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TTrail running is popular around South Africa, particularly in Western Cape province, 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 these routes start just a few kilometres from Cape Town’s City Bowl.
If you’re visiting Johannesburg, you could drive out north-west to the Magaliesberg to try some of the trails in this area, such as the routes at Van Gaalen Cheese Farm.
In KwaZulu-Natal, parts of the Midlands offer peaceful trail runs through forests – Karkloof is a popular choice, with its beautiful gorge and waterfall.
If you fancy getting a little extreme, head to Underberg in KwaZulu-Natal, 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 – although you will need your passport, as it’s in Lesotho.
Some of the big national annual events to consider include:
Table Mountain Challenge, Western Cape
The Table Mountain Challenge takes place in September. The route is 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 Wildrun
This 3-day, 112km run from the Great Kei River to the iconic landmark Hole In The Wall in Eastern Cape province 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 run also takes place in September.
Kalahari Augrabies Extreme Marathon, Northern Cape
This race covers around 250km in 9 days – in the sweltering conditions of the Kalahari Desert, in the Augrabies Falls National Park around the awe-inspiring waterfall on the Orange River. Do you have what it takes? It’s a very impressive achievement to tick off your bucket list, if you do. This event generally takes place in October, after the 2 events listed above.
TTravel 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. If you hate wind and rain, you don’t want to visit Western Cape from May to September, either.
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. Organised annual events will all have their own fee structures; consult their websites.
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. A hat and sunscreen are year-round necessities too.
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