Berg trail nirvana awaits Euro Steel Run the Rivers runners

Berg trail nirvana awaits Euro Steel Run the Rivers runners

A record entry of trail runners from every corner of the country will take to the paths, eland track and farm roads around Underberg for the Euro Steel Run The Rivers trail runs this weekend, making the four-year-old event one of the hottest tickets on the national trail running calendar.

From its inception in 2019 as an addition to the Euro Steel Drak Descent MTB race, the trail running event has quickly garnered a loyal following and the organisers sold out the entries for the 48 kilometre two-day main event, and it’s shorter 24 kilometre Euro Steel Run The Rivers Lite alternative.

The race now takes in new sections of trail aimed at leading the runners up to a number of viewpoints on the escarpment that offer panoramic views of the Maloti Drakensberg Park mountains and the Hodgson’s Peaks that are the defining feature of the rugged backdrop to Underberg.

While the event has built a core following of social runners and hikers that pencil in the dates as a must-do Berg trail event, it also lures many respected elite runners to contest the places on the podium.

Underberg local Philip Shezi has maintained a stranglehold on the top step of the men’s podium since the event was first staged, but concedes that his training has not been optimal, and hinted that there may be a new name at the top of the men’s classification after the two days of tough running.

There will be a new name on the women’s trophy as defending champ Kerry Walton has been forced to miss the event through a combination of injury and work commitments.

While she has vowed to be back to contest the title again in the near future, she has also flagged Anne Burger as a likely successor. The pair ran as a unit for much of last year’s race, and should Burger be called to the top step of the podium it will not surprise many trail running pundits.

For the hundreds of trail running aficionados the event will give them a second look at the new trail network prepared by the Sani Spoors team for the 2022 event that was dogged by heavy rains on the eve of the runs, leaving a number of bridges washed away and lower lying sections of trail under water.

The wet summer has abated in recent weeks, giving the trails time to dry out, and while some light rain is expected, conditions should be close to optimal for the trail runners eager to celebrate the fourth staging of the Euro Steel Run The Rivers trail runs this weekend.

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