The Mnweni marathon was born in the midwinter of 2000 when trail-running legend Bruce Arnett and friend Mark Tannian pioneered the original route of this race, starting their hike in clear sunny weather from Isandhlwana Police Station and ending, about 50 kilometres and a raging blizzard later, at Club Maluti.
The allure of the challenge grew, and the first running of the point-to-point route as a race took place in January 2001. 11 runners took part in what was to all intents and purposes a gathering of friends who had set themselves to conquer the route. In 2002 the route was changed to today’s circular and less extreme format due to the logistical difficulties associated with a linear race that spanned such extreme terrain.
Over the years, entries have grown, largely by word of mouth, but recently through listings on internet and other trail running schedules, from about 30 in 2006 to around 70 in 2010 to the event being fully subscribed with the 100 runner limit being reached in 2012 , many of them now on an “annual pilgrimage”, and confirmed members of the Mnweni family.
Rondavel, dorm and camping accommodation is available at the venue.
Only dorm and camping are still available as the Rondavel accommodation bookings have been carried over from the 2020 event.
Catering will be available at the venue from Friday evening through Saturday morning, provided by La Barista.
Mnweni, ‘the place of fingers’, is located between the Royal Natal National Park and the Cathedral range in the heart of the Drakensberg escarpment. In years past, this stretch of the Drakensberg was affectionately seen by hardy mountaineers as “remote and treacherous” as the paths are “long and steep”. The terrain is mountainous and the weather unpredictable.
The event will start at the Mnweni Cultural and Hiking Centre, which is located approximately 30km from Bergville, KZN.
The main event is the 40km Marathon – a proper mountain adventure suitable ONLY for the experienced trail runner and/or hiker. The route shows off the architectural marvels of Mnweni: the great buttresses, basalt colonnades, and masonry gargoyles and spires! There are 3 shorter distances of 20km, 10km and 6km making a great weekend of running for all levels of runners and walkers.
The 20km is significantly easier. It starts off the same way as the 40km, but peels off back down the Mnweni River after about 9km. Its still no walk in the park, but is significantly more runnable.
The 10km and 5km are relatively easy with lots of flat river side running.