Modern Athlete Magazine Issue 141, May 2021 May 2021 | Page 12

Ann and David Ashworth ran the UTD 100km together , with both making their 100km and ultra trail debuts

Winning Drakensberg Debut

With 20km to go in the 108km Ultra-Trail Drakensberg ( UTD ), former Comrades Marathon winner Ann Ashworth was leading the women ’ s race – much to her surprise , given that she and husband David were running their first ever technical trail race , and also doing their first ever 100km – but she had been told by her seconding team that her lead over the second-placed woman was coming down , and she would need to keep pushing if she wanted to take the win . Then her worst fear came true .

“ We had originally just gone out for the experience , but when I found out I was leading the women ’ s race , I asked my seconds to measure the gap to second . I was told it was 14 minutes at the first checkpoint , then it was up to 26 minutes at the second checkpoint , but at the third-last water station I heard that the gap had come down again ,” says Ann . “ Then , with 20km to , a woman came flying past me – she made me look like I was sight-seeing – and I thought , now I have really been schooled in trail running ! Then a second woman went past me . I was mortified , so I turned to David and said we need to stop messing around and pick up
the pace . He was less talkative by then , and said he ’ d rather not think about the distance we had left .”
The UTD100 , as it is known , includes 4158m of vertical ascent at altitudes varying from 1600m above sea level to 2865m . The start is particularly brutal , running 8km up the Sani Pass dirt road climbing to the Lesotho border post , with an ascent of 1000m in that first climb ! Unsurprisingly , Ann says it proved to be a longer , harder day than even she had expected . “ I ran too fast on the first climb from the start , up Sani Pass , and suffered a bout of altitude sickness – I felt woozy
Images : Action Photo SA & Cuan Walker
12 ISSUE 141 MAY 2021 / www . modernathlete . co . za