The Oorlogskloof Nature Reserve Mountain Trail Run is not an ordinary run. This trail run is a serious challenge for the many athletes who come and participate in this annual event.
The 25th of April 2015 marked the fourth year the trail run has been held in the Oorlogskloof Nature Reserve. Athletes took part in the 42 km, 18 km or 5 km categories.
The trails lead down deep gorges, up cliffs, through crevices, under rock arches and past rock art and historic burial sites and through vegetation types unique to this biodiversity hotspot. Located in the Hantam-Tanqua-Roggeveld SKEP geographic priority area, the Oorlogskloof Nature Reserve must be one of the most beautiful places in South Africa.
The trails all begin and end at Groottuin, the entrance to the Oorlogskloof Nature Reserve. The trail run route is a combination of the reserves hiking trails and allows runners the chance to spot the Cape Mountain Zebra (Equus zebra zebra) in the Rietvlei Valley. Besides passing through the Oorlogskloof River gorge, the last place the endangered Clanwilliam Sandfish (Labeo seeberi) is able to recruit in the absence of predatory alien fish, the trail also passes along the Bokkeveld Escarpment edge, with endless captivating views over the Knersvlakte below.
Runners set off in the early morning as the sun was rising, after camping at the entrance area of the reserve for the night. Excitement was set in motion amongst the ‘Nieuwoudtvillers’ when the athletes started returning from the trails.
Leading the pack of 18 km category runners was none other than Randall Koopman “Spikes” and John Ross Januarie, both which are matriculants at the Protea High School in Nieuwoudtville, and keen rugby players as well. This is the first time in the four years of this event that athletes from Nieuwoudtville have participated in and won one of the categories. “This is only the beginning and we will be back next year to defend our title,” said Koopman and Januarie.
The personnel of the Oorlogskloof Nature Reserve were beaming with pride. This year’s event had a special meaning attached to it, as the previous reserve manager, Wessel Pretorius, passed away shortly before the event took place. Pretorius was instrumental in working with Quantum Adventures to get this annual event up and running. The personnel undertook his passing as motivation to ensure that the event will take place, in his honour.
Well done to all the participants who had the courage to tackle this trail running event this year and for the enthusiastic support of the Oorlogskloof Nature Reserve personnel, and to Quantum Adventures, the event organisers.
Article by Mandy Schumann and Leoni Vyver (Northern Cape Department of Environment and Nature Conservation)