Iain + AJCourse Record Smashed and First Black Medals Awarded
On Saturday 13 October 2012, an impressive field of international trail runners gathered on the beach in Natures Valley to tackle the reversed Otter Trail Run course, known this year as the RETTO. As predicted, the highly competitive field kept race organisers and spectators guessing right up to the final stages.

In an all new course record of 4:23:24 KZN runner Iain Don-Wauchope illustrated strength and experience, collecting the first sub-4:30 “Black Medal” with Cape Town runner AJ Calitz taking the second ever “Black Medal” as he finished 4:29:19. Both runners came in under the course record of 4:40:15, previously held by Ryan Sandes. Third was Cape Town runner Greg Goodall in a time of 4:42:18.

In the ladies field, US legend Krissy Moehl from Colorado took first place in a time of 5:24:59. Krissy is the current UTMN record holder. In second place and first veteran lady was South African Jacoline Haasbrook in an impressive 5:27:14. Third lady was Landie Greyling in a time of 5:37:03. Jeannie Dreyer holds the course record of 5:17:12.

A tricky 4km prologue the day prior race divided the competitive field according to their electronically timed results. The men’s “Ambengeni” or challengers, the only men eligible for prizes on the day, included Sebastian Chaigneau of France, local AJ Calitz, Michael Bailey and John Ntuli of the Hi-Tec sponsored Change a Life Academy.

The Otter, known to many as the “Grail of Trail” takes athletes on a relentless and technical route through the Tsitsikama National Park, in the picturesque Garden Route of South Africa. The SANParks Otter Trail is one of South Africa’s premium hikes. With 42km of technical single track through indigenous fynbos and along pristine beaches, an Olympic swim distance across Bloukrans River, at least four 50m drops to rugged rocks, eight “significant climbs” and nearly 3000m of vertical ascent, the Otter is not a challenge taken lightly.

The pre-race briefing by race organiser Mark Collins of Magnetic South was a terrifying wake-up for some, but expected for others. The importance of carrying the right gear and applying common sense and caution was highlighted. Sudden change of weather or flash floods can change the race in an instant. The compulsory gear includes a thermal layer and windbreaker, to prevent hyperthermia. Rescue in a race like the Otter could take up to an hour based on inaccessibility of the route. All runners have to run with mobile phones, but signal is intermittent.