New trails finally get raced at  Run the Rivers races

New trails finally get raced at Run the Rivers races

After a wait of almost two years the Sani Spoors team can finally let trail runners enjoy the brand new trails for the Euro Steel Run the Rivers Trail Run in partnership with FNB when the two day event is staged in the Southern Drakensberg on 29 and 30 January 2022.

The event was one of the first big sporting events to be cancelled under the hard lockdown a year ago, robbing eager runners of the chance to try out the boldly reshaped route designed to keep the runners in the foothills of the Drakensberg and maximise the scenic appeal of the races.

The single biggest change is the retention of the second stage in the upper uMzimkhulu valley instead of heading into the steep Thrombi Gorge, and a new plan to stage both days in a circuit course.

“The logic is to make race planning easier for the runners,” explained Sani Spoors’ Pierre Horn. “Both days of the trail run will start and finish at the Swartberg road bridge, allowing runners to drive their cars to the start and leave when they are done racing each day.

“That eases what used to be a heavy reliance on seconders or using a car shuttle service to get back from the finish each day.

“We listen to the runners feedback each year and it is clear that they really enjoy the trails in the upper uMzimkhulu valley and surrounds, especially where it allows them a good view of the Southern Berg,” he explained.

The revamped layout will see the runners head into the new Superbowl trails that take them directly back towards the mountains and the landmark Hodgsons Peaks.

“There are some fantastic points on the escarpment that will be very popular with the selfie photo-takers,” said Horn.

The seconds stage will be more familiar to regular supporters of the event as it takes the trail runners up alongside the uMzimkhulu River and then up into the Umzimkhulwana Valley before returning to the start/finish base above the Swartberg Road bridge.

Horn said the race organisers had been sad to miss the opportunity to test out the new layout last summer, and added that they had been busy with maintenance on the route ever since.

“The trails were ready for last January, and it felt strange not to be able to fill them with happy trail runners when we had to cancel the event last January.

“Then we had major storms at the end of last summer which caused a some structural damage to trails and bridges, so we have had our hands full repairing that and making sure it is ready for our runners to enjoy at the end of January 2022,” he explained.

The appeal of this opportunity has not gone unnoticed amongst the trail runners as the strictly limited entries for the full Euro Steel Run the Rivers and the shorter Lite options are almost sold out, more than two months away from the races.

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