Oudtshoorn - After a temporary hiatus forced by the COVID pandemic, the Rhodes Dryland Traverse…
A list of elite South African trail runners is lacing up for the adventure of a lifetime at the Rhodes Dryland Traverse, which takes place from 31 October – 3 November.
Over four spectacular stages, the event starts in the dark, damp fissures of the Cango Caves (the only trail race with permission to do so) and takes runners to the peaks of the mighty Swartberg mountain range.
It will be a first time event for Nedbank Running Club’s Eric Ngubane, who is yet to take on a race through the truly unique landscape of the Klein Karoo.
As a runner who describes himself as a ‘man of the mountains’, Ngubane is certainly going to be a force to be reckoned with. He boasts titles like the 2018 winner of the Lesotho Ultra Trail, new record holder of the 2017 Golden Gate Trail Run, and 2016 champion of the prestigious Two Oceans Trail Run.
He is also no stranger to long distances and was crowned king of the 100km Ultra Trail Cape Town in 2014, and was the reigning champion of the Three Canes stage race from 2012-2014.
“It’s always exciting to run a race for the first time. It’s good to make new friends and experience new places, but more importantly for me it’s an opportunity to make history and challenge the record of the course overall,” said Ngubane.
Victory for Ngubane won’t come easy with local hometown heroes in the mix. Oudtshoorn boasts Dryland Traverse titles from previous South African 800m senior track champion turned road runner Etienne Plaatjies, and multiple trail and road running champion Gerswill Jacobs. There’s also familiar favourite John April, who will certainly come into the event confident after the recent Meiringspoort 21.1km where he stormed to victory in a field of 3500 athletes.
Rising South African trail running star Siviwe Nkombi will also take his place at the start line next weekend. Nkombi transitioned from top road runner to trail running elite with his impressive win at the BOS Sport Jonkershoek Mountain Challenge 38km in May this year.
While he has a few trail running victories like the 2018 Ultra Cape Town 21km, he has never tackled anything as technically taxing as the JMC.
“I’m a trail running athlete now,” said Nkombi. “Trail running gives me the freedom to explore the most beautiful mountains in the country. I’m expecting the Dryland Traverse to be tough, and I plan on delivering a good challenge to the guys up front.”
The Dryland Traverse has built a strong reputation for its ‘Karoo’ hospitality. Runners will be treated to a world-class race village nestled in the breathtaking valley of De Hoek, served buffet meals, and taken care of by a highly-qualified medical and physio team.
“Trail running has helped me find my second family – it doesn’t matter how fast or slow you are. I’ve heard a lot about the sense of community that you find at the Dryland Traverse, and I’m really looking forward to experiencing that,” said Ngubane.