What is the History of The Otter Run?
The inaugural Otter Run was staged in September 2009 running in conjunction with the Southern Storm. The first Otter Run, which attracted some of the best endurance athletes in Africa, was described by hardened trail runners as “the pinnacle of a life time spent pursuing outdoor endurance events.” In 2009 80 participants completed the Otter Run as day two of the six day staged duathlon- The Southern Storm.
- The inaugural Otter Men’s race was won by Iain don Wauchope in a time of 4:59:02
- The Woman’s race was won by Sue don Wauchope in a time of 5:58:07
- The Male’s Vet race was won by Nick Bester in a time of 5:33:04
- The Ladies Vet race was won by Rhona Zonnenstein in a time of 6:36:09
2010 the OTTER was again run in conjunction with the Southern Storm.
- Winning Time of the OTTER Men’s race was 4:48:53 and won by Andre Gie
- The Woman’s race was won by Jeannie Bomford in a time of 5:17:12 (ladie’s record)
- The Male’s VET race was won by Trevor Tourien in a time of 5:13:03
- The Woman’s VET race was won by Michelle Lombardi in a time of 05:22:39
2011 the OTTER became a stand-alone Event: Otter Run (8 hours cut-off) and Otter Ramble (11 hours cut-off)
The Master Category (+50 years) was introduced
- Winning Time of the OTTER Men’s race was won in a record time of 4:40:15 by Ryan Sandes
- The Woman’s race was won by Sue Don-Wauchope in a time of 5:17:12
- The Male’s VET race was won by Bruce Arnett in a time of 04:51:55
- The Woman’s VET race was won by Caitlin Lewis in a time of 07:06:16
- The Male’s MASTER race was won by Mark Preen in a time of 05:08:50
- The Woman’s MASTER were behind cut-off.
2012 saw the First ever “UP” Run – the direction of the OTTER was turned around:
Race Start in Nature’s Valley and Finish at Stormsriver Mouth – the RETTO (OTTER backwards)
Retto & Classic Route
For many the Otter African Trail run has established itself as the yardstick by which trail runners measure themselves and as such there was much interest in the times posted. Ryan Sandes’ 2011 record of 04:40:15 in the Otter Classic course was regarded as the bar in the mens’ race and naturally there was much speculation, particularly in the media, as to if his time could be bettered. Iain Don Wauchope blitzing of the Retto course in 04:23 stunned South African Trail Running with many acclaiming “a new record.” This is in fact slightly misleading. Just as the Comrades Marathon has an up run and a down run, so too The Otter African Trail Run has two courses; the Classic and the Retto, and as such each has its own record and record holders. Comparisons are unavoidable. However, as anyone who has done both will attest, the two courses differ and are very different races. Ryan Sandes and Jeanni Bomford hold the records for the Classic Course while Iain Don Wachoupe and Krissy Mayle are the new record holders for the Retto.
Which is the harder course, the Otter Retto or the Otter Classic?
Feedback from runners who have done both courses overwhelmingly seemed to indicate that most found the Retto course the harder of the two. Negotiating the treacherous Waterfall section between Ngubu Hut and Storms River Rest Camp with tired legs seemed to be the most common reason cited for the perceived difference but the different gradients of the climbs was also suggested. Harder it may be, statistics seem to indicate that the Retto is the more achievable race (within the time limits) and perhaps the faster course. Nine Runners finished the Retto Run 2012 in Sub 5 hours up from seven in 2011 although 18% of the field finished the 2012 Retto in sub six hours down from 19% in 2011 on the Classic course. Overall The Retto Run had a successful finisher’s percentage of 84% up from 72% in the 2011 Otter Run on the Classic course. The Retto Challenge recorded a 93% rate of successful finishers up from 84% on the 2011 equivalent. Overall 55% of all starters on both events in 2012 ran a sub 8 hour (Run Cut- off) qualifying for coloured medals 9% more than in 2011. Statistically it would seem the Classic course (East West) is the less attainable or perhaps runners are just arriving better prepared?
Three runners withdrew from each race in 2012 due to injury and 13 and 12 respectively missed the cut-off times giving a total of 31 runners removed from the course. This is half the number recorded in the 2011 events.
|Average||Year of Birth||1969.60||1970.81||1970.86||1973.58|
On the subject of event statistics we pulled up some other interesting facts that went into making the 2012 Retto happen all thanks to the SUUNTO AMBITs which recorded the data and GU for powering the team.
The Magnetic South Field Team collectively covered 586km between the 6 Oct when our final pre event safety scout traversed the entire trail to the 16 October which allowed our crew ensure the full Otter Trail was handed back to SANParks devoid of any event signage, litter or safety equipment and all clear to allow the first phase of hikers take to the trail. This figure does not include all the additional mileage covered by the many volunteers who were looking after your safety on the actual event days. One particular crew member, Petrus Maree, clocked up over 100km laying out the marking and then rechecking it in between runs and clearing it up at the end of the Challenge.