The men’s elite field will definitely produce fireworks and looking at the competitors, a sub-13 hour time could be on the cards should the weather play along.
The 13-time champion, Bruce Arnett, will be on the starting line for a record 19th time on Saturday morning in Lady Grey. He has spent some time in Nepal and is, as always, a contender. By his own admission, he is perhaps not as prepared as he should be, but at 46 years old still feels fit and strong.
The defending champion, Christiaan Greyling, is the man to watch this weekend. He will be gunning for a title defence. Having finally won the 100-km race last year could very well have opened the floodgates for this athlete, who has been racing in Europe this season.
The 2016 runner-up, Lucky Miya, who impressed last year by winning the 4Peaks at Moolmanshoek and then produced fantastic SkyRun results, is a definite dark horse and it would come as no surprise if he reigns supreme late on Saturday afternoon.
As ever, Hylton Dunn is a serious threat at the event and after numerous top-three finishes over the years the St. Andrew's Bloemfontein old boy could cause an upset in 2017. Furthermore, he is a local to the region and understands all the factors perhaps better than anyone else.
Two international runners that will be watched with a keen eye, is Christophe Le Saux of France and the Nepalese runner, Sanga Sherpa. Both are based in France and thus altitude will be no issue for either. Le Saux recently tamed the Amazon jungle with a 153-km crossing in some 33 hours.
The internationals have found the SkyRun quite daunting in the past, however, with Sherpa being an Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc top-10 finisher, he could very well be the first ever international to win the event.
The women’s elite event will also be a thrilling affair and it is expected that the defending champion, Nicolette Griffioen, and multiple winner, Landie Greyling, will go head-to-head for the 2017 title. It has to be said the Griffioen has singled out the SkyRun as her goal race for the season, while Greyling will want to reclaim her title.
Greyling, who is the wife of the men’s champion, Christiaan, also spent time in Europe this season, and wouldn’t it be something if the couple could win the men’s and women’s titles respectively.
The SkyRun Lite (65 km) will feature the former 100-km top three finisher, AJ Calitz. Earlier this year the strong runner, who attended Paul Roos Gymnasium in Stellenbosch, had a serious health issue. While it’s sad not to see Calitz in the mix for the 100-km event, it’s great to see him healthy and back in the mountains and doing what he loves doing.
The registration for the 2017 SkyRun takes place in Lady Grey on Friday morning at 9:00, while the race itself starts at 4:00 on Saturday morning. The SkyRun Marathon will start on Sunday morning at 4:00 at Balloch Caves.