International Athletes Dominate at UTCT 23

RW Reporter |

RMB Ultra-trail Cape Town (RMB UTCT), now part of the World Trail Majors, delivered a host of stellar performances and exciting racing from both South African and international ultra-trail runners over the weekend. About 400 international visitors and over 2000 runners took part across the 23km, 35km and 55km, the UT100 (the 100km race), and UTCT (the 167km) races that climbed Table Mountain and crossed the Peninsula.

UT100 – 100km
In the men’s race, Dmitry Mityaev dominated, though he had to keep pushing hard to maintain the lead, with a determined Caleb Olson and others chasing, finishing in a time of 10:43:06. Mityaev had a fall after he reached the top of Table Mountain going downhill and experienced some pain, but kept going after he had already established a solid lead. He managed to stay ahead despite the strong challenge for first place that intensified at 70 kilometres, keeping the pressure on Mityaev.

You can’t ask for much more of a scenic race, but definitely for me it is a mean, crazy course. It’s relentless and technical, never a dull moment.”

Olson (11:02:28) slowed in the last stretch due to foot pain, widening the gap that had closed to just five minutes at the UCT aid station, 12 kilometres from the finish. Olson’s compatriot  Anthony Costales was third (11:24:08).

Mityaev says: “I am very happy to have won for a second time. It’s an amazing race, a very difficult and technical race. A very beautiful community with friendly people.”

Olson says he went out quite conservatively, and then after mile 12 [19km] was not feeling good and dropped back to about 9th place, but was able to move up on some of the technical climbs and even on the descents, as the technical sections suit him. He wanted to get a gap before the flatter runnable sections.

“I was 10-12 minutes behind Dimitry most of the time and managed to get closer at UCT, but I was pushing as hard as I could and on the very rocky terrain after that and my feet were blistering and painful, so I slowed. It has to be one of the coolest views of any race. It reminded me of some of the tall alpine areas near home, but it is right above the ocean in the city as well. It was a great day and I am super excited.”

Anthony Costales says “Cape Town is hard! I could tell from pretty early on it was not going to be my best performance but Caleb was doing well in front of me and we are friends from back home in Salt Lake City, and that kept my spirits high thinking we could both make the podium. I felt the pressure creeping on behind me so I had to keep pushing. You can’t ask for much more of a scenic race, but definitely for me it is a mean, crazy course. It’s relentless and technical, never a dull moment.”

Next in was Thibaut Baronian (FR) 11:36:29, then Simon Desvaux de Marigny (MU) 11:42:01, Mads Louring (DK) 11:48:35 and Johannes Löw (DE) 11:55:46. Local legend Ryan Sandes (ZA) took eighth place, and says he experienced bad cramping near the start of the race going up Platteklip after possibly going out too fast. He suggested that he should perhaps do the 100 miler next time: “There was such amazing community support that kept me going in some dark patches. This is a tough route with a high level of technicality, you can never get into any rhythm, especially when you are tired.”

Grobler Basson, another South African expected to do well, withdrew at Llandudno (41,5 km), and Konstantinos Paradeisopoulus withdrew at Hout Bay (56.6 km).

Ruth Croft (NZ) powered through the 100 kms achieving 10th place overall  in 12:12:20,  dominating the women’s race. “I just wanted to do my own race and I was being told the splits at the aid stations, so I knew I had a solid lead and just had to keep up the momentum. I had done a recce of the route and thought it was really technical, but I did not find it so bad today. That descent to Llandudno was pretty special, amazing to have the ocean right there. Up to Suther Peak was super tough, but I just tried to eat and drink a bunch and things turned around. It is a tough course, especially with the heat and no shelter.”

Marianne Hogan (CA), though not able to reach Croft, had a strong race to finish second:“It was an interesting day, I did not know what to expect as I am coming back from a year of injury. I am glad I came early this year to do the course again before the race. I twisted my ankle around 62 kms and had a tough time coming back from that, but then I saw Ekaterina and eventually was able to catch up to her. My favourite trails are when the mountain meets the ocean and that is why I love Cape Town, as we are served that almost the whole way.”

Ekaterina Mityaeva came fourth last year and was very happy to take third place. “It’s a wonderful race, I really like the technical course as I prefer technical parts. Early on I fell and hurt my knee so it hurt on the downhills. It is lovely to race with such strong girls and I am happy with my result. The views are amazing, in some parts you are so tired and then looking around you feel better.”

Varvara Shikanova, who was third last year, was fourth placed, with Sam Reilly (ZA) taking fifth. Kerry-Ann Marshall (ZA) was sixth. Leah Yingling withdrew at UCT (88km), and Lyndsey McDonald withdrew at Llandudno.

Aleksei Tolstenko Photo by Sam Clark

UTCT – 100 miler (166 km)
Aleksei Tolstenko won the second edition of the 100 miler event in a time of 21:53:04. While slower than the winning time of 21:30:17 set by Fotis Zisimopoulos at the inaugural UTCT last year, Tolstenko was well ahead of the next placed man, South Africa’s Douglas Pickard from KwaZulu-Natal, who finished in 23:53:23. Cape Town local Chris Ngaka had an incredible run to finish third in 25:53:33.

Vasily Korytkin, who had surged to the front in the early stages of the race, withdrew at Constantia Glen after 139 kms, and Vincent Viet, also in the front pack, withdrew at Noordhoek (119.6 km).

Tolstenko says that he had felt unwell in the week before the race, and even the day before was not sure if he would start. “So when I decided to start, I pushed in the first half, to get the gap between me and the others as much as possible, so that if I don’t feel good in the second half, I could maybe still keep the lead.

“This is one of the most technically difficult races in the world, the only thing similar is in Reunion. The most beautiful experience was running for six kilometres on the beach [Noordhoek], the sand was hard and it was great running. It is a very beautiful race and the views and landscapes are amazing. This was my second 100 miles at UTCT, and I think I will choose 100 km next time!”

Pickard sums up: “We started together quite nicely, Vince, Aleksei, Vasily and me, and when we got to Platteklip Vasily ran away from us. Aleksei, Vince and I had a nice pace going until Rocket Road and then it was awesome to watch how those guys ran up a Rocket road, like Formula One cars, they just really flew up there, which in a way worked well for me, because I was able to run my own run. I stuck to my game plan. I got tired at three, four o’clock in the morning, but when the sun started coming up, I got a second wind.

He says he passed Vince between Simonstown and Kommetjie and then caught Vasily going up Chapman’s: “I was feeling good along that section and was actually enjoying the climbs. I found it very technical between Alphen and UCT, so when I got to UCT and I was told that the other guys were not yet at Alphen, I spent time there with my family before heading off to finish. This is so different to what I am used to in the Midlands and the Drakensberg where it’s a lot softer underfoot. The climbs are big there, but easier. Here, the downhills are also extreme, its rock jumping and its jagged in all kinds of directions.”

Another South African, Anele Bans, was the fourth man in (26:22:54), taking fifth place. Luke Webster from the US was fifth, and sixth overall (26:48:38). Lucky Miya (ZA), Jock Green (ZA) and Mike McMonagle (US), also withdrew from the race.

Nicolette Griffioen Photo by Sam Clark

Nicolette Griffioen was the first woman to cross the line after a long night and day in the mountains, in a time of 26:11:08, which earned her 4th place overall. Having withdrawn in the last stages of the race last year, this is a very pleasing result for Griffioen.

“I had a good day. I have had a couple of bad runs lately, so it was really great running at my full capacity both physically and athletically, and not having issues like nutrition or cramping. I had a great run and loved it. I came into the race with the mentality of hiking rather than racing. I took the descents easy, kept the intensity low, ate real food and hydrated properly.

I was behind Noami for quite a while and then passed her during the night in Silvermine [67 km], and  did not see her again. I love the night running section, I really enjoyed it. It is nice just to run by yourself and hear the calls out there. And then you are back into civilisation on suburban trails, which keeps you occupied and takes your mind off things. So it was a good experience.”

Noami Brand came into the finish late into Saturday night after a gruelling 29:47:09 on the trails. She says: “Today was a very long day, I lasted for 30 hours. I didn’t really train for this as I just got married two weeks ago , so I went into this undercooked. I was okay the first 80 kilometres and then had to hang in for another 80 kilometres, which is a long way! This is not the 100 miler to do that with, because it is so hard.”

Jo Keppler spent nearly 32 hours out there for her third place and says this was probably the most difficult 100 miler and ultra she has ever done: “I had to seriously dig deep after the Noordhoek aid station. When I thought I had nothing in the tank, seeing my husband Dave and son Leo in the aid stations certainly gave me strength. The route is spectacular but relentless, technical and with some big climbs, one after the next. I have the utmost respect for anyone who has completed the UTCT 100 miler, and can’t get my head around the times that some of the front runners come in. This race taught me that when I think I have reached my limit, there is still something left in the tank.”

Cornelia Oswald from Austria had featured up front early in the race, but withdrew at Noordhoek (119.6 km).

Toni McCann Photo by Devin Paisley

In the PT55, Robbie Simpson (GB) took the win convincingly in a time of  05:31:30, while Toni McCann from South Africa blitzed the course to take third place overall in 05:47:39.


UT100 – 100 km


  1. Dimitry Mitaev  10:43:06
  2. Caleb Olson (US) 11:02:28
  3. Anthony Costales (US) 11:24:08
  4. Thibaut Baronian (FR) 11:36:29
  5. Simon Desvaux de Marigny (MU) 11:42:01
  6. Mads Louring (DK) 11:48:35
  7. Johannes Löw (DE) 11:55:46
  8. Ryan Sandes (ZA) 12:02:58
  9. Ricardo Chertas (ES) 12:11:55
  10. Darren Thomas (US) 12:29:29 – 11th overall


  1. Ruth Croft (NZ) 12:12:20  – 10th overall
  2. Marianne Hogan (CA) 12:39:53 – 12th overall
  3. Ekaterina Mityaeva 12:44:07 – 13th overall
  4. Varvara Shikanova 13:20:15 – 15th overall
  5. Sam Reilly 13:31:09 – 18th overall
  6. Kerry-Ann Marshall 14:46:08  – 24th overall

UTCT – 100 miler (166 km)


  1. Aleksei Tolstenko  21:53:04
  2. Douglas Pickard (ZA) 23:53:23
  3. Chris Ngaka (ZA) 25:53:33
  4. Anele Bans (ZA) 26:22:54 – 5th overall


  1. Nicolette Griffioen (ZA) 26:11:08 – 4th overall
  2. Naomi Brand (ZA) 29:47:09 – 9th overall
  3. Jo Keppler (ZA) 31:59:37 – 13th overall

PT55 – 55 km


  1. Robbie Simpson (GB) 05:31:30
  2. Mvusi Gcogco (ZA) 05:43:16
  3. Joshua Chigome (ZA) 06:10:10 – fifth overall


  1. Toni McCann (ZA) 05:47:39 – third overall
  2. Caitlin Fielder (NZ) 05:56:52 – fourth overall
  3. Lisa Wimmer (DE) 06:27:48 – seventh overall

TM35 (35 km)


  1. Bastien Peres (FR) 03:53:14
  2. Collin Kanyimo (ZW) 04:01:19
  3. Brode Gleeson (ZA) 04:07:29 – fourth overall


  1. Bianca Tarboton (ZA) 04:04:57 – third overall
  2. Holly Page (US) 04:22:42 – fifth overall
  3. Rebecca Kohne (ZA) 04:31:29 – eighth overall

EX23 – 23 km


  1. Brandon Keeling (ZA) 02:10:42
  2. Tsielo Tsanyane (ZA) 02:11:38
  3. Thabang Madiba (ZA) 02:20:48


  1. Lijane Burger (ZA) 02:29:16 – fifth overall
  2. Meg MacKenzie (ZA) 02:31:58 – seventh overall
  3. Mila Geldenhuys (ZA) 02:35:06 – eighth overall

Full results are available at

The RMB Ultra-trail Cape Town live footage can be watched on YouTube


READ MORE ON: trail trail running South Africa Ultra-trail Cape Town (UTCT)

Copyright © 2024 Hearst