Modern Athlete Magazine Issue 166 March 2024 | Page 58


GIVING BACK to the Garden Route

The Mountain Ultra Trail by Ultra-trail Mont Blanc , or MUT by UTMB , is firmly rooted in the George community , and continues to support the region ’ s trail building and maintenance programmes . – BY SEAMUS ALLARDICE with SEAN FALCONER

The MUT is quickly growing into one of the must-do events on the SA trail running calendar . In 2023 , it became the first African race to be included in the UTMB World Series , which saw qualifying slots up for grabs for the prestigious UTMB event in France . This attracted some of the country ’ s top runners to sign up to race in the tough Outeniqua Mountains , while the spread of distances on offer , from the 10km MUT Lite to the 160km MUT Miler , meant that runners of all abilities and levels of experience could participate .

“ GTR , as Garden Route Trail Running is more colloquially known , is the lifeblood of trail running in George and the surrounding towns ,” says MUT by UTMB Race Director , Zane Schmahl . “ They look after over 400 kilometres of hiking trails , thereby ensuring that local and visiting trail runners have safe and fun singletracks to run . Their impact extends far beyond MUT and the trails we use during the race , but as the region ’ s biggest event , we know we have a responsibility to help fund their invaluable work .”
“ Last year we raised R101,000 through our For the Trails initiative , and added another R6685 through the Green Friday entry sales campaign ,” continues Zane . “ We topped it up to R110,000 in total , and also contributed our time to trail building and maintenance days . As a race that is deeply rooted in the George trail running community , we love to run in the Outeniqua Mountains year-round . The inspiration for MUT by UTMB was the trails we run on a near daily basis , and maintaining them throughout the year is a labour of love .”
However , this event is about so much more than just the running on race weekend in May , as the event has raised , and continues to raise funds for Garden Route Trail Running ( GTR ), a grassroots trail building and maintenance initiative . This organisation received R110,000 from the event in 2023 , and will receive a further R125,000 in 2024 !
The MUT by UTMB attracted top names in 2023 , including Ryan Sandes .
The GTR Trail Troopers do amazing work keeping the trails runnable all year round .
Images : Zane Schmahl , Jared Paisely , Simon Pocock
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