Exciting Rockjumper provides an easy-going trail running bonanza

Photo - Anthony Grote / Gameplan Media

The 2018 Ultra-Trail® Drakensberg Festival of Trail Running has expanded following a successful debut in 2017, and the Drakensberg Rockjumper (DRJ) two-day race is positioned to make the sport accessible to everyday trail runners when it takes place over 27-28 April, while the elite hard-core take on the longer options.

The drive in 2018 has been to introduce the sport of trail running to a younger audience and in trying to do this Running Man Adventures is reaching out to schools to get high school pupils to come and experience the beauty of running in the mountains.

Registered school pupils from the ages of 16-19 years can enter the DRJ21/15 at a 50% discount on the normal entry, and each entry will include a R200 donation to CANSA (Cancer Association of South Africa).

The same offer applies to slightly younger trail runners keen to take on the shorter distances of the RockJumper. Pupils aged from 15-19 years can enter the DRJ15/12 at the same half the price of a normal entry and it too will include a R200 donation to CANSA.

“Our appeal to young people is two-fold,” Running Man Adventures’ Spurgeon Flemington said. “Firstly, we want to help in developing the next generation of trail runners and build our future client base.

“If the youngsters are not taking part and showing interest then we are going to battle to host events in the future.

“We want to try and excite the next generation from a young age so that trail running can grow into a life-long focus for them.

“The second element is the CANSA angle. CANSA has a really big focus on educating the youth regarding the dangers of exposure to the sun and, being an outdoor sport, we feel strongly about helping CANSA to spread this message and raise some funds for them at the same time.

“We want to try and grow awareness and get the next generation to be sun conscious before it is too late.”

Running Man Adventures have decided that they will offer two different distances for runners over the two days of racing. The DRJ 21/15 will be 21km on day one and 15km on day two, while the DRJ15/12 will offer runners a 15km route on day one and 12km route on day two.

“It is an ideal event for those just getting into trail running or runners keen on the shorter distances,” Spurgeon Flemington of Running Man Adventures said. “Walkers are also very welcome!

“Falling under the Ultra-Trail® Drakensberg Festival umbrella it slots in seamlessly with the other events on offer and benefits from the pristine and magnificent trails that Ultra-Trail® Drakensberg provides.

“The distances are very manageable and should be enjoyable for all.”

The DRJ will take runners and walkers on the pristine track that surrounds the Premier Resort Sani Pass with some of the iconic Southern Drakensberg trails forming part of their two day excursion in the Drakensberg.

“Predominantly in the Maloti Drakensberg Park, runners will touch on sections of the legendary Giant’s Cup, Gxalingenwa and Khanti Ridge trails and experience genuine mountain trail running in its purest form.

“With Day 1 the day before the longer Ultra-Trail® Drakensberg events the runners will have the course to themselves. On Day 2 the runners will start just behind the GCU62 runners and will be back at the finish in time to cheer the UTD100 runners as they reach the 40km mark at the Premier Resort Sani Pass,” Flemington added.