My family and I have been visiting my sister Carina and her husband Meyer at their farm Schalkwykskraal since the early nineties. I was a road runner—trail running was not yet mainstream—but enjoyed running on the dirt roads and climbing the koppies. When I switched to trail running around 2012 I saw the potential of the farm for hosting an event. This remained just a thought for many years because I was resident in Mpumalanga, about 800km from the farm, and did not have the time for the organising and the on-site preparations. With retirement coming closer the thought became a possibility and only then did I mention my wish to Meyer and Carina. About three years later, in December 2019, we took the “let’s do it” decision and set the date of the inaugural run for 1 May 2021. This time of year fits in best with the farming work-load cycle.
I had in my head a 20km and a 40km route, making use of Schalkwykskraal, Oviston Nature Reserve, and the farm Gelykfontein. I wanted the runners to get close to the water, to view the dam from the top of the koppies, and to go through the kloof (gorge) in Gelykfontein. Meyer knows the three properties well and it didn’t take him long to plot out suggestions for the two routes on Google Earth.
Having obtained permission from Gelykfontein’s owners Schalk and Christa van der Walt to take the route through their farm, and from Eastern Cape Parks and Tourism Agency for including Oviston Nature Reserve, the scene was set for the inaugural event of 2021.
Assisting with the organisation are my wife Penny, Meyer and Carina from Schalkwykskraal, Marené van der Walt from Gelykfontein, Oviston Nature Reserve management, and volunteers who help with venue set-up and race day activities. I am thankful too for sponsorship (more needed!) and those who deliver catering and medical services.
And of course the athletes. To have you visit and sharing with you that what I love, our sport trail running, gives me joy. I hope we can do this together for many years.