Tough trials on the Odyssey trails

10 January 2008

Alas, UCT's William Robinson and teammate Dion Middelkoop of the Montrail/Capestorm team could not defend their Cape Odyssey title, finishing third overall in the five-day, 200km trail-running race from Hermanus to Stellenbosch, staged over 8-12 October.

Not that the team did poorly, mind you.

Robinson and Middelkoop, who won the inaugural race last year, finished just 22 minutes behind winners, brothers Jacques and Mauritz Jansen van Rensburg, in a time of 17:09:09. One of only three teams really jostling for the lead – 150 teams of two runners signed up – the duo finished second in stage one, third in stages two and three, and, surging strongly, won the final two stages.

But after trailing by some 35 minutes after day three, the gap between them and the leading teams was just a bridge too far.

The wins on the final two days were pleasing though, says Robinson.

"The other two teams raced each other really hard over the first few days, while we took the early stages quite easy. So I think we were a lot fresher at the end."

Also, Robinson and Middelkoop negotiated the very-technical stage four, involving a long and rough single track, better than their rivals. They took back some 11 minutes on that day.

But the two may have to rethink their strategy for 2009. While Robinson and Middelkoop both had long hard seasons under their belts by the time they started the Odyssey, the other two teams appeared to have prepared specifically for the Cape Odyssey.

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