The Ultra-Trail Drakensberg, from 26 to 28 April 2019, was a festival of ultra-trail mountain running, with events of 30, 62, 100 and 160 kilometres respectively. It is also an Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc qualifying event.
All events take place within the southern part of the internationally renowned Maloti Drakensberg World Heritage Site and are point-to-point in nature, ensuring that large swathes of this iconic wilderness are traversed, involving big climbing with the challenge of altitude.
The course includes the legendary features of the Southern Drakensberg such as the Sani Pass, Twelve Apostles, Khanti Ridge, Gxalingenwa Gorge, Hodgson’s Peaks, Garden Castle, Rhino Peak and Langalibalele’s Pass.
As a 65-kilometre specialist, I was truly thankful to claim an excellent 8th position overall, in a loaded who’s-who race line-up, in the 62-kilometre division of the Giant’s Cup Uncut. It boggles my mind when I realise I accomplished the equivalent of a 5-day hike in under eight hours.
The Race is always excellently managed and it is a real treat to participate. The lack of fog and cloud this year made the views endless and the scenery was spectacular. After a good night’s sleep at the back-packer’s, it was an early morning rise and straight into the kitchen to get fuel into the belly. Breakfast was organic oats and only 700 millilitres of water. No caffeine and no sugar.
One hears the talk and chatter on the minds of the runners milling around: “I hope all the training pays off.” “This will be the first time I go over 50 kilometres at altitude.” “Should I take this electrolyte mix, as last time, it disagreed with my gut?” These remarks and rhetorical questions amuse me, as they are never directed at any one person.
It’s game time! I have decided to let loose my favourite statement, which I have done at many races in the past and broadcast to all: “Well! We did not get dressed up for nothing!” What an awesome ice breaker! I am thankful at this point to always remember how blessed I am to use my body to this end and experience a piece of nature that is phenomenal and awe-inspiring.
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Author: Kyron Raad