Kruger2Canyon Challenge 2017 took place on 17 and 18 June 2017 in Kampersrus Limpopo. The event is split into 2 stages, the first is the Canyon or Mountain Stage where runners choose between a 42 and 26km course that take them up towards Mariepskop, one of the highest points of the most northern Drakensberg. Both courses are very challenging but offer spectacular sights and variation in the landscape.
The second stage in contrast, heads into the Lowveld with 19 and 28km courses that start by descending through Kampersrus from the venue Laerskool Mariepskop. Runners cross into The Blue Canyon Conservancy, a Big 4 reserve without buffalo, where they traverse the jeep track game viewing roads before finishing off with an exciting few kilometers of single track.
While the race is a superb experience and many of the entrants participate to enrich themselves through experiences, there is a racing element to the event.
Jock Green and Pieter Conradie raced one another for the men’s title from the start, there was some depth to the field, but these two stood out. Ladies continue to show themselves as strong outright competitors in the South African Trail Scene with the ladies’ winner Marie-Zanne De Kock being in a league of her own and finishing 4th overall. Also a position she held from the first CP on stage 1.
“From a competition point of view, the contrasting stages are interesting. You can build a lead in the mountains on stage 1, but you need some speed when running through the game reserve to hold onto that lead. But also from and experience point of view, to visit on foot such contrasting Biomes in such pristine condition is an amazing experience for the outdoor enthusiast” said Andrew Booth from KZN Trail Running, of the event organizing company.
Local participant Michael Dickerson expressed his enthusiasm for the event “We have some incredible trail running opportunities in our back yard and it’s great to see runners coming from far to enjoy them, but what is even more important is that as, locals we take advantage of them,” said Dickerson. “The event also raises funds for local projects driven by The Kruger2Canyons Biosphere Region, which should ultimately secure most of the land on which the race takes place into a protected area – an event and cause well worth supporting”.
This was the third running of the event, but the first time it took place under the banner of KZN Trail Running. If what this year’s participants is anything to go by, the future of the event is bright. With a solid foundation now established the event is set to flourish even further in 2018.
Ultra (70km over 2 stages)
- Jock Green (6:52:37)
- Pieter Conradie (6:56:29)
- Andrew Khoza (7:38:17)
- Marie-Zanne De Kock (7:52:06) – 4th overall
- Helene Muller (8:42:58)
- Mientjie Els (10:19:07)
Marathon distance (42km over 2 days)
- Barry Detert (6:00:26)
- Carlo Vanzaghi (6:21:44)
- Jan Slabber (6:26:12)
- Michelle Davis (6:09:37) – 2nd overall
- Erika Vercuiel (6:30:30)
- Annerie Kruger (6:32:25)