120 kms from Port Elizabeth you’ll find the entrance to a dry hinterland called the Baviaanskloof.
Reminiscent of a post-apocalyptic movie scene, ragged, bristly mountains flank dusty brown flats that stretch for over a hundred kilometres into more barren terrain. The Kouga river zigzags through here, as tattered as the land that carries it.
It’s at a place called Geelhoutbos where participants in the Baviaanskloof Trail Run meet Nature’s rabid side.
This race should not be taken lightly. Those with questionable fitness levels should not attempt it.
But it’s not just lack of fitness that poses a threat.
Participants tackle a circular course of approximately 40 kms, while Cape buffalo, black rhino, tortoises, mountain zebra, caracal, kudu, bush pig, bushbuck and baboons spectate.
You might spot the odd leopard too, if you’re not keeping an eye out for deadly Cape cobras.
As if the animals weren’t enough, there’s the possible extreme weather conditions. You might find yourself dehydrating in plus 40°C heat or freezing in snowfall.
The gnarly 40 km route elevates to a height of 1,122 m.
You must reach the 25 km checkpoint within 4.5 hours or face disqualification. Cut-off time for the whole race is seven hours.
It’s crucial to stay on the route. Geelhoutbos is remote. If you get lost you’ll face dire consequences.
Although organisers are serious about safety, assistance is kept to a minimum. You’re on your own for most of it. But organisers may, at their discretion, change the course or reroute runners for safety’s sake.
As you can see, it’s a quirky trail run. One peculiar rule, especially, seems almost designed to alienate entrants.
No cup, no run
The Baviaanskloof Trail Run offers one feeding station, halfway through the race. It’s a sparsely furnished stop. Cups are conspicuously absent.
It’s a world first, this “no-cup, no run” rule. And it’s a simple rule: if you don’t bring your own cup, you don’t run.
It’s not a joke. It’s on the official entry form: “You must provide your own emergency survival blanket, a safety whistle and a durable drinking cup which you are required to carry with you for the duration of the run.”
The Baviaanskloof Trail Run website states that they hand out space blankets and a safety whistle at the start of the race. Yet, the entry form says you need to bring your own. Best make contact with race organisers to clarify which it is.
They have a zero littering policy.
If they catch you littering, you’re disqualified and banned from any future races.
These rules might seem excessive, but the Baviaanskloof is a World Heritage site. Organisers do their utmost to ensure that the region remains unblemished.
Set your sights on the Legend award
The Comrades has the Green Number Club; the Two Oceans has the Blue Number Club. Runners who complete these races ten times receive membership and a number.
Completing the Baviaanskloof Trail Run doesn’t get you a number. Organisers opted for something unique.
Complete the race three times and you receive a framed, signed, limited edition black rhino print by renowned South African wildlife artist, Alan Ainslie.
That’s something to write mom about.
- Race date: 9 September 2017.
- Race start / finish: Geelhoutbos.
- Race length: 40 kms.
- Cut-off time: 7 hours.
- Entry slots: 150.
- Entry closing date: 12h00, Saturday, 19 August 2017.
- Cost: R1,100.
- Entry form: baviaansrun.za.net/files/Baviaans_Entry_Form_2017_PiA_Solar.pdf (direct PDF link).
The cost includes a R400 conservation fee, allocated to the Eastern Cape Parks & Tourism Agency and the Baviaanskloof Nature Reserve Honorary Conservators.
More info: baviaansrun.za.net
- Contact – Evie Raubenheimer
- Telephone – +27415816307
This race seems like an amazing event. It’s not for sissies though. It’s one of the toughest trail runs on the South African calendar.
But the adventurous will find it satisfying.