UTCT 2022 | What To Expect And Who To Watch

by | Nov 23, 2022 | Racing News, Athlete Profiles, Events & Racing, Run

South Africa’s premier Ultra-trail race, RMB UTCT, has rolled around for the 2022 edition in Cape Town with significant route changes and a host of international competitors. Here is what to expect and who to watch.

RMB UTCT 2022 In Overview

Ultra Trail Cape Town is taking place over 3 days with 5 distance options for athletes to race. This is the first year that the 100 miler will be run; that is a 166km route with 7516m of elevation gain and it kicks off at 5pm on Friday 25 November. Head up to Kloof Corner with the Mountain Men at 6pm on Friday evening to support the runners setting off on the epic route!

As for the other distances, there is the classic Ultra Trail 100km route (called the UT100 for 2022 and onwards) featuring 4972m of vertical gain. We still expect this to be the most competitive race in 2022, before the 100 miler becomes more established, and it starts at 6am on Saturday 26 November. Others on the list are the Peninsula Traverse 55km (PT55), Table Mountain 35km (TM35), and Explorer 23km (EX23).

Utct Ut 100 Km Route
UT 100 Map (c) UTCT
Utct Ut 100 Km Route Profile
UT 100 Route Profile (c) UTCT

The RMB UTCT UT100 Route

As the UT100 is expected to be the most competitive race this weekend, we will be giving it most of the focus in this article.

The UT100 route (which is technically 97.8km) starts in the Cape Town city bowl at Garden’s Rugby Club and heads out onto the technical but runable trails of Lion’s Head and Signal hill. Just before hitting the 20km mark, runners begin climbing the steep steps of Kloof Corner and then contour across to the infamous Platteklip Gorge ascent that will see them gain around 500m of elevation from the contour path to the summit. You can see why the UT100 route is regarded as a “front loaded” route. There is a lot of elevation to be dealt with in the first half of the race.

From Maclear’s Beacon after the Platteklip ascent the route takes a new turn towards the Twelve Apostles Trail on the Western side of the mountain (as opposed to heading straight South to Constantia Nek). The route then leads them down the treacherous Llunduno Ravine to the beach. Some flat beach running from kilometres 41 to 45 puts them at the base of Rocket Road and the potent ascent up Suther Peak that overlooks Hout Bay. By this point the faster runners will be close to midday and the heat will be building if it’s a sunny one.

Utct Beach Running Is Tough
The beach running doesn’t necessarily mean hard and flat sand at UTCT. (c) UTCT

After the Hout Bay Aid station a potent climb takes runners up to Vlakkenberg and is followed by some technical but generally faster running down to Constantia Nek, through De Hel, and onto Alphen Trail. The terrain changes from Constantia Nek onwards to be much more runnable but there are still 2 more intense vertical efforts to be dealt with. Those are the ascents up to the contour path at Cecilia Forest ( ± 78km) and from University of Cape Town to the King’s Blockhouse on the slopes of Devil’s Peak (± 89km), the later being particular painful on tired legs.

Utct Trails Are Tough To Run
The Eastern side of Table Mountain isn’t quite as rugged as the rest of the trails but the legs will be tired from the 80km of distance you’ve already got under the belt. (c) UTCT

From the Blockhouse onwards you’re just about home free with another 100 odd metres of elevation gain along the contour path before a fast descent from Dead Man’s Tree down the gravel road of Deer Park and back to the Garden’s Rugby Club. All in a day’s work, as they say.

There is often a lot of talk from international competitors about just how technical and physical the trails are on Table Mountain. There are few sections of the route where you can switch off your brain and just run. It is a mentally and, of course, physically taxing race that shouldn’t be underestimated.

South Africans To Watch At UTCT 2022

In the South African lineup there is Matt Healy, Daniel Claassen (first South African 2021), and Kyle Bucklow who are the top men to watch at the UT100 and Lucky Miya gunning for the UTCT 100 Miler. As for the South African women, you’ll want to take note of Kerry-Ann Marshal, Nicolette Griffioen and Naomi brand (all racing the UTCT 100 Miler), with Ann Ashworth and MUT 100 winner Tarrin van Niekerk racing the UT100.

Utct 2022 | What To Expect And Who To Watch
Matt Healy will be looking for redemption in 2022 and is on form to find it. Follow along on the WILD AIR Sports Instagram stories during Saturday to see him take on the world’s best.

We will be sharing live updates of ASICS runner Matt Healy on the @wildairsports Instagram channel during the race so be sure to check in on Saturday for those updates! Matt has been having a string of great ultra races in the latter half of 2022 and will look for a good result to cap off the tear at UTCT. Kyle Bucklow is the top ranked South African in terms of UTMB points while Daniel known for being very consistent over the UT100.

Matt has been smart about his racing season in 2022 to avoid overcooking himself. This is what he has to say ahead of the race on Saturday: “I essentially only had three main goal races for the year, all of them being over a 100kms. One of those three included the upcoming UTCT. So I only really started my trail-racing season in June, with the Mozart 100 in Austria and then I chose to race Nice Cote d’Azur because I felt like it was good timing between Mozart and UTCT. It took longer than I expected to shake off my Nice race — that race was super physically demanding with tough conditions on the day, and my knees and quads did take longer to recover than expected. I have been conscious about not doing too much at this point and focusing on recovery days and recovery-type running and then good quality focus work. I’m excited to see how the race goes.” 

Utct 2022 | What To Expect And Who To Watch
Daniel Claassens is a consistent top 5 or 10 finisher on this gruelling course. (c) UTCT

International Athletes To Watch At UTCT 2022

In the men’s field on the UT100 we are predicting a battle between 2nd place 2021 finisher Sebastien Spehler and current UTMB points leader Hannes Namburger. Seb is going to be hungry for a win having been so close last year and he has the advantage of being familiar with the terrain. Big shake ups could come from Americans Drew Holden and Jared Hazen or even the legendary mountain man Anton Krupicka, also of the USA.

Utct 2022 | What To Expect And Who To Watch
2nd to Mr Jim Walmsley in 2021, Seb Spehler will be out hunting victory on Saturday. (c) UTCT

In the women’s race, things are looking highly competitive. French athlete Camille Bruyas is having a cracker 2022 and has won the 60km event at UTCT before and thus proven her ability on our technical terrain. She will be up against Swedish runner Mimmi Kotka (3rd UTCT 2018 and #2 UTMB points) as well as Kelly Wolf (4th UTCT 2018), Nicole Bitter (#3 in UTMB points). Maryline Nakache, also of France, could be worth betting on as well in the 100km race. Saturday I shaping up to be highly contested on the Cape Peninsula.

On the 100 mile course, Dimitri Mityaev is expected to be a force to be reckoned with, even though it will be his first 100 Miler. He’ll have to beat 2017 UT100 winner Prodigal Khumalo to take the inaugural win and you can be sure they won’t be the only 2 in with a shot. Aleksei Tolstenko, Fotis Zisimopoulos, and Elov Olsson are also in for the 20+ hour battle.

Utct 2022 | What To Expect And Who To Watch
Camille Bruyas is good at winning Ultras and also has a 2nd place at UTMB in the trophy cabinet. (c) Cyrille Quintard

Hillary Allen and Ragna Debats are going to be going up against our three South African powerhouses mentioned above for the women’s title at the first ever UTCT 100 miler. Grab your popcorn (a lot of it), it is going to be a big thrown down this weekend!

Feeling inspired by all this Ultra talk? Learn how to step up your running distance with some helpful guidelines from our recent article!

Cover Photo Credit: Zac Zinn / UTCT