Trail runners have started responded enthusiastically to the opening of public entries for the Euro Steel Run The Rivers in partnership with FNB trail runs on the weekend of 29 and 30 January 2022, eager to make up for the cancellation of the 2021 under the Covid-19 second wave lockdown restrictions.

Many of the runners who entered the 2021 event chose to defer their entries to 2022 and have been allocated places in the two events, either the full two-day 45km run or the Lite version that covers 22km over the two shorter stages.

The organisers have agreed to a total cap of 500 runners for both events to ensure adherence to the overarching compliance and safety plans for the Drak Adventure Weekend that includes the Euro Steel Drak Descent MTB rides and the N3TC Drak Challenge canoe marathon.

When entries were opened to the public last week there was an immediate update, suggesting that trail runners are excited to erase their disappointment of having the much-talked about runs through the foothills of the Southern Drakensberg cancelled last summer.

The Sani Spoors team responsible for hosting the event and designing, cutting and maintaining the trails is looking forward to setting the runners off on the many new sections of trail that they had curated for 2021 event.

The revised layout will now keep the runners in the popular section around the Olde Duck facility that is the race base instead of taking them into Thrombi Gorge. The new route is built around a network of brand new trail designed to take runners up to signature viewpoints overlooking the Southern Drakensberg.

“The response has been very encouraging,” said Sani Spoors committee member Pierre Horn.

“In the time that we have been running the trail runs they have developed something of a cult following as they are quite different from your everyday trails.

“Much of the trail network we use is based on existing Eland paths and cattle paths and built around the Umzimkhulu river and its tributaries in this valley.

“We have also taken note of the runners habits of taking photos of themselves at vantage points with the Hodgson’s Peaks in the background so the new trails will take the runners to some unmissable photo opportunities!” he added.

The revised race format for both days also make it easier for runners to drive themselves to the start of each day and not be reliant on seconders or drivers to get back from the finish of each stage.

“After two years of dealing with the pandemic, there is a sense of the weight coming off our shoulders and the trail runners are approaching the 2022 race at the end of January with such enthusiasm that we are sure it will be a very memorable event,” he added.