It was an American sweep atop the podium at the 2021 Ultra-Trail Cape Town (UTCT) in South Africa where Courtney Dauwalter and Jim Walmsley won without challenge from the rest of their respective fields, but certainly faced the challenges of the race’s unforgiving terrain.
The 97-kilometer (60-mile) course features some 4,560 meters (15,000 feet) of vertical gain as it makes its way amongst the famed trails in and around Cape Town. Runners reach the race’s high point of about 1,000 meters (3,300 feet) above sea level in the race’s first quarter, with the route alternating between technical, rock-laced terrain and more runnable trails.
The race began at 4:00 a.m. local time on Saturday, November 27, in the dark and fog and with temperatures around 15 degrees Celsius (60 Fahrenheit). On the higher terrain, fog, mist, rain, and high winds kept everyone attentive while down lower conditions abated. Cloud cover moderated the temperature to a high of about 21 Celsius (70 Fahrenheit), but high humidity followed runners from start to finish.
2021 Ultra-Trail Cape Town Women’s Results
Win, lose, or draw, you can always count on the USA’s Courtney Dauwalter to be smiling, and that’s what happened as she dominated the women’s race. After some early race back-and-forths, Dauwalter settled into the lead by the second aid station of Kloofnek at 20 kilometers into the race. Machine like, her lead only grew at nearly every checkpoint from there such that she finished with an almost one-hour lead. Dauwalter’s run looks to be the second-best all-time women’s performance at UTCT.
In the race for the rest of the women’s podium, Marianne Hogan of Canada made the strongest bid. She settled into second position also around 20k into the race and it appears she never looked back. Maryline Nakache of France, too, ran strong all day, hovering close to second place and once in a while dropping back into fourth place, before settling in for her third-place finish.
South Africans Ann Ashworth and Kerry-Ann Marshall completed the women’s top five.
Women’s Top-Five Finishers
- Courtney Dauwalter (U.S.) — 11:20:04
- Marianne Hogan (Canada) — 12:15:13
- Maryline Nakache (France) — 12:27:06
- Ann Ashworth (South Africa) — 12:50:57
- Kerry-Ann Marshall (South Africa) — 13:14:52
2021 Ultra-Trail Cape Town Men’s Results
In the end and like the women’s race, it was a no-contest win for Jim Walmsley of the United States.
For the race’s first half, Walmsley, Italy’s Andreas Reiterer, and France’s Sébastien Spehler leapfrogged, at times running together or near to each other and at others accordioning out by a few minutes. It wasn’t until after the 50k mark where Walmsley started to gap the rest of the field, though it remained close for another 20k.
However, when the top men arrived to Constantia Nek aid station for the second time at 70k, Walmsley was all alone with no other runners in sight for over 10 minutes. By the time he crossed the finish line back in Cape Town, it was nearly a half hour until second place Spehler rolled over the line and over 50 minutes until Reiterer completed the men’s podium. The race organization proclaimed Walmsley’s finish a new UTCT course record, besting the 2017 effort of Prodigal Khumalo at 9:50:00 by about 3.5 minutes.
Mathieu Blanchard of France and Daniel Claassen of South Africa rounded out the men’s top five.
Men’s Top-Five Finishers
- Jim Walmsley (U.S.) — 9:47:20
Sébastien Spehler (France) — 10:16:20
Andreas Reiterer (Italy) — 10:41:21
- Mathieu Blanchard (France) — 10:54:18
- Daniel Claassen (South Africa) — 10:56:16