Jim Walmsley smashes Ultra Trail Cape Town record despite getting lost during race
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Johannesburg — Jim Walmsley. Forgive South African ultra runners for not reacting warmly to the mention of that name.
And why should they when the American has seemingly made it his business to 'erase' our runners' outstanding feats.
Back in 2019 Walmsley broke Bruce Fordyce's 36-year-old 50 mile record.
That wasn't so bad given that he did this out in the United States and not many of the current South African ultra running generation were aware of Fordyce's feat.
But then this weekend, the American made the very long trip from his home in Phoenix, Arizona to Cape Town here to smash into smithereens a four-year record that most locals were thinking would stand for much longer. And he did that despite having gone off track during the race.
Walmsley won the eighth running of the Ultra Trail Cape Town (UTCT) on Saturday in 9:47:20 to slice off nearly three minutes off the record set by Prodigal Khumalo back in 2017.
Walmsley put on a superb performance, especially as he achieved this new record despite going off-course at the top of Table Mountain and losing some minutes, and for the fact that the course had been adjusted to include another climb (Vlakkenberg Peak), which was expected to add a possible 30 minutes to finishing times.
The 31-year-old took the victory in his stride making light of his having gotten lost en route.
“It was pretty early on though and not a big deal, it’s a long day. It was a good reminder just to settle into it and to find a sustainable pace and work my way back into it.”
He was pretty modest about having broken the record, Walmsley putting his brilliant run down to the cool weather conditions brought about by the rain that fell the night before.
“I think we really lucked out with pretty good weather and I think that’s the main reason why there’s a fast time today."
That though is not really the full story, for such is Walmsley's quality that he created daylight between himself and the other competitors.
Second-placed Sebastien Speller of France Speller came in some 30 minutes behind the American in 10:16:20 while Italian Andreas Rriterer was third in 10:41:21.
The first South African home was Daniel Claassen who took fifth place in 10:56:16.He described his high placing as totally unexpected.
“I am super-stoked with the result. When I looked at the line-up, I did not expect a top five. I think everyone took it a bit easy in the beginning so they didn’t burn themselves. I just stuck to my gameplan, and I’m very happy that I could finish strong.”
In the women's race, American Courtney Dauwalter reigned victorious in 11:20:04 for an incredible 8th place overall. He was followed by Marianne Hogan of Canada in 12:15:13 while France's Maryline Nakache was third in a time of 12:27:06.
South Africans Ann Ashworth (12:50:57) and Kerry-Ann Marshall (13:14:52) were fourth and fifth respectively.
It was Walmsley everyone was talking about though following his incredible record breaking ru. The man he deposed, Khumalo finished in a distant 44th spot while three-time Comrades Marathon champion Bongmusa Mthembu took a credible seventh place to erase the bad memories of his 2017 DNF (did not finish).