Former South African Champion Etienne Plaatjies at the 2018 Rhodes Dryland Traverse. Photo: www.zcmc.co.za
The 2018 Rhodes Dryland Traverse drew to a close in the isolated town of De Hoek on Sunday. The sell-out event brought 370 adventure-seekers to the Klein Karoo for four epic stages of trail running.
Taking centre stage was Robert Rorich who won the solo male category in a time of
5:34:05. The 22-year old has fast become a favourite on the trail running scene after his recent 8th place and new South African record at this year’s Otter African Trail Run.
While Rorich has experienced some of the best trail running races that the country has to offer, he described a unique ‘vibe’ about the Rhodes Dryland Traverse that he finds particularly appealing:
“I love the people that come together for this event. Dryland also makes everything so easy – all I have to do is bring my bag and have fun, everything else is sorted. The food, race village and vibe in the tent every night is incredible. It’s a surreal experience to explore these mountains for a few days with 400 people who enjoy that kind of thing as much as you.”
The 2018 Rhodes Dryland Traverse race village hidden in the isolated De Hoek region. Photo: www.zcmc.co.za
Adding to the experience of exploring the majestic Swartberg region and traversing the arid Klein Karoo was the opportunity to invest in aspiring trail runners.
Rorich was accompanied by four up and coming runners from his local Western Cape community who were given complementary entries by Dryland Event Management.
Over four days they were exposed to unique features of the South African landscape like the UNESCO World Heritage site of the Swartberg Mountains, Cango Caves and Raubenheimer Dam – places they had never been to before and now had the opportunity to travel.
Title sponsor Rhodes Food Group also grabbed the opportunity to invest in local talent by sponsoring seven runners from Oudtshoorn with entries to the event and trail running attire.
The Rhodes pair of Etienne Plaatjies and John April, who won the male teams’ category, left a deep imprint on the heart of every participant this weekend.
Plaatjies balances his trail running dreams with a job as a security guard, and squeezes in training sessions at extreme hours in between long shifts. As no stranger to the sport, Plaatjies was the first coloured male to become the 800m South African Champion in 2010.
“It’s an incredible experience to be welcomed by this trail running community who encourages and enables you to pursue your dreams. It makes me want to reach for more in this sport and gives me a platform to encourage the youngsters looking up to me. John is feeling so motivated – he even told me he wants to enter the Comrades next year!” said Plaatjies.
Taking the title in the solo female’s category was Jo Mackenzie, who completely dominated her class in a time of 7:39:36.
A parting shot from Rhodes Marketing Manager Merlin Norman:
“As a brand we’re very much about supporting local communities, and this event is a really good opportunity to reach out and do that. Running is an accessible sport that helps keep youngsters in this area from getting involved in the wrong stuff. There’s something very empowering about running out there and freeing your mind.”
Some more highlights from the 2018 Rhodes Dryland Traverse below. Should you require high-res images for free editorial use feel free to contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Epic trails along the renowned Raubenheimer Dam. Photo: www.zcmc.co.za
Trail runners traverse the mighty Swartberg Mountain range. Photo: www.zcmc.co.za
South Africa’s trail running star Robert Rorich in his element at the 2018 Rhodes Dryland Traverse. Photo: www.zcmc.co.za