Date: 06 March 2021
Venue: Alpine Heath, Northern Drakensber, KZN
Distances: 40km, 20km, 10km, 5km
The story behind DNT.....
In 2015 Skyrunning was really taking off in RSA, but the Drakensberg in KZN had no offerings on the circuit. This seemed bizarre considering its status, but as we would discover the high berg offered very few options with most of declared Wilderness and unavailable to formal events. We knew we wanted to go North and find a trail well positioned between Durban, JHB and Bloemfontein and the top of Oliviershoek presented itself as an obvious place using the lower ‘Berg and its ridges.
With the help of the Zunckels from Bergville we were introduced to Craig van Rensberg who was busy renovating the Windmill cottages having recently purchased the establishment. We established a few possible routes before seeking permission from all the land owners. For the long course we put together a large loop, this idea has to be abandoned when one of the main land owners simply would not entertain the idea of us running on his land. Fortunately everyone else was right behind the idea, so we reworked the route to run back on itself in parts along the higher ridges, avoiding prohibited lands. This brought in what is probably the most famous part of the Marathon Course, Vulture Pass, a torturously steep climb not long after the main aid station at Greenfire Lodge.
The First Race
Being in the mountains any weather is possible and Year 1 race day dawned misty and wet. Our worst fears materialized when the leaders of the 40km including the likes of Iain Don Wauchope and Lucky Miya, emerged out of the mist and back on the finish line after only 10km. Half of the field had been sent on the 10km split! In true trail running spirit they headed back out, effectively starting the race again and just like the first Ingeli ended up running closer to 50km. Iain and Lucky still crossed the line in first place and second place catching all those who ran the correct course that day.
Despite the course errors the feedback was great and the trail community got behind the race which has grown year on year. In 2020 we see a full field of runners on both the 40km Mountain Marathon and 20km Mountain Challenge.
in 2015 the race served has SA Champs (in the days when trail running had such a thing) and Johardt van Heerden won comfortably in the current record of 3hrs44mins.