Having participated in trail races in every corner of the globe, Ryan Sandes needs no intro- duction. He was declared one of the top endurance athletes in the world by the founder and CEO of RacingThePlanet. Having recently won the Drakensberg Challenge, we catch up with him to see what is next for him when it comes to blazing the trails.
Describe the feelings you experience out on the trail?
I feel a sense of freedom and escapism when on the trails. Our daily lives are so busy, there’s always something distracting me, whereas on the trails it’s just about putting one foot in front of another.
What draws you back to running the most?
It’s more than just a sport it’s a way of life. I love the simplicity and the direct connection to nature and being able to push myself physically and mentally.
Tell us about your crazy 100 miler during lockdown. Running 100 miles around my house was one of the toughest challenges I’ve ever done mentally. It was hard to get into a rhythm. Especially running through my dining room and past my bed- room, where my wife Vanessa and son Max were sleeping, when I was going through the night. It was rewarding to pull it off but not something I’d do again in a hurry.
What is your favourite guilty cheat?
It would be chocolate. I’ve got quite a sweet tooth.
Are there any local charities or causes close to your heart? Darg in Hout Bay has always been very close to my heart- I’ve got a soft spot for animals.
Tell us about your recent win in the Drakens- berg? I’ve just come back from running the
Ultra-Trail Drakensberg 100-miler. It’s a race that starts in Lesotho and does a big loop, summiting the highest peak in Southern Africa, Thabana, which is 3500m. I’ve been competing for 14 years but I’ve never raced a 100-miler in SA before. One of the pos- itives of Covid is being forced to spend more time at home and realise what an amazing country we live in.
What is next on the running map for you?
I’m hoping to race the Ultra-Trail Mont Blanc at the end of August. It all depends on being able to get to Europe.
What impact has Covid had on the sport from a professional point of view?
It’s been tough for the sports industry in general from events to professional athletes. It’s been hard to compete internationally. One of the positive things for trail running is that a lot more people are looking after their health outdoors and going into the mountains. Professional athletes are being forced to think outside the box a little and get involved in different projects. For me it was www.13peaks.co.za
How has becoming a father influenced or changed you?
Fatherhood has changed me in a positive way in all facets of my life. I used to put a lot more pres- sure on myself. When you have a child, you realise there’s more to life than winning. In a way it relaxes me more going into an event. When you’re more relaxed you do your best.