TRAIL Mail #15: Friday 30 Apr 2021
The King and the Dragon.
Racing a river in the Karoo.
Get your kicks with Bix.
They raced a river in the Karoo.
"Dit is 'n baaie mooi ding Andrew,” said Hannes as I relayed the story about the kudu to him.
The Eastern Cape bush is home to a highly elusive antelope. To see a mature kudu bull while walking or running is a highlight. To watch one, head down and drinking water, is a truly lovely experience.
That kudu must have heard me holding my breath, for I hadn’t moved a hair. Those radar ears found me, and then he spotted me frozen in place, not 20 metres away. With a bark and a snort, the bull leaped into the rapids of the Groot Rivier and disappeared downstream.
Amazed, I sprinted to the edge of the small peninsula I had the kudu bull cornered on, just in time to see him crash and bash out the river into the thorn trees and away on the other side...
Read the full story in Andy and Sally Wesson's account of racing the rising waters of a Karoo river in TRAIL 39, on sale now.
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Happy trails to you. Have a great weekend!
WILDSERIES Three Cranes Challenge. Thu 8 – Sun 11 July (KZN)
29km/25km/23km, 29km/40km/23km. Bushwillow Park, Karkloof. Scintillating forest trails through the beautiful indigenous Karkloof Conservancy. Start 6am. wildseries.co.za
Heaven & Hell Mountain Marathon. Wed 22 – Sat 25 September (EC)
5km, 8km, 14km, 22km, 44km, 88km, 176km. Rhodes. Pure, brutal wilderness mountain run in Southern Drakensberg. New 100 miler has over 16,000m vert! Start 5am. R50-R3,800. alpineswifttrails.co.za
You shared your weekend adventures on our Trail Trophy Facebook thread and we enjoyed your images and chirps!
We see a lot of happy smiling faces in these photos, so it's refreshing to see someone sharing candid moments of their low points too. Dean Moore of Secunda had a self-confessed grit smile on the Ultra-Trail Drakensberg SDR 32km course, which was unique and gets the vote of the week.
And how are those towering peaks behind him, yoh!
His photo may appear in a future TRAIL issue – and so could yours. Send us your best action photo, and tell us about the run. (Please don't send a professional event image. It needs to be a photo by you or a friend.)
Prefer using words? Write a letter and if we publish it, you'll receive a pair of Feetures socks
Otter African Trail Run Challenge. Wed 6 – Thu 7 October (EC)
5km/42km. Nature’s Valley. Run the classic route west to east from Stormsriver Mouth to Nature’s Valley with 2,600m of ascent, 11 hour cut-off. otter.run
Otter African Trail Run Race. Fri 8 – Sat 9 October (EC)
5km/42km. Nature’s Valley. Run the classic route west to east from Stormsriver Mouth to Nature’s Valley with 2,600m of ascent, 9 hour cut-off. otter.run
Dassie and RockRat Trail Runs. Sat 9 October (EC)
6km, 10km. Nature’s Valley. Over rocks, roots, pebbles, through riverbeds and up steep climbs. Start 8:30am. R240/R280. otter.run
photo Marzelle van der Merwe
The King and the Dragon
Ryan Sandes (39) has run in the Drakensberg* mountains many times, but the man famous for being the first to win an ultra trail on all seven continents – and also winning the famous Western States 100 in 2017 – has not run a hundred mile trail race on South African soil. Until now.
That first was reserved for the fourth edition of Ultra-Trail Drakensberg UTD 160, which started at the top of Sani Pass at 10am on Friday.
Conditions in Lesotho were testing: a combination of cold, mist, and wind as they battled to the top of Thabana Ntlenyana (3,450m), the highest peak in southern Africa, before plummeting back into South Africa, to eventually finish at the Premier Sani Pass Hotel.
The Red Bull/Salomon star reached the finish just after 9am to post a scintillating race time of 22:30:38 for the 164km route. The route differs from that used in 2018 and 2019, with less vertical gain. His new time eclipses the old best time by six hours and four minutes.
"I am super happy with the way things went. The overall experience of the Ultra-Trail Drakensberg has been phenomenal."
There were 75 starters and 52 finishers in the 100 mile race. Chris Blake was the last finisher in 47:05:16.
Congrats to all who got to the start lines of any of the five race distances. If you couldn’t finish, that’s no indication of your future potential or fortune. Hope to see you there again next year!
*From Afrikaans for Dragon Mountains