Time for a Stagger up Sani Pass

It’s called the Sani Stagger with very good reason… Just a glance at some of the pictures in this post will tell you why many runners really feel the pain in this gruelling event based at iconic Sani Pass.

Thousands will flock to the Southern Berg this weekend for the Sani Stagger and Stagger Trail events to take on Sani Pass and the trails that surround Sani Pass Resort on Saturday (November 23).

Sold out

Both the full marathon and the half marathon are sold out again and most of the entries in the Stagger Trail have been snapped up, setting the scene for an exciting day of running in pristine surroundings.

With warm and clear weather on the cards, conditions should be close to ideal for the runners.

Picturesque views and surroundings at the Sani Stagger. The pass’s switchbacks provide a unique challenge. Pictures: Anthony Grote/Gameplan Media

There are two defending champions in the field for the full marathon, with current record holder Skhumbuzo Dlamini returning as well as Prodigal Khumalo, the winner in 2012.

Interestingly, the 2018 half marathon winner Solicitor Manduwa will also be taking part in the full marathon this year. Manduwa dominated the 21km event last year, putting more than six minutes between himself and the second-place finisher.

Unique opportunity to take on Sani Pass

Third place finisher in the half marathon last year, Minehle Ngcobo, has also thrown his name into the full marathon hat this year.

Underberg runner Philip Shezi will fly the local flag and have an eye on the overall Sani Stagger title this weekend. Picture: Anthony Grote/Gameplan Media

Philip Shezi will carry the hopes of the local community on his shoulders. The Underberg runner will be hoping to turn his numerous podium finishes into solid gold this year.

Thompson Magagane, who ended fourth in 2017 behind Shezi, will want to finish ahead of the local runner this year.

Keep and eye on these runners

Last year’s bronze medallist in the women’s marathon, Roxanne Vale, will be back for another shot at the full marathon.

One to keep an eye on is last year’s 21km silver medallist, Jeanette Jordan, who will also be taking part in the 42km event to the summit of Sani Pass and back.

In the half marathon, local athlete Jeffrey Sosibo, who finished in fourth place last year, will have an opportunity to better his result for the 21km dash down Sani Pass.

He will have his work cut out for him as 2017’s third place finisher, Martin Ngwenya, will also return for a shot at first place in the half marathon.

Wide open

The women’s half marathon title is going to be wide open with 2019 and 2018’s defending champions absent.

The most notable entry is Nicole Wiggill who finished third in 2017 and seventh in 2018. The Underberg local will understand the conditions and might have her eye on the overall women’s title in 2019.

Now into its second year, the Stagger Trail has grown in popularity with runners having the option of a 38km trail run or a 21km run.

Last year’s 38km trail run runner-up Mdu Zondi returns, but he will have his work cut as Travers Pellew, who finished third in 2018, will also be back to gun for the title Lyle Timm won 12 months ago.

Runners also get an opportunity to enjoy the trails around the Premier Resort Sani Pass in the 21km trail run perspective, while less athletic but equally enthusiastic participants can take on a shorter Southern Lodestar Foundation (SLF) Fun Run/Walk.

All proceeds from the fun run will be donated to a project that will see the upliftment of infrastructure at seven crèches that fall under Southern Lodestar’s feeding programme.

For more information visit www.sanistagger.co.za