Shocking Attack On British Ultra Runner
Tom Evans mugged while training in South Africa – more attacks during races
Tom Evans is a 31-year-old former Army Captain and one of the most promising British ultrarunners around. His motto on a highly impressive Power of 10 athlete profile is: "Any distance, any terrain". He is as tough as they come but he withdrew from Ultra-Trail Cape Town (UTCT) 100K race on Saturday 25 November 2023 in truly shocking circumstances.
runABC reporter Alan Newman was alarmed to read reports that the Belgrave Harrier, who had been among the favourites to take the UTCT 100K title this year, was ambushed and mugged at knifepoint while training for the race on Table Mountain on Friday 17 November.
Evans was running alone when he was rugby-tackled to the ground by two men, one of whom removed a machete from his backpack and pressed it to Evans' neck when he fought back. The vicious attackers escaped with Evans' iPhone 15 and Garmin watch – together worth about £2,500 – plus his wedding ring despite his appeals having married international triathlete Sophie Coldwell just over a year ago.
After the muggers ran off, telling Evans not to follow them, he took a direct route to the University of Cape Town to report the crime. He later used social media to explain his decision to return home without staying to compete in the UTCT 100K event, posting:
“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.”
Tom Evans gave this account of the frightening encounter on his popular Instagram pages...
The UTCT 100K includes 5,000m of elevation on highly technical trails within Table Mountain National Park – part of a stunning UNESCO World Heritage Site – and is one of five races held over the UTCT weekend. UTCT Race Director Stuart McConnachie issued the following statement after the incident:
“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 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.”
Security was stepped up for the race weekend, with Stuart McConnachie adding: “We have the assurance of SANParks, the City of Cape Town, South African Police Service 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.”
Sadly, despite the best efforts of the authorities and warnings issued to competitors, there were reports of three further mugging incidents in the UTCT 100-mile race on Saturday 25 November, and potentially two more on Sunday 26 November – exactly what Tom Evans had been fearful of when he decided to put personal safety before ultramarathon glory.
Table Mountain National Park has become a hotspot for violent acquisitive crimes and it is incredibly sad and harrowing to hear of an amazing endurance event being blighted in this way and competitors being at risk while simply enjoying the mountains and their sport.
It does make us all the more aware of the need to consider our safety when training and competing in remote areas, particularly while carrying and wearing expensive and easily stolen items like watches, cameras, phones, and even our footwear and clothing.
Stay safe everyone.
Photo: Tom Evans courtesy Power of 10 personal profile