Underberg – The exclusive Giant’s Cup two-day trail run in the Southern Drakensberg gets underway on Friday with the select group of runners tackling the pristine trails of the Maloti Drakensberg National Heritage Site from 18 to 19 May.
With a light dusting of snow on the peaks of the Drakensberg the weather is expected to be on the cold side. Runners will be happy that the forecast is for sunshine but the mercury is only expected to rise to around 16 degrees Celsius on Saturday with ten degrees the maximum for Friday.
The two-day event covers the 62km Giant’s Cup hiking trail and sees runners tackle 32km from Premier Resort Sani Pass to Gooderson Resort Drakensberg Gardens on the first day and then from there it is a 30km run to Bushman’s Nek Hotel on the Saturday.
Despite having a competitive element, the Giant’s Cup is geared towards the runners that make up the numbers and not necessarily towards those that are out to win the event. Having two days of running amongst the rolling hills of the Southern Drakensberg and appreciating the views and scenery are at the heart of the race.
Looking at the sharp end of the field, 2017 champion Thabo Madlala is back to try and defend the crown that he won last year. His role with the Endangered Wildlife Trust, which is one of the race beneficiaries, sees him spend a lot of his time in the mountains of the Southern Drakensberg.
This local knowledge, combined with a strict training regime and determination, will see Madlala go into the race as the clear-cut favourite.
He will be pushed to the line by 2017’s third place finisher Travis Green. The ‘serious amateur’, as he describes himself, is always ready to confront a challenge and feels that he will be right up in the podium places when they reach Bushman’s Nek on Saturday.
The Giant’s Cup, along with all of the other events that fall under the Running Man Adventures banner, supports KZN Ezemvelo Wildlife and the Endangered Wildlife Trust.
Runners will take on the Gxalingenwa Trail initially before they join the iconic Giant’s Cup trail some four kilometres into the first stage. The first checkpoint is at 13 kilometres in the Cobham Nature Reserve before the second check point at Mzimkhulwana Hut.
From there runners will hit the highest point of the day at Crane Tarn before they head to the finish at Castleburn Farm on the banks of the uMzimkhulu River.
Day two’s route only includes one check point at the 14.5 kilometre mark at Swiman’s Hut. The highest point on day two is also the highest point on the route at the saddle in front of Langalibalele Peak. There is then a continuous descent to the finish at Bushman’s Nek.