Running across two countries and out of this world – The Richtersveld Transfrontier Wildrun® 2016

Image by: Ian Corless

Five days, two African countries, one ancient mountain wilderness with lunar landscapes – local and international trail runners alike are racing to put their names down for South Africa’s first cross-border trail race between SA and Namibia, the Richtersveld Transfrontier Wildrun®, taking place from 13 – 17 June 2016.  

The event is a 200km five-day trail race through the ancient arid landscape of the /Ai/Ais-Richtersveld Transfrontier Park that straddles the border between South Africa and Namibia.

From the crystal fields of Sendelingsdrif in South Africa to the infamous giant boulders of Tatasberg, the race explores the northernmost reaches of the South African section of the /Ai/Ais-Richtersveld Transfrontier Park, and then crosses the Orange River into Namibia to run the bottom section of the Fish River Canyon.  

The daily distances over 5 days range from 21km to 49 km, and with the challenges of sandy terrain, rocky mountainous sections and navigating remote areas with compulsory GPS devices, the race is not for the faint-hearted.

Top runners participating in the 2016 race include: Linda Doke (RSA), Elisabet Barnes (UK) and one of the UK’s leading adventure journalists and athletes, Tobias Mews. Linda has previously represented South Africa in the World Trail Running Championships and her latest achievement includes winning the Addo Elephant 100 miler trail run.

Elisabet is the current ladies record holder for Marathon des Sables and has an equally impressive running CV so far. “I am very excited to be participating in the Richtersveld Transfrontier Wildrun® and it will be my first time in South Africa. I love the fact that it is a small race and that the route is not marked and I am sure that I will be able to discover some beautiful scenery. I look forward to what will undoubtedly be a unique experience,” says Barnes.

The race is limited to 80 runners due to the tremendous logistics involved in hosting a race in such a remote area and to ensure a unique and intimate experience. Participants are wellsupported by the Wildrunner crew throughout each day’s course, with daily check-points, aid station, event sweeper and radio communications. Runners stay in individual tented accommodation during the Wildrun -The full campsite is moved each night as the race progresses through the park.  The logistics involved in setting up an event in such a remote location are immense and include transporting 34 tons of water; moving 25 tons of luggage and water equipment throughout the event; setting up, taking down and transporting 400 tents, stretchers, mattresses and bedding; moving and preparing 1 ton of food and carrying 100kg of firewood.

Other runners participating include well-known international charity runner Gavin Sandford, who is participating with his partner, is also doing a ‘double Marathon des Sables’ later this year in aid of three charities. In 2014, Gavin ran 45 marathons in 45 days while pushing an oak barrel on a wheel chair filled with donations for his charities.

The oldest runner in the race is South African Larry Claassen, who is 70 years old. Larry took on the Wildcoast Wildrun in 2015 with his daughter, Janine, and they are set for another challenging shared experience in the Richtersveld.

Besides having completed one of the most beautiful and challenging races in South Africa, runners will be able to experience the uniqueness of the Richterveld’s biodiversity. The  /Ai/Ais-Richtersveld Transfrontier Park is home to over 2,700 different plant species, around 600 of them endemic to the area and found nowhere else in the world. The race is held in winter when the temperatures in the region are moderate, generally with cold clear nights and warm days. In summer, the Richtersveld experiences immense heat with temperatures up to 55 degrees Celsius and strong winds.

Richtersveld Transfrontier Wildrun® entries close at the end of March 2016. To enter and find out more about this spectacular race, please visit:  

Click HERE to watch the Richtersveld Transfrontier Wildrun® video on YouTube

A day-to-day route map of the race can be found here: