in the two day Drakensberg Rock Jumper at the Premier Resort Sani Pass.
This year's UTD will incorporate five different trail running events which include a 100 Miler, 100km race, 62km event and a 30km run as well as the two stage Rockjumper.
The two different distances that runners could chose in the Rockjumper were the longer 21km and 15km course, a combined 36km over the two days. Or the DRJ15/12, which is 15km on day one and 12km on day two.
With the two events getting underway in the shadows of the Southern Drakensberg on Friday in calm and favourable conditions, leading the runners home in the 21/15 race was local runner Ross Treleaven.
"Myself and Ryan ran together for quite a bit during the first half of the race and then I managed to drop him at the top of the first climb," Treleaven said. "He then caught me and passed me at the bottom of the second climb, but I didn't panic because I sort of knew what to expect.
"He was pushing it really hard and he blew half way up the hill so I managed to get past him and maintain a bit of a lead right to the finish."
Getting away from Ebedes meant that Treleaven got himself a strong three minute and 28 second advantage over his rival going into the second and final day, a 15km dice to the line.
"I did the shorter run last year but I know quite a bit about the route and what to expect.
"Today was so beautiful and tomorrow will be much of the same and to be able to take part in a rae like this in such a pretty part of the world is an absolute treat for me!" he added.
Coming home in third in the 21/15 was Adrien Delmas in a time of 2:36:05, just under 10 minutes behind Ebedes in second place.
In the ladies showdown it was Naomi Potgieter who claimed the stage one spoils ahead of Susan Mackenzie in second and Heather Phipson in third place.
The exciting DRJ15/12 saw a significant portion of the field being made up by school children when they tackled the 15km first stage; where it was Roseway Waldorf's Delphinus Sauer who took home the stage one honours.
He was dominant as he completed the stage in 1:22:35, with Maritzburg College's Scott Little coming home in second place just over seven minute behind.
Rounding out the stage one podium in the men's race was Simon D'Aubrey.
It was a clean sweep for Epworth in the women's race as Under 18 Katja Vonkeman cruised home to finish fourth overall ahead of Under 16 Juliette Gloebel in second and right behind her was Lauren Gloebel to round out the podium.
Juliette Gloebel was also the first Under 16 runner home across both the boys and girls race, with Grace College's Jack Mackenzie the second Under 16 and Epworth's Frances Forsyth being the third.
The second and final stage of the Drakensberg Rockjumper will see runners either tackle the longer 15km route or for the shorter distance runners a 12km route awaits them on Saturday.
Friday also saw the start of the historic UTD160 at noon with the runners starting their journey at the Highest Pub in Africa with 100 miles between them and the finish.
SUMMARY OF RESULTS - DRAKENSBERG ROCKJUMPER DAY ONE
1.Ross Treleaven 2:23:12
2.Ryan Ebedes 2:26:40
3.Adrien Dlemas 2:36:05
4.Bon Lehmkuhl 2:51:30
5.Naomi Potgieter 2:55:41
1.Noami Potgieter 2:55:41
2.Susan Mckenzie 2:57:04
3.Heather Phipson 2:59:00
1.Delphinus Sauer (U18) 1:22:35
2.Scott Little (U18) 1:29:42
3.Simon D'Aubrey 1:30:50
4.Katje Vonkeman (U18) 1:31:37
5.Mark Phipson 1:32:51
1.Katje Vonkeman (U18) 1:31:37
2.Juliette Gloebel (U16) 1:38:40
3.Lauren Gloebel (U18) 1:38:42
4.Caryn Phipson (U18) 1:45:13
5.Paige Mackenzie (U18) 1:55:02