This November will be the 20th running of the oldest trail race in South Africa, the legendary SkyRun presented by Salomon, and in that time SkyRun has become the quintessential ultra-trail running event on every serious trail runners bucket list – both locally and internationally.
“SkyRun is a race for the top 15% of the field. For the rest of us, it is an endurance adventure!” describes Race Organiser and Director, Mike de Haast from Pure Adventures. “I use the word adventure because it throws all sorts of elements that make up an adventure at you in the course of a day and a half, this adventure can be described as living a lifetime in around 30 hours. You will truly find yourself, and some of the reasons you are ALIVE, out there in the Witteberg Mountains. The beauty of the landscape is unique, the harshness of the terrain unrelenting, the remoteness of the check points massively intimidating, but these elements make for one of the greatest adventures you could ever experience. This is not a mindless 100 odd kilometres of pavement pounding, this is 100km or 65km of ADVENTURE in a well-managed, controlled environment!”
The race encompasses 3 distances – 100km, 65km and 42km. The 100km and 65km races are unique in that they are truly self-supported and self-navigational races, where athletes tackle the remote terrain of the Witteberg Mountain range with a map, compass or GPS unit and a back pack containing all their food, water and compulsory equipment that will enable them to survive in this harsh environment, while operating at an average height of between 2200-2500 meters above sea level.
“The Skyrun Marathon (42km) is in its second year and is a marked route with aid stations along the lower mountain slopes,” explains Mike. “It has been designed as an introduction to the 100km Skyrun, allowing trail runners who would eventually like to take part in the 100km route, the opportunity to experience the event without the intimidation of the high mountains and having to support and navigate their way around the Southern Drakensburg.”
The SkyRun 100km is pure mountain running, and considered by many to be the toughest trail run in Southern Africa, with a variety of terrain from hiking paths, jeep track to literally the side of the mountain. Once competitors have left the town of Lady Grey in the Eastern Cape, the beauty and remoteness of the mountains soon engulfs them and it is not uncommon to run for the entire race without seeing much civilization around you except those involved in the race.
INTERESTING RACE FACTS
- 2016 – 20th running of SkyRun
- 1997 – first time the race was ever run
- 15 – number of SkyRunners to start the 1st race
- 174 – number of SkyRunners to start the 2015 SkyRun
- 138 – the number of 174 starters who finished the 2015 SkyRun Race
- 46% – the steepest gradient of the SkyRun known as “The Wall”
- 0 – the number of runners who have been able to run “The Wall” from the bottom to the top. (Ryno Griesel did give it his best shot though!)
- Elevation for each route – 100km 5500m & 65km 3200m & 42km 1400m
- 13 – the most number of wins by Bruce Arnett
- 2015 winning times – Landie Greyling 18hrs05min & Bruce Arnett 13hrs56min
- “SkyRun is one of the most horrible races to run, but the greatest race to win!” Ian Don-Wauchope
For more information about this year’s race please visit skyrun.co.za or on Facebook @SkyrunZA. All competitors will be able to be tracked via Sportrax during the race.