Sandes gears up for Madagascar

Setting aside his ambitions in the Ultra Trail World Tour, series leader Ryan Sandes is returning to basics as he prepares for his first unassisted race in three years.

South Africa’s top ultra-distance trail runner confirmed on Thursday he would compete at the Racing The Planet Roving Race in Madagascar at the end of the month.

Around 250 athletes from 40 countries are scheduled to compete in the 250km six-stage event, starting on August 31, which is expected to be held in extreme heat.

“I am really excited to be travelling to Madagascar for the first time, to take part in Racing the Planet Madagascar,” Sandes said.

“This is going to be an epic experience with lots of wildlife and some pretty crazy conditions.”

Sandes, 32, won the Transgrancanaria in the Canary Islands in March, finished second at the Mount Fuji trail race in Japan in April, and took fifth place at the Western States 100-miler in California last month, securing the overall lead in the Ultra-Trail World Tour campaign.

He confirmed his focus had been diverted, however, and he would not compete in either of the last two races in the 2014 global series.

The last time he competed in a self-aided contest was at the Racing the Planet event in Nepal in 2011, and he was gearing up for a strong challenge in Madagascar.

“As this is a self-supported multi-day race I will need to get used to running with a 7-9kg backpack again,” he said.

“I have taken a four-week break after the Western States 100, so I am feeling well rested and looking forward to the next adventure.”

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