The three-day countdown has begun to the sixth event in the 2015 SA Skyrunner® Series, the Wolkberg SkyMarathon®, hosted by Stanford Lafe College and a part of the two-day Clemengold Wolkberg Trail Run stage race this weekend, when 150 runners will brave the moody conditions of the Wolkberg in winter.
As the 34km SkyMarathon® falls on Day One of the 58km stage race, runners legs and lungs will be truly put to the test, facing an elevation gain of 1 781m over the distance of the race, with a gruelling climb over a 7km distance to the highest point on the route, the Iron Crown (2 126m) after just 11.5km.
Runners will begin in Georges Valley at an altitude of 1 250m and head up an old logging road which will take them to the beautiful Iron Crown grasslands, en-route to summiting the Iron Crown. From the top, runners will head down the other side of the mountain on some magnificent single track to finish in the picturesque village of Haenertsburg Village.
While entrants were given the option of entering only the SkyMarathon®, most are taking up the challenge of also tackling the second day of the stage race.
Part of the northern sub-range of the Drakensberg, the Wolkberg is about four hours’ drive from Johannesburg and some 34km from Tzaneen. With the village of Haenertsburg nestled at its foot, the Iron Crown is the highest point in the Limpopo Province.
Conditions in the Wolkberg this time of year can be unpredictable, with freezing temperatures and thick mist commonplace, often reducing visibility to a minimum. Predictions for this year look hopeful, with temperatures forecast to be in the mid 20 degrees.
Last year’s race winner Benny Roux will be back to defend his title, hoping to beat his record of 3:03:43.
Race director Craig Carolan is particularly excited to be able to showcase the spectacular beauty of the Wolkberg area to the skyrunning community.
“It is an honour for us to have the first day of the Clemengold Wolkberg Trail Run certified as a SkyMarathon®. With last year’s inaugural race achieving so much positive press, we are excited to host an even larger event this year. We’re extremely proud of the unspoilt beauty of our area with stunning views over the Wolkberg itself, as well as Ebenezer Dam and the Lowveld some 1 300m below.”
Carolan says that once people have visited the Wolksberg region, they always return.
“Haenertsburg and the Magoebaskloof is a beautiful, historic and relatively untouched stop-off on the way to the Kruger Park. The Clemengold Wolkberg Trail Run consists of five different events over a two-day period. The second day is open to runners of all ages and experience, with distances ranging from 4km to the 25km event. The day will also play host to a number of other race distances to cater for the entire family, after which athletes, family and friends can enjoy some true Magoebaskloof hospitality at Stanford Lake College’s mini-Food & Wine festival.”
For more information about the South African Skyrunning Association, or the 2015 Skyrunner® Series, please visit www.skyrunning.co.za