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Women’s champ to defend her Sani Stagger crown

Natasha Malan

Defending women’s champion Natasha Malan (picture by Jetline Action Photo/Gameplan Media) has had to overcome setbacks this year but will hope she can defend her Sani Stagger crown when the race sets off from Premier Resort Sani Pass on Saturday, November 24.

Following her second in 2016, Malan singled out the Sani Stagger as a race she wanted to win last year and, following her win 12 months ago, she is keen to defend her title despite illness and injury setbacks this year.

“Last year it was my mission to win the Sani Stagger and I achieved it!” Malan said. “This year I plan to defend my title but with the 2019 Comrades being an up run, and with the Stagger being a Comrades qualifier, I think the quality of the opposition is going to be much better.

Full fitness

“I have been battling a calf injury but the physiotherapist gave me the all-clear this week so I am back to full fitness and looking forward to getting to KZN.”

The Mpumalanga-based runner took part in the gruelling Kaapsehoop Marathon recently as part of her preparation, a race that she wouldn’t normally take part in.

“I was in a good space with my training and I thought that it would be a good race to do. It is a really tough race on the body but it has helped with my preparation for the Sani Stagger.

“I have also had bronchitis fairly recently and that kept me off my feet for two weeks. Maybe that was a good thing though, because I think I might have needed the break,” she added.

Runners take on the gruelling Sani Stagger race. Picture: Sani Stagger

With 21km up Sani Pass and then 21km back down to the bottom, the marathon will take its toll on the body and Malan is hoping that she can manage herself well through the race. The athletes will also be hoping that the recent high temperatures will moderate somewhat, so they are running in cooler conditions.

“I am definitely a stronger runner up the pass than I am coming down! You can give yourself more breaks and control yourself better (going up).

“Coming back down is just 21km of pain!”

 Elite squad

Malan is eyeing a chance to join an elite running squad in the build-up to the 2019 Comrades Marathon and another strong Sani Stagger performance will help her chances of being noticed.

“… with my goal of a top 20 at the Comrades next year, if I win again at the Sani Stagger it will definitely help open the door to something better,” she added.

Fun run added to Sani Stagger event

The Sani Stagger also has a 21.1km “Down Run”, which will be held on Saturday, November 24, 2018, along the Sani Pass road, between the Lesotho Border Post and the Sani Pass resort.

*The Stagger Trail (ST) is a one-day Trail Run with a choice of two distances: 38km / 21km and will also take place that Saturday.

Based at the Sani Pass resort and run in conjunction with the Sani Stagger road marathon and half-marathon, the trail event traverses iconic trails in the Maloti Drakensberg World Heritage Site.

Both routes are characterised by genuine mountain trail with occasional technical sections and some challenging climbs, which will make for a truly authentic trail running experience.

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