The Blyde River Canyon from the top of Mariepskop

New race and courses at Kruger2Canyon Challenge 2023

The 8th running of the Kruger2Canyon Challenge (K2C) saw new additions to the race in 2023, making it more accessible to a range of runners’ abilities and provided a perfect alternative venue for the highly anticipated Stage 2, Bush Day.

Runners and organisers were treated to spectacular conditions over the three days from 30 June – 2 July 2023 that participants were in residence in the race village at Laerskool Mariepskop, Kampersrus, Limpopo.

Day 1 of K2C sees trail runners shed blood, sweat and tears climbing Mariepskop Mountain, exploring this incredible floral hotspot that boasts many endemic plant and animal species. In running terms, the 42km course on day 1 is considered one of the hardest in the country, thanks to its 2800m of climbing and very technical terrain. There is also a 25km option and for the first time, a 16km route. Both still climb to the top of this section of the northern Drakensberg range, so there is no escaping the elevation gain, but the new shorter route option was very well received.

Day 1 of Kruger2Canyon Challenge 2023 climbs Mariepskop Mountain.
The enchanted forests of Mariepskop harbour many endemic plant species and wickedly tricky terrain for runners to navigate. Photo Credit: Mountain Room Media.

Day 2 has historically been a much more moderate day of running, and this year the route took participants through the scenic town of Kampersrus and into Moholoholo Mountain View Reserve, before returning through the town to the school fields. Moholoholo has buffalo, hippo and leopard, as well as abundant plains game, making this day a big thrill. This year there was a 14km route option alongside the traditional 18km and 28km routes. The less technical and flatter running was welcomed after the brutal Day 1, and participants lapped up the tranquil bushveld and views from the base of Mariepskop and the surrounding koppies.

Covering either 70km, 44km or 30km over the two days, the Kruger2Canyon Challenge is a unique way to experience the diversity of the area. Race partners, the Kruger to Canyons Biosphere Region once again played a critical role in the event logistics and hosting, as well as being a beneficiary of the race. Organiser Andrew Booth says “This race would not be possible without the tireless work from the Kruger to Canyons Biosphere Region, who manage and conserve this biodiverse area – an example of conservation through education, upliftment and engagement with stake-holders.”

While the emphasis at this event is on the challenge that it poses and a unique way to experience our natural heritage, the racing is always fierce up front. Nadia Jooste put in fantastic performances on both days and is the first lady to win the 70km Stage Race outright, with a combined time of 8:25:21, and 15min ahead of 1st man Ryan Hyde (8:40:15). The 44km Stage Race was won by Barry Baragwanath in 5:58:10 and 1st lady was Lindi-Jane Hawke in 6:11:45. The newly introduced 30km stage race was won by Mike Snyman in 3:50:02 and 1st lady (2nd overall) was Linda van Staden in 4:15:50.

Kruger2Canyon Challenge 2023 race winner, Nadia Jooste.
Outright winner of the Kruger2Canyon Challenge 2023, Nadia Jooste, took the technical terrain of K2C on Day 1 (42km) in her stride. Photo Credit: Mountain Room Media

K2C 30km Stage Race Results (Men):

1st Mike Snyman 3:50:02

2nd David Jones 4:15:57

3rd Brendon Longhurst 4:20:49

K2C 30km Stage Race Results (Women):

1st Linda van Staden 4:15:50

2nd Benita Coetzee 4:17:59

3rd Hendrina Helena Coetzer 4:21:09

K2C 44km Stage Race Results (Men)

1st Barry Baragwanath 5:58:10

2nd Darren Dunne 6:00:06

3rd Helgard Redelinghuys 6:05:54

K2C 44km Stage Race Results (Women):

1st Lindi-Jane Hawke 6:11:45

2nd Ashleigh Baker 6:14:12

3rd Nicole Fiolet 6:36:20

K2C 70km Stage Race Results (Men):

1st Ryan Hyde 8:40:15

2nd Richard Osborne 8:50:47

3rd David Rose 9:08:06

K2C 70km Stage Race Results (Women):

1st Nadia Jooste 8:25:21

2nd Karine Bezuidenhout 9:26:35

3rd Kate Mapham 9:27:00

For full results for the Kruger2Canyon Challenge 2023, click HERE.

The dates for 2024 have already been set for 5 – 7 July 2024, and the organisers look forward to building this trail race into an even bigger event within the local community and to the South African Trail Running community. Entries are now open – for all the information and race entries, click HERE.

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