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The opening race of the Trail Series® Super League 2023, in partnership with WWF South Africa, didn’t disappoint.  But there was definitely a collective sigh of relief when the sun dipped down behind Table Mountain’s Nursery Buttress, and cast its long shadow over Kirstenbosch Gardens and the TSSL race village  - and wow what an evening it made for this exclusive race around these most treasured gardens and surrounding mountain estate.  

Billed as a sunset run meant that those fast enough could race without a supporting light to shine the way, but those making the most of it needed a Petzl headlamp or similar to catch the reflective trail markers guiding the way forward! Running through the gardens in the dying light, under huge tree ferns and towering forest canopies is a truly rewarding experience.

Katjiri defends 

As the gates closed to the public, the XL runners were first out of the blocks on their relatively short 14km.  A trio of elites made up of defending 2022 Super League Champion Wano Katjiri, Iain Peterkin and Joshua Blackshaw quickly set a blistering pace.  At the 10km mark Katjiri had a 15 second lead on Peterkin, with Blackshaw following on not far behind.  The final loop wasn’t enough for Peterkin to catch Katjiri, who romped home in 1:04:35 - 37 seconds clear of second place Peterkin.  The course record still stands, set by Llewellyn Groeneveld of 1:01:37 in 2022.

The ladies race in the XL was won by Emily Djock in 1:19:57, which also saw her break into the top 10 AND better her time from 2022 by just under 3 minutes!  Second place was Mila Gendenhuys in 1:20:44.  The course record of 1:16:23 set by Leanda du Bruyn in 2020 still stands.

Notable top 20 performances in the XL League categories included a 1:15:52 5th place overall finish for Veteran athlete Pete Calitz; and a 1:23:00 16th place overall time for Master athlete Trevor Jacobs.

Keeling owns the show

Brandon Keeling was simply on fire in the 10km long course race, totally dominating his competition with a 43:42 winning time and over a five minute margin on second and third.  Keeling’s consistency is remarkable, with just 21 seconds being the difference between his 2022 time of 43:21 and his winning time this year.  Siviwe Nkombi’s course record of 39:38, set in 2020, still remains untouched.

The battle for second, third and fourth was a 27 second affair however, with Warren Black stealing the second step from Wilson Finley by a relatively comfortable 23 seconds, and leaving Gus Farara just 4 seconds off making the podium.

Joanne Golding ruled the ladies race with a 13th overall and a winning time of 55:36.  In second place was Renee Cheary in 59:42.

Notable top 20 performances in the Long League categories included a 52:34 7th place finish overall for Veteran athlete Daniel Jubert.

A junior rules the roost

Junior athlete James Lyster (pictured) claimed his first win in the Super League 5.2km short course, in a time of 26:06; a mere 8 seconds ahead of second place Ashraf Moosa. This is the second year in a row that Moosa has had to accept second place, despite improving his time by over a minute and twenty seconds from 2022 to 2023!.  Minimee category (11-14yrs) athlete Zackery Day claimed the last step on the podium by a mere 4 seconds from fellow minimee CG Volschenk, finishing in 27:45 and 27:49 respectively.  

Morgan Volkmann won the ladies race in 32:08 and notable top 20 performances in the Short League categories included a top 10 finish for Peewee category runners (6-10yrs) Griffin Volkmann with a 29:38 (7th) and Oliver Tait 29:58 (10th).  Also breaking into the top 20 were Master athletes Shabeer Ebrahim with a 30:23 (11th) and Gordon Spenceley in 32:31 (15th).

Race results: TSSL23 Race 1 Kirstenbosch Results

Next up, Ida’s Valley

After pioneering the Ida’s Valley Nature Area’s first trail race in 2022, we are returning to this very special area for the second TSSL race in 2023.  

On offer is a 7.6km short, 13.5km long and a 21.5km XL race course.

For details and to enter: Race 2 Ida's Valley info and entry

A huge thank you to Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens for hosting us again, and to our partners WWF South Africa, Elemental Outdoor, Keep Moving Socks, Steenberg, Petzl, Bluewater Africa and Finish Time for their continuing support. 

Please like, follow & share the stories & fantastic photos on our social media pages with the hashtag #TSSL23

Nature is at the very core of why trail running is so incredibly inspiring.  Every trail is different, every experience unique.  For the last 15 years, the Trail Series® has been connecting people with nature, inspiring children and adults alike to get out and be challenged in this wonderful sport of trail running.

Along the way these events have been at the leading edge of establishing sound environmental practices, working hard to ensure that collectively, the events have as soft a touch on the planet as possible.  From cupless aid stations, to designing reusable signage; from drastically reducing our use of single use plastics, to producing recyclable medals.  “We have worked hard to leave as little footprint as possible in the execution of the Trail Series® events.  Not for any reason other than, we can do what we can to make a difference” says Owen Middleton, founder & events director of the Trail Series®.

And so it is with great excitement that the Trail Series® proudly announces a partnership with WWF South Africa for the 2023 Trail Series® Super League.  It’s a partnership rooted in recognising the value and inspiration of the incredible biodiversity that surrounds us, and the need to work together to inspire positive change.

“WWF South Africa’s mission is to champion the earth's capacity to provide a source of inspiration, sustainable food, water and clean energy for all. We celebrate and respect diversity in nature and among the people, partners, and communities with whom we work. The amazing venues hosting the trail series connect beautifully with important parts of our work, including freshwater stewardship, marine protected area management, wine conservation champions and securing the unique Cape Fynbos biome ” Justin Smith, Head of Business Development

The 2023 Trail Series® Super League will consist of six race days spread out between January and November.  Each race day is at a unique trail running venue in and around the greater Cape Town, Winelands and Overstrand areas.  Each race counts towards the overall Super League, with the highest points scorer securing the TSSL League title.  There are various age categories ranging from the 6-10 year old ‘Peewee’ runners up to the Masters.  The more races you do the better you score, the higher up the rankings you will be.  So in short, consistency is the key. 

We kick off the first race in the magnificent Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens on 20 January 2023, a Friday evening special!  For info and to enter head to https://www.trailseries.co.za/events/trail-series-super-league/kirstenbosch