The world-famous British ultracross runner Tom Evans was this week attacked and robbed in the northern part of the Table Mountain National Park while he was training for this coming weekend’s Cape Town ultracross race.
Evans has since withdrawn from the race (100 km) and is on his way home.
British media reports that a knife was held threateningly to Evans’ throat during the incident before he was finally robbed of his wedding ring, Garmin watch and an iPhone.
According to media reports, two men armed with knives ambushed Evans on Thursday in the vicinity of Woodstock Cave.
Evans initially resisted him and fought back.
“But when the knife was against my throat, they made it very clear that they would kill me if I kept fighting, so I stopped.”
Evans says that at one stage the suspects threw out the contents of his backpack and asked how much it was worth.
Evans, who had just celebrated his first wedding anniversary, initially refused to give his wedding ring to the suspects. However, the suspects apparently threatened that they would cut off the ring if he did not hand it over voluntarily.
“The knife was pressed harder (against my throat) and I thought (my wife) would rather have me back in one piece than the ring, so I took it off and gave it to them – which was very difficult to do.”
South African National Parks (SANParks) is aware of the incident.
Megan Taplin, manager of the Table Mountain National Park, says an investigation has been launched and “we are committed to offering our full cooperation throughout this process”.
Taplin also gave her assurance that the well-being and safety of the park’s visitors is a priority.
“Every event hosted in the Table Mountain National Park, including the Cape Town ultra-road race, has a detailed safety plan in place, involving SANParks, the City of Cape Town and the South African Police Service,” says Taplin.
Stuart McConnachie, race director of the Cape Town ultra-terrain race, lamented the incident.
“We are extremely saddened and concerned about what has happened to Tom Evans and have reached out to him to offer our support and access to counselling. We were excited to see him at this year’s race 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 work together to find workable solutions to protect this asset that brings so many visitors to our shores.”
McConnachie says the organizers of the race are welcoming more than 400 international runners to Cape Town this week before more than 2,000 runners will take part in the race next weekend.
The Cape Town ultra-road race takes place on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
“To ensure everyone’s safety on our routes, we have intensified our security deployments on the entire route. This includes community policing, private security, metro police and mounted patrols in certain areas.
“We have the assurance of SANParks, the City of Cape Town, the South African Police Service and the Metropolitan Police that there have been increased safety measures on the routes. We continue to work with them to keep runners and walkers informed so we can all enjoy the incredible natural beauty we have on our doorstep.”