PMB run­ners hit the trail

Run­ners en­joy an in­cred­i­ble out­door ex­pe­ri­ence at iSi­man­gal­iso

The Witness - - FRONT PAGE - — Sup­plied.

LAST week­end, the beach and bush par­adise of the iSi­man­gal­iso Wet­land Park felt the foot­falls of 127 trail run­ners as the first iSi­man­gal­iso Trail Chal­lenge took place in the south­ern parts of the ma­rine and ter­res­trial World Her­itage Site.

Hosted by Andrew Booth and his pro­fes­sional team from KZN Trail Run­ning, the mag­nif­i­cent weather and scenery cre­ated an un­sur­pass­able set­ting for the three­stage 82 km event. Run­ners started off with a six­kilo­me­tre full moon beach run on Fri­day night, fol­lowed by two days of trail through big­game coun­try and beach stretches at spring low tide. While a lucky few spot­ted leop­ards, ele­phants and an­te­lope, the high­light of the beach runs were breach­ing whales and dol­phins.

An in­for­ma­tive and en­ter­tain­ing “dan­ger­ous game” brief­ing by Wilder­ness Lead­er­ship School (WLS) guide Mandla Buthelezi fol­lowed by the sup­port of WLS and Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife rangers, en­sured that there were no neg­a­tive en­coun­ters with wildlife.

The win­ner of the event was Pi­eter­mar­itzburg run­ning star Mdu­miseni (Mdu) Zondi, fol­lowed by Carla van Huyssteen in sec­ond place. Zondi was one of six run­ners spon­sored by KZN Trail Run­ning, and iSi­man­gal­iso spon­sored an­other three de­vel­op­ment run­ners from ar­eas neigh­bour­ing the park.

“The in­spi­ra­tion for the trail run was born more out of a way to give peo­ple the op­por­tu­nity to dis­cover orig­i­nal wild spa­ces in the most nat­u­ral way pos­si­ble — on foot — and less about rac­ing,” says iSi­man­gal­iso CEO Andrew Zaloumis. “With­out any white noise, trail run­ners ex­pe­ri­enced a com­pletely au­then­tic wilder­ness ad­ven­ture — run­ning across the Eastern Shores grass­lands, among some of the high­est veg­e­tated dunes in the world, through lush coastal for­est and on to end­less stretches of pris­tine beaches and rock pools. On foot, it is a mag­nif­i­cent and rare way in which to ex­plore iSi­man­gal­iso.”

“We thank our great team of or­gan­is­ers, spon­sors, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife and WLS field rangers, and in par­tic­u­lar, our par­tic­i­pants — whose con­tri­bu­tions raised around R125 000 for the iSi­man­gal­iso Rare and En­dan­gered Species Fund, which is ex­clu­sively ded­i­cated to the con­ser­va­tion of these ma­rine and ter­res­trial species in the park. This sig­nif­i­cantly aids the essen­tial work done to­gether with iSi­man­gal­iso’s con­ser­va­tion part­ner Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife.”

KZN Trail Run­ning’s Booth said: “It was an amaz­ing ex­pe­ri­ence to be part of the team that put to­gether the first iSi­man­gal­iso Trail Chal­lenge.

We aimed to cre­ate an in­cred­i­ble out­door ex­pe­ri­ence in the iSi­man­gal­iso Wet­land Park that would be un­for­get­table to its par­tic­i­pants, and we feel we did that.

The event is a world­class of­fer­ing that should grow from strength to strength in the years to come.”

Run­ner Con Roux, who trav­elled with fel­low run­ners from Benoni for the event, said: “That was an ex­pe­ri­ence of a life­time, I wouldn’t have missed it for any­thing. If you love the out­doors and would like to make a mean­ing­ful con­tri­bu­tion to con­ser­va­tion, it’s a must do, es­pe­cially since it is run in South Africa’s very first World Her­itage Site.

The or­gan­is­ing team did an amaz­ing job putting to­gether a world­class event. I loved the de­tail and sur­prises along the way.”

PHOTO: SUP­PLIED

Win­ner of the first iSi­man­gal­iso Trail Chal­lenge Mdu Zondi from Pi­eter­mar­tizburg lead­ing day three near Mis­sion Rocks.

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