Elite Ultrarunner Tom Evans Mugged At Knifepoint In Cape Town
Having been mugged and attacked at knifepoint while training on the trails of Table Mountain in Cape Town, South Africa, decorated British ultrarunner Tom Evans has withdrawn from the Ultra-Trail Cape Town (UTCT).
Evans was due to compete in the UTCT 100km race this Saturday 25 November.
A former Captain in the British Army, Evans was running alone when he was targeted and rugby-tackled to the ground by two men, one of whom removed a machete knife from his backpack when Evans began to fight back.
With the knife pressed up against his neck, 31-year-old Evans was forced to give up all possessions he was carrying for the sake of survival. These included his iPhone 15, his Garmin watch – both worth about £2500 – and his wedding ring. Having celebrated his first wedding anniversary with international triathlete Sophie Coldwell only a matter of days ago, Evans had worn this ring for just a year.
The two men then fled, while Evans returned to report the crime.
The decision to withdraw
Understandably shaken, Evans took to social media to outline the incident and his decision to return home rather than race this year’s UTCT 100km event.
He said: “I am pretty beat up but I will be physically okay.
“I have decided to go home and make sure that I am mentally alright which is something that I have always taken for granted.
“For those in Cape Town, look after yourself and those around you and please stay safe.”
Ending more positively, the GB athlete went on to acknowledge his “awesome year” on the trails and how he was not going to let two criminals spoil his 2023 success. This includes an outstanding win at this year’s Western States 100 – America’s most iconic ultramarathon – in 14:40:22, the fourth-fastest time in the event’s history.
Evans has had a remarkable run – quite literally – at the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc, too, having claimed third in the legendary 106-mile race in 2022 and won the 100km Courmayeur/Champex/Chamonix race in 2018.
He also broke the course records at the Coastal Challenge Costa Rica and the South Downs Way 50 in 2018, and at the 102km Tarawera Ultramarathon in New Zealand in 2020.
But perhaps most exceptional of all is Evans’ entry into ultra running territory. Off the back of a bet made with a friend, Evans made a massive mark on the sport when he took on the gruelling Marathon des Sables in 2017 – a notoriously unforgiving 250km race held over six days in the Sahara Desert. He finished third, and in doing so claimed the best result ever achieved by a European in that race.
Action from the UTCT
Hosted on highly technical trails within the Table Mountain National Park – part of a stunning UNESCO World Heritage Site – the UTCT 100km race features almost 5,000m of elevation and is one of five races held over the UTCT weekend.
In light of the incident between Evans and his two attackers, UTCT Race Director Stuart McConnachie issued a statement offering support to the GB athlete.
He said: “We are extremely saddened and concerned by what happened to Tom Evans and have reached out to him to offer our support and access to counselling. We were excited to have him race at this year’s RMB Ultra-trail Cape Town but respect his decision to return to the UK.
“The natural beauty of Cape Town and Table Mountain is our greatest asset and perhaps this incident is the catalyst needed for everyone to pull together to find workable solutions to protect this asset that brings so many visitors to our shores”
McConnachie also affirmed the commitment to safeguarding the 2,000 participants who are still set to race in Cape Town at the weekend.
He continued: “We have the assurance of SANParks, the City of Cape Town, SAPS and Metro Police that strong measures are in place for safety on the trails. We continue to work with them to communicate concerns for runners and hikers, so we can all enjoy the incredible natural beauty we have on our doorstep.”
It is hoped that Evans will recover well from this scary incident, and look to fight for first place at the UTCT another year.
Image credit: Red Bull