Modern Athlete Magazine Issue 169 June 2024 | Page 40

Ryan Sandes takes the Marathon win at the 2024 MUT by UTMB in George

Up for the Challenge

Ryan Sandes is rightfully considered a legend of South African trail running , thanks to his many race wins and epic challenges over the last 16 years . While he is definitely better known for running ultra-distances , he can still hold his own over shorter distances , as he proved recently , but now he ’ s thinking of tackling even longer racing distances in the near future . However , first he has unfinished business with the Ultra-trail Month Blanc ( UTMB ) in France . – BY SEAN FALCONER

In late May , the Mountain Ultra Trail ( MUT ) by UTMB took place near George , in the Southern Cape , with six distances on offer ( 100 miles , 100km , 60km , 43km , 24km and 11km ). Last year ’ s 100-miler men ’ s winner was Ryan Sandes , who spent a fair amount of time training in the Outeniqua Mountains to prepare thoroughly for the event , but this year , with other main racing targets on the global trail running calendar his priority , he opted for the MUT Marathon 43km event .

Running for the cause with wife Vanessa at the Wings for Life World Run in Cape Town
As an ultra-runner , some may think that Sandes is perhaps better known for his endurance than his speed , but he dispelled the pre-race notion that he may struggle to match the speed of athletes like Robert Rorich and Iain Peterkin . Timing his assault on the lead to perfection , Sandes conserved his energy for the second half of the course , then used his technical trail running skills , experience and racing nous to take the lead and break clear of his rivals .
Sandes went on to win the race in four hours and 12 minutes exactly , to post a comfortable win over Rorich ( 4:30:37 ) and Peterkin ( 4:32:20 ). He says the considerably shorter distance really helped , both physically and mentally : “ I remember how broken I was in the final kilometres last year , coming through Tonnelbos in the Miler . This year I was able to push through there , knowing I only had 30 kilometres in my legs , rather than 150 !”
Images : Craig Kolesky / Red Bull Content Pool & courtesy Ryan Sandes
40 ISSUE 169 | www . modernathlete . co . za