The Giant's Cup Media Release

 No: tgc1704

 19 May 2017

Embargo: None

Written by: Dave Macleod


Fairytale start to Giant’s Cup for local hero Madlala

Underberg – Local wildlife ranger Thabo Madlala took a massive step towards realising his dream of winning the two-day Giants Cup trail run by winning the first leg of the race in pristine conditions on Friday.

The 35 year old who works as an Endangered Wildlife Trust ranger in the Maloti Drakensberg Park has come close before, with a third and fourth place to his credit, but the Himeville local set out to stamp his authority on the 2017 edition of this unique event.

After completing the first seven kilometres of the stage in a group of three that included the women's race favourite Su Don-Wauchope, Madlala lengthened his stride and was soon leading the race alone as they descended the Gxalingenwa Trail beneath the snow-capped Drakensberg mountains.

"I know the trail well because I train and work here," said Madlala. "The way that the paths were prepared for this race was absolutely fantastic."

The conservationist, who works on the African Crane Conservation Programme, was thrilled to spot a committee of Bearded Vultures during the run.

"I have always dreamt about winning this race. Maybe tomorrow it will come true," he said.

The main beneficiary of The Giant’s Cup is the Southern Drakensberg branch of Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, which is based at Cobham Nature Reserve.

Fifteen minutes behind Madlala, the leading woman Su Don-Wauchope, on the comeback after her serious ankle injury, was able to soak up the superb scenery and weather on the 32km trip from Sani Pass hotel to Castleburn Farm.

"Beautiful trails, wide open spaces, fantastic views and super weather, some chilly river crossings, it all made for the most amazing day out there today," said Don-Wauchope.

"I ran for the first time here last year and it was misty. Today I kept stopping to take in the beautiful scenery, the snow-capped mountains, the winter colours of the grass and it was absolutely awesome," she added.

"Because we were running on such beautifully prepared paths, you can actually afford to look around and not risk falling on your face!" she said. "At one spot we found a herd of Eland grazing, which was amazing to see."

The two pace-setters were well clear of the rest of the field, followed home by Travis Green, Paul Mitchell and Robin Parfitt in a close tussle for the last step on the podium, all feeling the after effects of the distance and the deceptive amount of climbing.

The rest of the small, closed field made the most of the sublime weather and scenery as they completed the 32km on the Giants Cup hiking trail, using much of the trail that had been prepared for the recent Ultra Trail Drakensberg.

The second and final day of the race is a 30km stretch along days four and five of the Giant's Cup trail and will see the athletes run from Castleburn to the Bushman's Nek resort.

SUMMARY OF RESULTS
THE GIANTS CUP 2017 Stage 1 32km
OVERALL
1.Thabo Madlala 3:49:00
2.Su Don-Wauchope 4:03:49
3.Travis Green 4:26:34
4.Paul Mitchell 4:27:17
5.Robin Parfett 4:28:30

More information can be found at www.thegiantscup.co.za

ENDS

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  Race leader Thabo Madlala on the first stage of the 2017 Giant's Cup on Friday 19 May. Anthony Grote /
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race leader Thabo Madlala on the first stage of the 2017 Giant's Cup on Friday 19 May. Greg Labuschagne /
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Race leader Thabo Madlala wades across the Umzimkhulwana River close to the finish of the first stage of the 2017 Giant's Cup on Friday 19 May. Dave Macleod /
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Women's race leader Su Don-Wauchope on the first stage of the 2017 Giant's Cup on Friday 19 May. Anthony Grote /
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Women's race leader Su Don-Wauchope at the end of the first stage of the 2017 Giant's Cup on Friday 19 May. Greg Labuschagne /
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Runners enjoyed the fabled Gxalingenwa Trail in superb conditions on the first stage of the 2017 Giant's Cup on Friday 19 May. Anthony Grote /
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The 32km first stage of the 2017 Giant's Cup on Friday 19 May was held in magnificent weather conditions. Anthony Grote /
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Two runners on the first stage of the 2017 Giant's Cup are reflected in a dam. Anthony Grote /
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The laid-back vibe of the 2017 Giant's Cup lent itself to trail runners taking time to enjoy the views of the Maloti Drakensberg park. Anthony Grote /
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Runners were treated to snow-capped mountains on the first stage of the 2017 Giant's Cup on Friday 19 May. Anthony Grote /
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The runners leave a frosty Sani Pass hotel at the start of the first stage of the 2017 Giant's Cup on Friday 19 May. Greg Labuschagne /
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The field took full advantage of the paths of the Giants Cup Hiking Trail on the first stage of the 2017 Giant's Cup on Friday 19 May. Greg Labuschagne /
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Nicole Faul and Marlize du Toit descend towards the finish of the first stage of the 2017 Giant's Cup on Friday 19 May. Greg Labuschagne /
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