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Rested Sandes targets Western States victory

After taking a well-earned break from racing, Ryan Sandes will aim to become the first South African to win the Western States 100-mile trail run in California at the end of the month.

Sandes confirmed late on Wednesday, from his pre-race training base in the US, that he hoped to improve on his second-place finish at the 161km event two years ago.

“I would love to go one better than in 2012 but 100 miles is a long way and anything can happen,” he said.

“My first goal will be to finish the race and enjoy the experience. The race has such an awesome atmosphere.”

The country’s top ultra-distance trail runner, Sandes finished less than 20 minutes behind American course record holder Timothy Olsen in his Western States debut in 2012.

Olsen went on to defend his title last year, while Sandes was forced to withdraw ahead of the race with an ankle injury.

He bounced back this season with a solid victory at the 125km Transgrancanaria in the Canary Islands in March, and less than a month later he smashed the record for the fastest crossing of the Drakensberg, a 204km hike, with countryman Ryno Griesel.

In April, he took second place at the 168km Mount Fuji race in Japan, stepping on the podium for the second time in the Ultra Trail World Tour (UTWT) season.

Sandes was confident he would be ready for another strong performance at the Western States event, one of the world’s most prestigious ultra-distance races, which forms the eighth leg of the UTWT series.

“I have had a great year so far and I am really excited for the race,” he said.

“My preparation and training has gone really well over the past few weeks.

“Due to all the races I have run this year I am focusing a lot on making sure I have recovered properly for Western States.”


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