Five out of five for Kane

Kane Reilly descends to East Fort on his way to his fifth title at the Old Fishermans Trail Challenge. Photo - Stephen Granger

Kane Reilly lived up to his reputation as one of the country’s foremost trail athletes, with an emphatic victory at the 21st Old Fisherman’s Trail Challenge (OFTC) in Cape Town over the weekend (Sunday 8 June), while Lijan Burger defended her ‘up’ title to claim the honours in the women’s competition.

Almost three hundred trail runners completed the traditional ‘up’ route between Fish Hoek and Hout Bay over 24,5km on a perfect sunny and calm winter’s day.

Johan Wahl crosses the Disa River on his way to finishing the OFTC. Photo – Stephen Granger

The OFTC is one of the oldest trail races in South Africa and elite athletes enjoy returning to an event which embraces the traditions of trail, continuing to support founder Richard Sutton’s race over the years.

Legends of the sport, such as Martin Dreyer, Warren Petterson, Michael Bailey, Ryan Sandes and Ben Brimble and Michelle Lombardi, Annamart Laubscher, Jess Pollock, Meg Mackenzie and Landie Greyling have their names engraved on the trophy.

One of the legends of the Fishermans, Michael Bailey at the top of Blackburn Ravine during the 2013 Old Fishermans Trail Challenge, Photo – Pete Kirk

More recently younger champions of the calibre of Siviwe Nkombi, Llewellyn Groenewald, Kane Reilly and Kyle Bucklow and Hayley Preen, Tarryn King, Bianca Tarboton and Lijan Burger have been to the fore and maintained the race’s tradition of top-flight competition on some of the Peninsula Mountain Chain’s best trails.

But Reilly stands out from the pack. The adidas TERREX athlete won the OFTC junior category in 2012 and raced to his fifth win on Sunday in as many starts since 2016. Reilly had struggled with illness ahead of the George MUT Marathon two weeks ago, where he placed second, but was back to health for the ‘Fishermans’. 

Oli Morris on a steep descent chasing a podium position at the OFTC. Photo – Stephen Granger

Reilly kept company with last year’s winner, Kyle Bucklow, and this year’s Ultra-trail Drakensberg 100km champion, Oli Morris, for the first 5km but eased away from the pair on the ascent up Echo Valley towards Silvermine Nature Reserve and romped home to the finish at the Hout Bay Riding Centre in 2 hrs 10 min 12 sec – just over two minutes clear of Bucklow with Morris a further two minutes back in third.

“The Fishermans always provides a test of terrain and navigation,” remarked Reilly.  “Although I almost lost the trail a few times, I managed to stay on course to the finish. I’m feeling healthier after MUT and didn’t really have too many problems today.

“Kyle and Oli were running well and were always in contention.  I started to move ahead of them going up Echo Valley, but they were not far behind along the Amphitheatre Trail above Silvermine Dam.”

Protea athlete, Lijan Burger, en route to her third win at the OFTC. Photo – Stephen Granger

Burger raced to her third OFTC victory but was chased all the way to the finish by Lisa Geffen, who ran one of her best races. “I always seem to struggle running the race this way around,” admitted Burger after crossing the line in 2:48:04, just 43 seconds clear of Geffen. “I seem to find the navigation harder this way around and I missed a few markers which cost me several minutes.”


Top three under the finish arch – winner Kane Reilly is flanked by runner-up Kyle Bucklow (left) and Oli Morris. Photo – Stephen Granger

Men: 1 Kane Reilly 2:10:12; 2 Kyle Bucklow 2:12:18; 3 Oli Morris 2:14:28; 4 Matthew Burke 2:28:34; 5 Jonathan Black 2:29:03; 6 Andrew Whiley 2:35:39; 7 Patrick Cameron-Smith 2:37:26; 8 Michael Robey 2:39:23; 9 Zibele Bala 2:42:02; 10 Marco Saleva 2:42:06

Top three under the finishing arch – winner Lijan Burger flanked by runner-up Lisa Geffen (left) and Jada Linstrom. Photo – Stephen Granger

Women: 1 Lijan Burger 2:48:04; 2 Lisa Geffen 2:48:47; 3 Jada Linstrom 2:55:26; 4 Mia Uys 3:00:04; 5 Bronwen Moodie 3:13:23; 6 Ayesha Makim 3:14:15; 7 Bianca Silberbauer 3:25:56; 8 Anita Ferger 3:27:00; 9 Magdelena Hoerst 3:28:15; 10 Michelle le Grange 3:29:53