Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Skyrunning in South Africa scoops its first Skymarathon®

The Philippe Loop, a view to remember
The South African Skyrunning Association (SASA) is excited to announce its next sanctioned event, the Matroosberg Trail Challenge, on 26 October 2013.

Organised by Running The Cape, the 36km race is set in the Matroosberg Private Nature reserve, two and half hours from Cape Town, near Ceres in the Western Cape.

With the race distance meeting the International Skyrunning Federation (ISF) requirement of between 30km and 42km, and its elevation gain of 2 200m on mountainous 4x4 trails and rocky single track, the Matroosberg Trail Challenge qualifies as a Skymarathon®, guaranteeing a route packed with lung-burning climbs, incredible scenery and testing terrain.

As SASA’s second sanctioned skyrunning race, the event will be southern Africa’s first Skymarathon®, pioneering the way for South Africa’s first ever national skyrunning circuit.

The route of the Matroosberg Trail Challenge will take runners up to the 2 249m Matroosberg Peak, the second highest peak in the Western Cape. Runners will overlook the Bokkeveld, Ceres, Dro├ź Hoek, Koue Bokkeveld, and the Ceres Karoo, with views of the Witzenberg, Cedarberg and Du Toitskloof Mountains.

A snowy contour at the 2012 race

October weather in the Western Cape often brings surprises, and the chance of cold weather could even give competitors the opportunity to run in snow.

Running The Cape’s Ghaleed Nortje is confident the route will challenge every runner, even the strongest and most experienced.

“For the privilege of having spectacular views, the route will make runners pay – they’ll have to negotiate mountainous terrain, very steep climbs and descents, high altitude and unpredictable weather conditions. Near the top, the chance of snow will be good – a snow-covered track makes for smoother running, but will make the course even more challenging,” explains Nortje.

Nortje sees the event’s association with skyrunning in South Africa as a tremendous boost, not only for the race but for national trail running as a whole.

“I’m really excited about the MTC being sanctioned by SASA, and by the prospect of it forming part of a national skyrunning circuit from 2014. Gone are the days when we trail runners have to drool over skyrunning events in Europe and the USA – our South African athletes can now be a part of that rich experience too, by participating in local skyrunning events,” says Nortje.

Running above the clouds is part of the MTC experience
Being a SASA-sanctioned event, the Matroosberg Trail Challenge will also enjoy exposure to the international trail running community through SASA’s association with the ISF, potentially attracting athletes from outside of South Africa’s borders.

Defined as mountain running up to or exceeding 2 000m, where the incline exceeds 30% and where the climbing difficulty is not more than 11˚ gradient, the sport of skyrunning has taken the trail running world by storm in Europe, America and Asia over the past 20 years.

Skyrunning, a term coined by the ISF, is a discipline conceived by Italian mountaineer Marino Giacometti who, with a handful of fellow climbers during the early1990s, pioneered records and races on Mont Blanc and Monte Rosa in the Italian Alps.


Today, skyrunning has grown to span some 200 registered races worldwide, with about 30 000 participants from 54 countries.

Formed in 2011, SASA is an associate member of the ISF, and aims to promote and facilitate the growth of skyrunning in South Africa.

Event information will be posted towards the end of May, and entries will open during the second half of June 2013.