The Bayport Phoenix Edition Trail Run traverses the fire-scorched Featherbed Nature Reserve
Each year a select group of multisport enthusiasts take on the elements and immerse themselves in the natural beauty of Knysna and surrounds by taking on the Ultimate Multisport Challenge during the Pick n Pay Knysna Oyster Festival – the Maserati BIG5 Challenge.
With 100% of the well-known Featherbed Trail Run routes affected by the fires, safety and environmental concerns forced the event hosts and organisers to find an alternative course and format. With the event being in its tenth year organisers always planned to do something special and the new concept that participants ran today honoured the town’s amazing fighting spirit. The route changed, the timing changed and the logistics changed; but that unique Knysna-feeling the trail run is famous for was stronger than ever as almost 700 runners lined up on the beach for the 21km, 15km and 11km races.
The new route started on the beach in Buffles Bay and took runners along the rocky shoreline and the beach towards Brenton-on-Sea where the long and short routes split. Runners had a short jaunt in the fire-damaged area before popping out on the old railway line to finish back at the Cruise Café in Knysna.
Keegan Cooke again took the top step of the podium for the 15km race with Michael Cannon in hot pursuit only two-and-a-half minutes behind. Bradley Weiss still leads the overall Maserati BIG5 standings with Keegan only 23 minutes behind before the 32km MTB X on Thursday and the 21km Knysna Forest Half Marathon on Saturday. Keegan had this to say, “the route was really tough, we were lucky that the sand was hard. It was pretty hot out there as well. I am hoping to stay in contention with MTB X and then put in a good run on Saturday.”
In the Women’s Category Vicky van der Merwe took line honours and now lies third overall. “It was an amazing run, I am just very sad to see all of the fire damage. It is still beautiful and the views are amazing, I think the organisers did a really good job of creating a new route. I really have to maximize my running so I am looking forward to Saturday and make up time for the MTB X on Thursday.” Fienie Barnard still holds the overall Maserati BIG5 Challenge lead in the category and will be looking for a strong MTB X event on Thursday to keep the field at bay.
Local hero Melikaya Nsizi took the win in the exceptionally challenging 21km distance with Shaun Gregory and Marsel Roos in second and third respectively.
To support the community that’s played host to this event for the last eight years the Maserati BIG5 Challenge will be raising funds for #KnysnaRises through the big5fundracing.co.za platform. To help them help rebuild Knysna after devastating fires earlier this month pick a participant and pledge your support!
Columbia Sportswear is a proud sponsor of the Big5 Challenge and is running the Unite 4 Knysna Campaign in conjunction with the prestige event. In the brands commitment of being tough and tested against all odds, they stand shoulder to shoulder with the community of Knysna and the surrounding areas, and pledge 10% of all purchases at the Columbia SA BIG 5 Challenge Store at the event and online at http://www.columbiasportswear.co.za to the Knysna Rotary Fire Relief Fund.
For more detail on the Maserati BIG5 Challenge, and to enter visit http://www.big5sportchallenge.com or follow them on twitter @big5challenge or Facebook/Big5SportChallenge.
OVERALL STANDINGS: MASERATI BIG5 CHALLENGE
1st Bradley Weiss 4:48.13
2nd Keegan Cooke 5:11.34
3rd Michael Sparrow 5:27.06
1st Fienie Barnard 5:39.20
2nd Kate Dodds 5:41.38
3rd Vicky van der Merwe 5:46.04
RESULTS: BAYPORT PHOENIX TRAIL RUN 15KM
1st Keegan Cooke 1:09.56
2nd Michael Cannon 1:12.36
3rd Andries Aucamp 1:21.24
1st Vicky van der Merwe 1:19.44
2nd Kate Dodds 1:23.53
3rd Fienie Bardnard 1:26.33