Wasserfall back for another 21km Sani Stagger podium crack

Photo - Jetline Action Photo / Gameplan Media

With a reputation as being one of the tougher marathons around the Sani Stagger half marathon is no mean feat either as runners have to negotiate their way down Sani Pass to the Sani Pass hotel and 2013 half marathon winner Derek Wasserfall is returning for another shot at 21km glory this weekend.

The Sani Stagger half marathon sold out within minutes, showing its immense popularity as a challenging but doable 21km run as runners manage their way through the famous switch-backs and gravel roads that line the pass up into Lesotho.

With a win and second place finish to his name in his two outings at the Sani Stagger, Wasserfall’s return to the Drakensberg comes with a specific goal in mind as he hunts a place at the sharp end of the field.

“The race is going to be really tough again and I am sure we are going to see the same challengers this year as we have seen in the past couple years,” the Hillcrest Villagers Athletics Club star mentioned.

“I will be pushing again for a top three but we will have to see how the race goes as it all comes down to how I feel on the day.”

The route of the full marathon sees runners tackle 21km to the top of Sani Pass and then descend however the 21km half marathon starts at the top of the pass and Wasserfall has had enough experience to understand the challenges that come with such a demanding descent.

“It is a great race and so much fun but my calves and quads were so incredibly sore at the end of the race I had to hobble around for a couple days afterwards,” he laughed.

“The first five or six kilometres are steep and tough on the body but then the race flattens out but your legs have taken a pounding already which makes the last two thirds of the race difficult.

“The altitude isn’t much of a problem because we descend so quickly but the uneven terrain means that concentration levels have to be at their peak to prevent an injury. This adds a completely new element to the race that we wouldn’t normally have on road races.”

Despite the unique conditions that come with the Sani Stagger, Wasserfall and his training team in Hillcrest have been taking on a number of off-road challenges and he doesn’t feel that the rough terrain is going to pose too much of a problem as he has prepared for it.

“We do a lot of trail running over weekends, almost every Sunday, so I have prepared myself for the route.

“There are some awesome trails in the Giba Gorge and around Shongweni so we have been preparing well for the race,” Wasserfall explained.

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