Local trailrunner Brian Bannatyne is an endurance athlete of note. At 60 years old he can at last call himself a 100-miler, a hard-earned accolade that he achieved on his fifth attempt at the distance. His persistance finally paid off.
Completing a 100 mile foot race is a test of endurance for any athlete. The 160km trail, in muddy single tracks winding up and down hillsides, through forests, and across streams, is a challenge for any athlete. With the addition of lightning, hail, rain, fog, and winds strong enough to blow trees over, the conditions on the Karkloof 100 miler held near Howick in KZN over the recent long weekend were even more difficult to overcome.
.“I have tried four previous times to get this right,” said a jubilant Bannatyne. “Three times at the local Addo 100-miler, and last year at Karkloof. The problem is not my fitness, but rather with the fact that it takes more than 30 hours to cover the distance. I simply can’t stay awake that long.”
Karkloof is the only South African 100 mile trail run that permits USA-style pacing, whereby a pacer can run with the racer during the second half of the race. “My wife Laura paced me the last 50-odd km this time, and that made all the difference” explained Bannatyne. “When I began sleeping on my feet a few kilometres before the last checkpoint she helped me keep going, (actually she nagged me terribly) and then made sure I had some soup and a 30 minute sleep at the checkpoint. When I woke up I felt so much better that she actually couldn’t keep up with me at the end,” said Bannatyne.
Bannatyne finished the Karkloof 100 mile trail run with about half an hour in hand before the 36-hour cut-off, at last recieving his coveted 100 mile belt-buckle. But that’s not the end of the trail for him. “I’ll be entering the Addo 100 miler in March next year,” said Bannatyne. “I’m sure I’ll finish it this time.”