2016 Sani Stagger set to be another epic

Photo - Anthony Grote / Gameplan Media

Sani Pass is set to play host to hundreds of runners this weekend as the 2016 Sani Stagger full and half marathons get underway in the Southern Drakensberg as the fully subscribed events provides runners with the unique opportunity to take on the daunting Sani Pass on Saturday.

The race has always been seen as a ‘bucket list’ event with runners licking their lips at the opportunity to take on the 21km up Sani Pass and then the 21km descent through the famous switch-backs of the pass and the flat section to the finish at the Sani Pass Hotel.

The 2016 event will once again double up as a Comrades Marathon qualifier however the race attracts some of the top runners in the country as they look to conquer the epic race, and it seems that the Maxed Elite team will be some of the runners to watch out for throughout the 42.2km showdown.

With the likes of 2014 winner Skhumbuzo Dlamini as well as 2015 third place finisher Lovemore Chabata the Maxed Elite team stars are going to be the ones to catch as the team of four runners look to set the pace at the front of the race in the absence of 2015 winner Bongmusa Mthembu.

The 2015 ladies winner Michelle de Montille will be back to defend her crown in 2016 however she will have a different challenge to contend with this weekend as the ladies that finished in second and third place will not be taking part in the race.

Her closest rival will be Jana Niehaus, who finished in fourth place in 2015, however with that said the challenge to De Montille’s crown will be a fierce one.

The immensely popular 21.1km half marathon sees runners descend from the top of Sani Pass which provides a challenge in itself for the runners and with last year’s winner Cameron Grant absent Derek Wasserfall will be hoping he can go one better and claim the overall title in 2016 and repeat his 2013 victory.

The ladies 21km contest will be another tough one although with 2015 winner Karen Sobrino returning to defend her crown and better her incredible fourth position overall in 2014 so the race might be for second and third.

Sobrino, an Amanzimtoti Athletic Club star, blitzed the women’s field in 2014 and 2015 and finished second in 2013 so she will be the runner with the target on her back when the 21km runners set off from the top of Sani Pass at 08:30 on Saturday.

The respective men’s and women’s full and half marathon fields will have a number of different elements to contest with this weekend. The weather is set fair with slight rain predicted however the precipitation might influence the pace of the race as runners attempt to maintain the stability on the tricky descent.

The full marathon starts at the Sani Pass Hotel at 06:00 with the half marathon beginning at the top of the pass at 08:00.

For more information go to www.sanistagger.co.za