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By Riel Hauman
(c) 2008 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved

History was made at South Africa's oldest 100-mile race, the CuPedis Washie ultramarathon between the coastal towns of Port Alfred and East London, last Saturday when Vanessa Wayland became the first woman to win outright in the 32 years of the race's existence.  Wayland ran 16:19:52 to beat three-time champion John Magagane.

Another first, but a much less positive one, happened when the ugly spectre of South Africa's inordinately high level of violent crime raised its head midway through the race and last year's female winner, Susan Hurter, was attacked by an assailant and dragged into the bushes beside the road.  Hurter was severely traumatised, but eventually finished the race in eleventh place (third woman).

Wayland, who runs for Golden Reef Road Runners, beat Magagane by just over 45 minutes. "This was girl-power at its best," Wayland, 41, said after her win. She took the lead after about 120 km and ran especially strongly over the last 30 km.  "There were a few nasty surprises along the way, but the weather was brilliant," Wayland added.  "I will definitely return to defend my title next year."

Her time is the fastest by a woman since Rae Bisschoff finished third overall in 14:53:06 in 1998.  She has won the Golden Reef 100-miler three times.

Hurter was attacked at 2 a.m. and dragged into thick bushes alongside the lonely road by her hair. The man demanded that she switch off her light -all the runners carry one at night to protect them from on-coming traffic- but she refused and fought back, screaming loudly.

About 300m away, Alec Wainwright, who was acting as a second for his son Stuart, heard her screams and drove to her as fast as he could. The attacker saw him coming, released Hurter and disappeared into the darkness.

The traumatised Hurter decided after about 50 minutes to continue. Stuart Wainwright insisted on running alongside her for the rest of the race. She finished in 21:52:11, almost three hours slower than last year.

Among the runners who could not finish the gruelling course was Eric Wright, who has completed 20 runs and won the race in 1997.

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