Trail running in South Africa is extremely popular, and a growing sport. And why wouldn’t it be, with such a vast variety of natural terrain to conquer? Whether you’re a competitor or a recreational runner, come and see what it’s all about.

Did you know?

There are more species of plants on Table Mountain than there are throughout the United Kingdom, one of the reason runners love it so much.

Trail running is particularly popular in the Western Cape, where competitive events take place almost every week. Table Mountain, one of the New7Wonders of Nature, is home to several hundred trails on its own and what’s more, these routes start just a few kilometers from the Cape Town City Centre.

If you’re visiting Johannesburg, you could take a drive out to the Magaliesberg to escape the big city lights and try out some of the trails in this area, such as the routes at Van Gaalen Cheese Farm.

In KwaZulu-Natal, parts of the Midlands, such as Karkloof, offer peaceful trail runs through forests. If you fancy getting a little extreme, head up to Underberg and conquer the unforgiving route up Sani Pass and enjoy a well-deserved beer when you get to the highest pub in Africa at the top.

Some of the big national annual events to consider taking part in include:

Table Mountain Challenge, Western Cape

The Table Mountain Challenge takes place in September. The route for this event is approximately 37km long and is seriously tough going. The scenery from this iconic landmark, however, will make all the pain worthwhile and you will meet many interesting characters along the way. In recent years, this event has been completed by the likes of ‘Spiderman’ and ‘Superman’.

Wild Coast Run

This 112km run from the Great Kei River to the iconic landmark Hole In The Wall in the Eastern Cape is a must for anyone wanting to get a feel for rural South Africa. Along the Wild Coast you will see amusing sights such as cows and goats relaxing on the beach, while enthusiastic locals cheer you along the way. This also takes place in September.

Kalahari Augrabies Extreme Marathon, Northern Cape

This race involves covering approximately 250km in nine days, in sweltering conditions. Do you have what it takes? It’s a very impressive achievement to tick off the list if you do. This event generally takes place in October, after the two events listed above.

Travel tips & Planning info

Best time to visit

If you don't like running in the heat, rather avoid the summer months between December and March.

What will it cost

There is no fee to run many trails in South Africa, though you may need to pay a nominal amount if the trail is in a national or provincial park.

What to pack

Don’t underestimate the amount of water you will need when trail running in South Africa. Bring your camel pack or buy one here if need be.

What to eat

Trail runners will likely be pleased to hear that Italian restaurants are common in South Africa, so there are plenty of places to carbo-load.

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