South Africa’s 2017 Skyrunner® Series kicks off this weekend with the Drakensberg Northern Trail SkyMarathon®, 40km of exquisite, lung-busting exertion on mostly single track, set on the Oliviershoek Pass in the northern Drakensberg, KwaZulu-Natal.
Renowned for its challenging route, the Drakensberg Northern Trail is always a fitting start to the annual series. Names to watch this year in the men’s category will be Pedro Calderon and Bruce Arnett, both of whom are likely to be given a good run for their money by Andrea Biffi, providing his legs have shaken the ardours of his strong second place at the Addo Elephant Trail Run 100 Miler just two weeks ago.
In the women’s race, Nicolette Griffieon will be defending her DNT title, having proven herself to be in top form this past weekend when she won the mixed team category with team mate AJ Calitz at the Cell C AfricanX Trail Run.
Competition for the rest of the women’s podium will be tight, with Holly Page, Sue Chapman, Julia Hackland, Robyn Greyling, Zoe Papadakis and Kim Westbrook vying for honours.
Ideally located, this SkyMarathon® course straddles two provinces accessing high altitude and technical terrain of both KwaZuku Natal and the Free State, with one of the major features being the ridgeline that forms the border between the two. In true spectacular skyrunning fashion, runners will experience places where they are able to view the expanse of KZN below them on one side and the undercut sandstone cliffs of the Free State on the other.
“This is only the third running of the DNT, and it has grown in popularity every year,” says race director Andrew Booth of KZN Trailrunning. “The surge in entries in 2017 has been considerable, and with the demand we managed to extend the field limit from 120 entries to 150. The race is well positioned, and its popularity is a strong sign that the interest in longer and more technical trail running events in South Africa is growing.”
Follow the DNT on race day at www.facebook.com/draknorthtrail, on Twitter at @draknorthtrail (use the hashtag #DNT2017), and on SASA’s Facebook page and Twitter feed @skyrunningSA