Douglas Pickard Wins 2024 MUT Miler by UTMB

(GEORGE, South Africa) 26 May 2024 – On Saturday, 25 May, Douglas Pickard and Maria Marincowitz along with 45 other MUT Miler athletes conquered a tough 100 Mile course through the Outeniqua Mountains. The flagship MUT by UTMB distance runners were joined by nearly 2 000 fellow trail runners on their quest to complete one of six race distances. Such is the nature of running in South Africa’s scenic Garden Route that each individual had a story to tell…

“The MUT by UTMB’s 100 Miler course is like a mix of every other 100 Miler in the county blended into one,” Pickard explained after sealing victory. “It features high mountains, pristine fynbos, incredible indigenous forests, river crossings, mud, and even a stretch on the beach. It’s tough, but it’s beautiful.”

“I always say if I were to live anywhere other than Cape Town I’d live in George,” South African trail running legend and MUT Marathon winner Ryan Sandes praised. “It’s beautiful and there’s so many outdoors things to do here, not just trail running. The Outeniqua Mountains are special though. It doesn’t matter what distance you run here; the trails are technical, challenging, and rewarding!”

The community spirit of the event augments the trails themselves and adds a special atmosphere to the race, while also taking the sting out of the difficulty. “The support crew, at the aid stations, are amazing,” Pickard stated. “They are so helpful and go the extra mile to assist everyone as they come into the check points.” Which is particularly important to the slower runners on the 100 Mile and 100 kilometre routes, the remote aid stations where the runner’s seconds cannot reach are manned solely by volunteers who provide the care and support one would usually only expect from a loved one.

MUT Miler by UTMB

Pickard set out like a man on a mission when the MUT Miler got underway on Friday afternoon at 14:00. The Kwa-Zulu Natal based runner established a lead on the vertical kilometre ascent to the summit of George Peak and extended it on the next climb to the highest summit in the Outeniqua range, Craddock Peak. By the time he reached the first aid station, after 15 kilometres, Pickard’s lead was 3 minutes and 20 seconds. Over the next 148 kilometres he inexorably extended that advantage, while behind him Christiaan Greyling, Brandon Hully and Gabriel Kriel held second, third and fourth.

“To be honest I didn’t have a plan,” Pickard confessed. “I pushed hard on the VK and I was a bit surprised nobody stuck with me. I felt strong, but even so I started to doubt myself a bit because I was worried, I might be overdoing it. But while I was feeling good, I decided to just keep pushing because I knew if I could get into the middle section, which is more runnable, it would get easier.”

“Emotion are high,” he added on the finish line. “The beginning and end sections of this race are tough! Bergplaas nearly killed me. I was happy to make it out of there. But I loved the middle section, and I’m very happy with the result!”

Pickard’s winning margin was 2 hours, 18 minutes and 12 seconds over Miler debutant Greying. Like Greyling, Hulley also completed his first 100 Miler at the MUT by UTMB. “It’s my third Miler start but my first finish,” he smiled. “I learnt a lot out there, but it was also good to just get a finish under my belt.” The unspoken implications for the George local are that he has aspirations of winning his home race. A feat which would make him even more popular with the George Trail Running community.

In the women’s race Janet Woodhead was the early pace setter. It was only during Friday night that Marincowitz moved into the lead. “It was a close race,” Marincowitz recounted. “I was looking over my shoulder constantly. Sveta [Becker] and Janet [Woodhead] had me on my toes and pushing. For a long time one of them was 10 minutes behind me and that kept me pushing to the finish.”

Marincowitz’s winning time was 32 hours, 15 minutes, and 29 seconds. Becker was second, 28 minutes and 26 seconds later, ahead of Woodhead in third.

MUT 100 by UTMB

Axel Sleebus and Natalia Mastrota dominated the men’s and women’s races, respectively, in the MUT 100. Sleebus, who hails from Belgium but lives in Switzerland, was at home on the technical trails, leading from pillar to post. Mastrota was even more dominant on her way to victory and was as high as third overall on the trails, before finishing fourth.

They were joined on the podium by Michael Molyneaux and Thato Kabeli, as well as by Kerry-Ann Marshall and Simone Malan. Like the women’s race winner, Marshall ran her way into the top ten overall; showcasing in the process just how competitive the MUT 100 women’s race was.

MUT 60 by UTMB

The MUT 60 was the event’s premier distance when it was launched in 2018. Over the last six years Kane Reilly has virtually perfected the preparation and effort required to emerge victorious. In 2024 he was not quite able to execute to his plan. Cramps put pay to his chances of victory, while Andreas Lundegård ran a perfectly paced race to surge to gold. The Swede was joined on the podium by Reilly and Admire Muzopambwa who crossed the finish line alongside each other, having decided on a truce after duking it out over the closing kilometres.

Emily Djock was the undisputed queen of the distancing, putting together a flawless performance on her MUT by UTMB debut. The American, who now calls Cape Town home, was awed by the mountains. “Coming to run here has been on my bucket list for a while, and I’ll definitely be back,” she promised, in response to the query if she would like to take on the MUT 100 in 2025.

Djock was followed across the line by Brigitte Joubert and Michelle Rolfe.

MUT Marathon

The 43 kilometre mountain marathon distance saw, the 2023 MUT Miler champion and South African trail running legend, Ryan Sands overcoming Robert Rorich and Iain Peterkin. The ultra-distance specialist dispelled the notion that he would struggle to match the speed of Rorich and Peterkin, by timing his assault on the lead to perfection. Showing all his experience and racing nous, Sandes conserved his energy for the second half of the course and used his technical trail running skills to distance his rivals.

“I remember how broken I was in the final kilometres, coming through Tonnelbos,” he laughed. “This year I was able to push through there knowing I only had 30 kilometres, rather than 150, in my legs!”

Local favourite, Rebecca Kohne wowed the home crowds by running to victory in the women’s MUT Marathon. “It was amazing to run on home trails and to share them with so many international and local visitors,” she said. Kohne’s closest rival was Maryke van Zyl, with Sabrina Daolio coming home in third.

MUT Challenge and Lite

Sunday saw the MUT by UTMB festivities continue as the final MUT 100 runners struggled home to beat the 05:00, 24 hour, cut-off. There after the speedsters took to the trails for a 24 kilometre, MUT Challenge, and an 11 kilometre, Lite. The men’s race in the Challenge came down to just 14 seconds between the winner Philani Sengce and Underson Ncube in third. Between them Jacques du Plessis was 10 seconds off first and 4 ahead of Ncube.

The women’s MUT Challenge was even closer as Mila Bianca Geldenhuys held off the double defending champion and pre-race favourite Lijan Burger by just 4 seconds. Lisa Kathryn Geffen completed the podium places.

In the MUT Lite Sindrino Matthews was unstoppable, despite the best efforts of Luan van der Vyver and Lunga Nolakana. Jandri Snyders dipped under the hour mark en route to victory in the women’s MUT Lite. In so doing she bested Bailee Nell and Esrie Loock.

MUT by UTMB Wrap

After the final prize giving, at 13:00, the attention turned to the last men out on the MUT Miler course. Morocco’s Hicham Mikou scraped home just 58 seconds before 14:00, visibly relieved to have made the cut-off. Nearly 9 minutes later Tobie Reyneke was the final official finisher in a time of 50 hours, 8 minutes and 26 seconds.

In total the 2024 edition boasted 47 MUT Miler finishers, while 65 men and women crossed the finish line of the MUT 100, 175 completed the MUT 60, and an impressive 382 claimed a MUT Marathon medal. The MUT Challenge was the biggest race of the weekend with 445 finishers, while the Outeniqua Park Stadium race village welcomed 335 MUT Lite trail runners home. These numbers represented a significant new record turn-out for the race and sets it up for further growth in 2025.

To relive the action from the 2024 MUT by UTMB trail running fans and participants can follow the @georgemountainultratrail Instagram handle or like the Mountain Ultra-Trail by UTMB Facebook page. Further information can be found at mut.utmb.world.

2024 MUT by UTMB Results

MUT Miler by UTMB | Men:

  1. Douglas Pickard (22:25:26)
  2. Christiaan Greyling (24:43:28)
  3. Brandon Hulley (26:10:17)

MUT Miler by UTMB | Women:

  1. Maria Marincowitz (32:15:29)
  2. Sveta Becker (32:43:55)
  3. Janet Woodhead (35:23:41)

MUT 100 by UTMB | Men:

  1. Axel Sleebus (11:48:51)
  2. Michael Molyneaux (12:40:20)
  3. Thato Kabeli (13:20:57)

MUT 100 by UTMB | Women:

  1. Natalia Mastrota (13:29:49)
  2. Kerry-Ann Marshall (13:51:50)
  3. Simone Malan (15:22:50)

MUT 60 by UTMB | Men:

  1. Andreas Lundegård (06:08:50)
  2. Kane Reilly (06:22:34)
  3. Admire Muzopambwa (ST)

MUT 60 by UTMB | Women:

  1. Emily Djock (07:17:18)
  2. Brigitte Joubert (08:42:51)
  3. Michelle Rolfe (08:46:09)

MUT Marathon by UTMB | Men:

  1. Ryan Sandes (04:12:00)
  2. Robert Rorich (04:30:37)
  3. Iain Peterkin (04:32:20)

MUT Marathon by UTMB | Women:

  1. Rebecca Kohne (04:52:52)
  2. Maryke van Zyl (05:07:51)
  3. Sabrina Daolio (05:22:44)

MUT Challenge by UTMB | Men:

  1. Philani Sengce (01:49:01)
  2. Jacques Du Plessis (01:49:11)
  3. Underson Ncube (01:49:15)

MUT Challenge by UTMB | Women:

  1. Mila Bianca Geldenhuys (02:12:36)
  2. Lijan Burger (02:12:40)
  3. Lisa Kathryn Geffen (02:20:15)

MUT Lite by UTMB | Men:

  1. Sindrino Matthews (47:20)
  2. Luan Van Der Vyver (47:48)
  3. Lunga Nolakana (48:34)

MUT Lite by UTMB | Women:

  1. Jandri Snyders (58:53)
  2. Bailee Nell (01:01:23)
  3. Esrie Loock (01:03:04)

UTMB® World Series

UTMB® World Series is the world’s ultimate trail-running circuit that unites the sport’s biggest stars and passionate runners through the best, leading international events in the most stunning locations.  Built on a passion for the mountains with sustainability at its heart, UTMB® World Series gives all trail runners the chance to experience the UTMB® adventure across the world, with events taking place across Asia, Oceania, Europe, Africa and the Americas. It is the only place where runners can begin their quest to UTMB® Mont-Blanc, France, where the prestigious UTMB® World Series Finals will be held. For more information, visit www.utmb.world.

About UTMB Group

Over the last 18 years, and since the creation of UTMB® Mont-Blanc in 2003 by a group of passionate friends, UTMB Group has been the driving force behind the development of trail running. The UTMB® Mont-Blanc is the sports pinnacle event, and every year, 10,000 runners earn their place on the start line. UTMB Group also pioneered the LiveTrail® technology, an innovative digital service that supports the management of endurance races. Revered by hundreds of thousands of athletes, UTMB® has become a global, premium, and leading brand. In May 2021, UTMB Group partnered with The IRONMAN Group to launch the UTMB® World Series, which brings together many of the best international events on the planet to provide exclusive access to the sport’s pinnacle event, UTMB® Mont-Blanc. The UTMB® World Series is built on the founding principles of UTMB® Mont-Blanc: surpassing oneself; fair-play; respect for people and the environment; and solidarity. Find out more at www.utmb.world.

About The IRONMAN Group    

The IRONMAN Group operates a global portfolio of events that includes the IRONMAN® Triathlon Series, the IRONMAN® 70.3® Triathlon Series, 5150™ Triathlon Series, the Rock ‘n’ Roll® Running Series, IRONKIDS®, World Triathlon Championship Series, premier running events including the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon™ and City2Surf®, UTMB® World Series trail-running events including the Canyons Endurance Runs™ by UTMB®, Tarawera Ultra™ by UTMB® and Ultra-Trail Australia™ by UTMB®, Epic Series™ mountain bike races including the Absa Cape Epic®, road cycling events, and other multisport races. The IRONMAN Group is the largest operator of mass participation sports in the world and provides more than a million participants annually the benefits of endurance sports through the company’s vast offerings. Catering to the full athlete experience, the company portfolio also includes FulGaz® virtual cycling, the most realistic indoor riding experience connected fitness application aimed at preparing athletes for real-world events. Since the inception of the iconic IRONMAN® brand and its first event in 1978, athletes have proven that ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE® by crossing finish lines around the world. Beginning as a single race, The IRONMAN Group has grown to become a global sensation with hundreds of events across 55+ countries. The IRONMAN Group is owned by Advance, a private, family-owned business, and Orkila Capital, a growth equity firm focused on building great brands. For more information, visit www.ironman.com/about-ironman-group

About Advance       

Advance is a private, family-held business that owns and invests in companies across media, entertainment, technology, communications, education and other promising growth sectors. Our mission is to build the value of our companies over the long-term by fostering growth and innovation. Advance’s portfolio includes Condé Nast, Advance Local, Stage Entertainment, The IRONMAN Group, American City Business Journals, Leaders Group, Turnitin, and Pop. Together these operating companies employ more than 17,000 people in 29 countries. Advance is also among the largest shareholders in Charter Communications, Warner Bros. Discovery and Reddit. For more information visit www.advance.com

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