The Inaugural Southern Cross Trail run took place on April 27, 28 and 29th, and by the time the final team had reluctantly rolled out of the ‘race-base’ at thePineLakeMarinanear Sedgefield, new friendships had been forged, along with promises to return in 2013.
It had all began when Rose Billborough, head of Sedgefield Tourism, sat down with Hano Otto and his wife Sonja. Hano and Sonja have long been involved in major trail running, adventure racing and Triathlon events around the country, and with Rose’s love of the greater Sedgefield area met Hano’s dream of a multi-day trail run, the ‘Berg, bush and beach’ was born.
Despite the original plan to restrict the race to teams, a late call by Hano allowed solo athletes to compete, and the nervous tension in the air during the day 1 briefing atPineLakeMarinathe evening before the start was evident. Perfect conditions greeted the athletes at the Karatra Nursery for the runners as they disembarked from the bus for leg 1.
Cool and lightly overcast skies gave rise to a sense of relief in the group as they prepared for the grueling mountain trails that took them deep into the outskirts of the Outeniqua mountain range, through Sanpark and MTO property. A tough and technical 25km course ended at the Farleigh forest station, and as the sun set on the Klein Karoo, exhausted teams looked back on what one pair described as the most nerve wracking, and breathtaking trail running experienced they had ever had in a single day.
Day 2 gave 30 km, and arguably one of the most beautiful days ever experienced in trail running, as the teams headed deep into the Millwood forest. The forest lies just outside Rheenendal, in the Sanparks Goudveld area. The pain and fatigue from day 1 was swept away as the single-track trail swept the athletes through thick, lush, green indigenous forest and ferns. Whoops of joy echoed around the trail as runners crossed natural springs and past waterfalls in desolate silence. As the teams arrived back at the start / finish point of Mother Holly’s Tea Garden, where friends and family had relaxed and spent the morning, there were many who just struggled to describe the beauty of where their route had taken them. Less technical than the opening day, the exhaustion had been replaced by a sense of awe.
The convoy that led the athletes through Pacaltsdorp to the Blue Whale Resort and the start of day 3 was quiet. This time however, the quiet was not nervous tension, but rather a growing sense of sadness that the South Cross trail run was approaching the end. The 16km route was tough, called ‘a mini otter trail run’, teams raced along more single track trails cut out by local fisherman, along sheer cliffs which plunged down into the ocean hundreds of feet below.
The team to walk away with the honors was Thabang Elias Madiba and Lympson Maifo of Gauteng Trail Speed Stars, in a total time of 6hr21:08, ahead of Batman and Robinson in 6hr31: 26. Team Contego took the final podium place, a further 6 minutes back.
The first all-ladies team went to Helette Basson and Charisse Hansen of team ‘One Run’, the West Coast duo were never headed over the 3 days, finishing in a total time of 9hr28:39.
There will be a change of date for the 2013 race, to August 9-11, in order to avoid clashes with other major races on the programme, this will be good news for the multi-sport and running community. If the feedback from 2012 is anything to go by, I would suggest that you get those entries in early!
Editorial and Images: Jeff Ayliffe
More photos here