We are hours away from the start of the inaugural iSimangaliso Trail Challenge, the first event of its kind to take place in the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, South Africa’s first proclaimed UNESCO World Heritage Site – and organisers and park officials are ready to showcase the captivating beauty and biodiversity value of this unique landscape.
The trail running event takes place over three days / stages, with participants arriving in the coastal town of St Lucia from all over the country from Friday noon. Stage 1 is a 6km night run held on the beach at full moon. Family and friends are encouraged to join participants on this stage to take in the moon-swept beaches covered with ghost crabs, break the ice and warm up the legs! The second stage will test participants, looping them south along the beach, through the Maphelane section of the Park for 36km and back across the beach past the Lake St Lucia Estuary.
The final stage is a point-to-point run from one of iSimangaliso’s jewels, Cape Vidal, back to Sugarloaf Campsite on the Lake St Lucia Estuary. The thrill of this stage will be running through the ‘big game’ section of the Eastern Shores, where Park staff will be escorting participants through grasslands and forest patches with sweeping views of Lake St Lucia and the Indian Ocean.
The event is the culmination of years of conceptualisation by iSimangaliso CEO Andrew Zaloumis. Zaloumis says, “We see this event as a challenge and opportunity for the trail running community to explore and tangibly experience otherwise inaccessible areas of the Park. It affords runners a rare and incredibly special privilege.”
Event organisers, KZN Trail Running, have hit the ground running and the race village is taking shape. “After over a year of planning, it is exciting to see things coming together. The arrival of the final piece of the puzzle, the participants themselves, will see a dream come true for many. But that is when the real work starts for us!” says Andrew Booth of KZN Trail Running.
For Park information, visit www.isimangaliso.com