Chris Ngaka will be participating in the UTCT 100 miler which takes participants from the northern mountain range of the Mother City to the more remote southern mountains, taking in additional trails from Silvermine to Kalk Bay, Kommetjie, Simonstown and beyond. The route has 7 516m of vertical gain and the Event offers a distance to suit every trail runner – 100 miler, 100km, 55km, 35km and 23km.
Who is Chris Ngaka?
The 41-year-old Ngaka is an anaesthesiologist from Cape Town and has been on a journey of building up to his first 100 miler at the RMB UTCT. He has always been a runner, but, growing up in the village of Mount Fletcher in the rural Eastern Cape, he says his early running was out of necessity rather than recreational, running after cattle. “Throughout school, I always enjoyed running, but it’s over the last ten years since finishing my medical studies and starting working, that I got into running and entering races, and running ultras which I really enjoy for the last seven years. “I’ve always run in the mountains; road running never really impressed me,” he says.
“My first proper race was the Sky Run ‘lite’ in 2015, which was 65kms; I was a complete novice to ultras; up until then, I was doing shorter distances. My friend Wim got me into more competitive running; he was more of a road runner and did many Comrades Marathons, which did not appeal to me. He encouraged me to try Sky Run and our training was just regular runs we did at the Knysna Forest Marathon,” he says. “That was the first race that really pushed me, and I then did the Tsitsikamma Ultra-trail which is 62kms and then I did my first UTCT 100km in 2018, I remember Suther Peak being terrible, it was like coming up a desert hill, because it was extremely hot.”
“That was the toughest race I have ever done, my first 100km race, and I crossed the finish line completely exhausted, but to me, it was very special; I will always remember my kids at the finish and I still have that memory engraved in my heart. I did UTCT 100km again in 2019 and in 2021 as well, in a record of 13 hours 35. I think with all the experience over the years, and knowing the course, I was able to just have a great run.’’
“In June this year, I did the Lavaredo Ultra-trail in Italy, which was 120kms in the Dolomites; my longest distance in a race so far. European mountains are different to our mountains, so it was not easy to prepare for that, or the altitude. The experience was a real challenge but it went really well and worked out how I wanted it to. I had a goal of sub 20 hours and I managed to achieve that.
“What I like about an ultra is that it’s unpredictable and I think I have the right head for it. I’m not expecting anything other than tough for this sort of distance. I will plan carefully in terms of nutrition but I won’t be pressuring myself to run a certain time, the goal would be to finish,” says Chris Ngaka.
Preparing for the Race
“In training for 100 miler I would do about 120kms a week, with some quality sessions and the long runs over the weekend. I do include some strength and stretching. In October I did the Cederberg Traverse 100km which was a perfect training run and simulation for the upcoming big day. I learned lots of lessons on the day which I have banked for the end of November.”
“I train mostly in the early mornings, as that is best for my family unless there are school sports on a Saturday. My wife is very supportive of this hobby of mine and I think in the end my family does benefit because you get out there and come back so excited, and so I have so much to give,” he says. “My body is feeling strong and I’m in a very good head space. I don’t take the task at hand lightly, so I am a bit nervous. I am ticking along some mileage and will start to taper soon.”
RMB Ultra-trail Cape Town takes place from the 25th to the 27th of November and attracts top runners from all over the world, providing a much-needed boost to the Cape Town economy.
All images were supplied by: www.Sportograf.com