General

All routes start and finish at the race venue, and all of them ascend to the top of the koppies for the view of the Gariep Dam. A combination of vehicle tracks, dry waterways, animal paths and no paths are employed. There are steep sections but the cumulative ascents are mild in trail running terms. Some sections are rocky and suitable rough-terrain training is required.


Route Map
(the 12km is a proposal and is to be finalised)


Route Statistics

Route NameDistanceCumulative AscentDurationWater Point Positions
60km61,0km800m6 to 12 hours11km, 21km, 34km, 52km
40km40,6km480m3½ to 8 hours13km, 31km
20km20,4km320m2 to 6 hours11km
12km12km150m1 to 3 hours5km

Route Descriptions

60km

The 60km route is a combination of the 20km and 40km routes. The 20km section is completed first, starting at 04:00. Those who finish the 20km within 3 hours join the 40km group at 07:00, while those who take longer than 3 hours start with the 40km as soon as they have completed the 20km.

There are four water points. You will pass WP2 (see map below) during the night at which time it will be unmanned but water and energy drink will be available. The second water point is the venue where registration of the other distances will be in progress at the time of your arrival. Hot drinks and rusks will be for sale and there will be water for refilling bottles and bladders. On the 40km section are two water points which will have water, energy drink and eats available.

40km

Distances given in brackets are as measured from the start on Google Earth. Runners have reported slightly longer distances.

Oviston Nature Reserve
From the starting point at the venue on the farm Schalkwykskraal the route immediately enters Oviston Nature Reserve and runs along a two spoor vehicle track in the direction of Gariep Dam. The water intake tunnel of the Orange-Fish River Tunnel, 12km away as the crow flies, is visible from here. At a gravelly waterway (1,7km) the 20km splits to the right while the 40km continues along the water’s edge. The distance to the water depends on how full the dam is: hundreds of metres if the dam is relatively empty, about 50 metres when the dam is full, and when the dam overflows the vehicle track is under water. A tar road is reached (5,3km) which intriguingly disappears into the water because it existed before the dam was built. The route continues along the tar road, away from the dam and slightly uphill, a relief from the flat running next to the dam. A dirt section follows, then more tar before the route turns sharp right onto dirt road (9,7km) through beautiful grassland dotted with anthills, to a storm water bridge (12,7km) where the reserve is exited by crawling under the border fence.

Gelykfontein (Open Veld Section)
Crossing through the storm water bridge, Gelykfontein’s main entrance is reached on the other side of the R58 Colesberg-Venterstad road. Running along the entrance road, the farmhouse is on the left, Morning Glory Cottages on the right, then follows Water Point 1 (13,1km) and the route continues past stables and animal camps and then into the veld along a two spoor track. There are low koppies on the right and expansive veld with koppies in the far distance on the left. It is worth turning around and appreciate the views to the rear. The wide open views make the road feel long and one gets a feeling of the size of the Karoo farms. Then follow a few objects/landmarks which distract from the vastness: an out-of-place white caravan (16,8km), a windpump, a donga, and just after the donga the ladder for climbing over the fence into Schalkwykskraal (19,0km).

Schalkwykskraal (Koppies Section)
The route heads to the koppies along two spoor track, the trail surface becomes rocky and weaves around the back end of the koppies and around the end koppie at the R58, with Gariep Dam in full view. At a fence the route turns sharp left to the koppies (24,8km). There is no vehicle track here but if the “steekgras” (Aristida congesta) is seeding then the grass would have been cut about 150m along the incline in preparation for the race. Thereafter it becomes very steep and there is no clear path. Follow the markers from schrub to scrub on the grassy slope and along a rocky gully to the top and to the front of the koppie (25,3km) where the sight of the dam from this high point (1366m, 100 metres above the 100% water level) takes the breath away. It is rocky and there is no clear path. A short steep descent leads to the place where the 20km joins the 40km (25,7km) and a steep climb along the fence leads to the highest point on the route (1414m at 26,0km). The route continues along the fence with no clear path and the View & Info point is reached at 27,2km, where there is a short write-up about the geology of the Karoo and an explanation of a magmatic dyke which is visible from this point. A hundred metres further a perpendicular fence is crossed with a ladder (27,3km) and the route turns right onto a rough two spoor track which continues more or less along that fence over hilly terrain to another perpendicular fence (29,4km) where another 90 degree right turn is made, this time through a gate. The route leads along this fence and then swings away to arrive at Water Point 2 (30,7km) which is also a good viewing spot of Gariep Dam. From WP2 the route goes back to the fence and continue along it up to a ladder (31,0km) where the route passes from Schalkwykskraal back into Gelykfontein.

Gelykfontein (Kloof Section)
The second Gelykfontein section starts with a downhill two spoor track. It crosses a rocky section (32,0km) where the track disappears. Two hundred metres further the track re-appears and then descends into the gorge down a steep section with loose rocks. Hardcore trail runners will enjoy a few seconds of adrenaline while the more cautious might struggle a bit and this part of the trail is where the chance of falling is the greatest. Soon the rocks give way to sand and the track meanders downward along the gorge’s waterway and between trees. The track crosses the waterway thrice in quick succession (33,3 to 33,6km) where the rocky waterway can be admired, and after which the climb out of the kloof starts. An “entrance gate” of seemingly stacked rocks (stacked by nature) (33,8km) leads to a magnificent section of weathered rock formations. Don’t get too engrossed in the rock formations on the right hand side; also look back to admire the vast landscape and the koppies in the distance that rise to 1650m and lie on the Eastern Cape / Northern Cape border about 13km away. The uphill out of the kloof continues up to the ladder at the Gelykfontein / Schalkwykskraal border fence (34,4km).

Schalkwykskraal (Fontein Section)
An easy-running two spoor track winds through grassland, with a good view over Gariep Dam, until the dirt road that runs from the venue to Water Point 2 is reached (36,2km). The venue is visible from here and it seems the race is almost over, but the route turns to the right, away from the venue and in the uphill direction of the koppies. At a rock slab the route turn off the dirt road along a waterway (36,7km). The route leads down the waterway, over rocks, rock slabs and through furrows, up to the “fontein” (spring) which looks like a picnic spot. The route continues down the waterway, now sandy. At a fence the route leads out of the waterway and over a section of veld, then re-joins the waterway at the R58 road and then the runner has to get through a low storm water tunnel (38,4km) by crawling or crouch-walking to get to the other side of the R58. The waterway continues to be followed and then exited (38,7km) for a section of cut grass until a dirt road is reached (39,0km) along which the last kilometre to the finish (40,1km) is run.

20km

Distances given in brackets are as measured from the start on Google Earth. Runners have reported slightly longer distances.

Oviston Nature Reserve
From the starting point at the venue on the farm Schalkwykskraal the route immediately enters Oviston Nature Reserve and runs along a two spoor vehicle track in the direction of Gariep Dam. The water intake tunnel of the Orange-Fish River Tunnel, 12km away as the crow flies, is visible from here. At a gravelly waterway (1,7km) the 40km continues along the water’s edge while the 20km splits to the right along a waterway. The windy waterway is exited at the reserve / Schalkwykskraal border fence (2,5km) which is crossed with a ladder.

Schalkwykskraal (Koppies Section)
A two spoor farm track is followed in an easterly direction, the dam clearly in view. The route then turns away from the dam to the direction of the koppies (3,3km) and passes under the R58 Colesberg-Venterstad road through a storm water tunnel (4,0km). The route joins up with another two spoor track which leads up to a shelf (4,8km) along which the track continues until the route swing off it to the right, along a waterway (5,3km). The climb along the waterway, up to where the route re-joins the 40km (5,8km) is steep, climbing 70 metres in half a kilometre. After joining the 40km route, the climb continues for another 60 metres in the next 300 metres to reach the highest point on the route (1414m at 6,1km). The route continues along the fence with no clear path and the View & Info point is reached at 7,3km, where there is a short write-up about the geology of the Karoo and an explanation of a magmatic dyke which is visible from this point. A hundred metres further a perpendicular fence is crossed with a ladder (7,4km) and the route turns right onto a rough two spoor track which continues more or less along that fence over hilly terrain to another perpendicular fence (9,5km) where another 90 degree right turn is made, this time through a gate. The route leads along this fence and then swings away to arrive at Water Point 2 (10,8km) which is also a good viewing spot of Gariep Dam. From WP2 the route goes back to the fence and continue along it up to a ladder (11,1km) where the route passes from Schalkwykskraal back into Gelykfontein.

Gelykfontein (Kloof Section)
The second Gelykfontein section starts with a downhill two spoor track. It crosses a rocky section (12,1km) where the track disappears. Two hundred metres further the track re-appears and then descends into the gorge down a steep section with loose rocks. Hardcore trail runners will enjoy a few seconds of adrenaline while the more cautious might struggle a bit and this part of the trail is where the chance of falling is the greatest. Soon the rocks give way to sand and the track meanders downward along the gorge’s waterway and between trees. The track crosses the waterway thrice in quick succession (13,4 to 13,7km) where the rocky waterway can be admired, and after which the climb out of the kloof starts. An “entrance gate” of seemingly stacked rocks (stacked by nature) (13,9km) leads to a magnificent section of weathered rock formations. Don’t get too engrossed in the rock formations on the right hand side; also look back to admire the vast landscape and the koppies in the distance that rise to 1650m and lie on the Eastern Cape / Northern Cape border about 13km away. The uphill out of the kloof continues up to the ladder at the Gelykfontein / Schalkwykskraal border fence (14,5km).

Schalkwykskraal (Fontein Section)
An easy-running two spoor track winds through grassland, with a good view over Gariep Dam, until the dirt road that runs from the venue to Water Point 2 is reached (16,3km). The venue is visible from here and it seems the race is almost over, but the route turns to the right, away from the venue and in the uphill direction of the koppies. At a rock slab the route turn off the dirt road along a waterway (16,8km). The route leads down the waterway, over rocks, rock slabs and through furrows, up to the “fontein” (spring) which looks like a picnic spot. The route continues down the waterway, now sandy. At a fence the route leads out of the waterway and over a section of veld, then re-joins the waterway at the R58 road and then the runner has to get through a low storm water tunnel (18,5km) by crawling or crouch-walking to get to the other side of the R58. The waterway continues to be followed and then exited (18,8km) for a section of cut grass until a dirt road is reached (19,1km) along which the last kilometre to the finish (20,2km) is run.

12km

The short route still needs to be finalised at the time of writing. A possible route has been designed (see the map at the top) which is 11,7km long, which is why the route is called a 12km for now. The plan is for the route to include a view of the dam from the koppies as well as go through the kloof. Compared to the 20km it will be easier in terms of the intensity of climbing.

The storm water tunnel, located 1,7km from the finish, through which all the routes lead. Choose between stooping if you are small and supple, or crawling.

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