Often we can drill down to one person’s action, often unintentional, that brings about a new trail/race/event. Here we have Andre Du Toit to thank (as trail runners we have a lot to thank him for as he is part of SATIB who provide our insurance) who linked KZNTR and EWT (Endangered Wildlife Trust), essentially two of his clients. In 2017 EWT began a project in the Soutpansberg, one of South Africa’s most diverse mountain ranges that is still currently afforded very little official protection. Their mission was to acquire land and create a land stewardship programme whereby current land owners would commit to managing their land for conservation purposes. The project is underway and gaining serious momentum. Two properties are now owned by EWT (Medike East and West) and a number have joined the stewardship programme such that the extent of the properties is now 27000ha. But this is just really the start. Andre and Yolan Friedmann (CEO of EWT) met about the future of eco-tourism on the properties, both of them committed trail runners it was an obvious direction to explore. The introductions were made and by March 16 2020 we had made a trip to explore and prospect.
The project and its objectives of conserving some of South Africa’s most beautiful terrain is perfectly aligned with our objectives and we stuck a generous agreement with EWT whereby they would own 75% of any trail running events we established with them, and KZNTR 25%. We are planning two events – this the Soutpansberg Mountain Marathon and a 4 day event run in stages exploring the entire western section of the Zoutpansberg (Afrikaans).
While the course has not been made final, there is no doubt it will be a challenge in terms of climbing and at times technicality. It will include, rocks, rivers, sand, forest, grasslands, wetlands, waterfalls and more. It’s a very wild space up there with a surprise around each corner.