This weekend sees the start of the 2016 Skyrunner® Series with the Drakensberg Northern Trail SkyMarathon® in the Oliviershoek Pass in the northern Drakensberg, KwaZulu-Natal on Saturday.
Also this year’s SA long distance trail championship, the 40km Drakensberg Northern Trail has attracted a powerful selection of top trail names from around the country, including last year’s winning husband-and-wife duo Iain and Su don Wauchope, Kane Reilly, Christiaan Greyling, Johardt van Heerden, Bruce Arnett, Megan Mackenzie, Nicky Booyens (2015 Skyrunner® Series women’s champ), Nicolette Griffieon and Marzelle van der Merwe.
Deemed by those who ran last year’s inaugural event as not a route for the faint-hearted, the race starts and finishes at the top of the Oliviershoek Pass at a venue aptly called “The Border Post”. The route, which follows the borderline between the Free State and KwaZulu-Natal, tops out at 2 350m above sea level, offering spectacular views of the Free State’s sandstone cliffs and KZN’s sweeping grasslands and forests below. The descent off the escarpment ridge down into KZN is appropriately named Stoney Pass and is well known for its technical difficulty.
Race director Andrew Booth of KZN Trailrunning is very excited about the DNT being both the opening race for the 2016 Skyrunner® Series as well as this year’s SA long distance trail championships.
“It’s a great privilege being able to organise an event where you know that many of South Africa’s best racers will come and compete really hard for the crown of SA’s long distance trail champ. We hope we set a great tone to the Skyrunner® Series and present an excellent event on a very high level,” says Booth.
“Conditions for race day look set to be ideal so the views should be fantastic. Running the ridgeline along the border of the Free State and KZN is an amazing experience. It’s a technical course, and the winners will need to climb well but still have some speed left in the legs to be able to chase the fast final section.
“The field is top quality and competition will be tight – there’re 10 top men and five top women, and it’s anyone’s guess as to who the winners will be.”
Follow the DNT on race day at www.facebook.com/draknorthtrail, on Twitter at @draknorthtrail (use the hashtag #DNT2016), and on SASA’s Facebook page and Twitter feed @skyrunningSA