Undeniably, one of the best ways to experience the iSimangaliso Wetland Park is on foot, and one of the only ways to explore certain parts of the Park is by entering the iSimangaliso Trail Challenge which will take place from the 28th of June to the 1st of July 2018. Hosted on the edges of the Lake St Lucia Estuary, the event looks set to be a fast sell out. Only two hundred places have been made available for the exquisite course set within South Africa’s first proclaimed World Heritage Site.
To make this experience more accessible, a shorter distance that totals 42km over the three stages has been added to the 2018 event. Those taking on the full challenge cover more than 80km over the 3 stages. “After a very successful inaugural event in 2017, we felt that this experience should be available to greater audience of passionate trail runners who were more comfortable covering shorter distances. It was an obvious decision to add a ‘lite’ version of the course where the longest stage measures 20km,” says Lindy Duffield, Marketing Manager at the iSimangaliso Wetland Park Authority.
“The inaugural event in 2017 raised R117,570 for the iSimangaliso Rare and Endangered Species Fund which will among other things enable the relocation and collaring of additional lion and cheetah in the 2017/18 financial year. Every cent raised for this fund is channeled directly into conservation and management costs of such species. And while the event could easily stand on its own feet as one of South Africa’s premier trail running destination events, its goes a lot further than that to ensure that those entering make a meaningful contribution to the area they get to explore in a way very few others do,” says Duffield.
Purposely scheduled over school breaks around South Africa, the organisers of the event encourage participants to embrace the event as families and groups of friends. “Not everyone is a runner, or capable of taking on distances of 20km or more on foot. Recognising this, we have designed the event to provide opportunities for families and spectators to engage with the Park. iSimangaliso, South Africa’s premier beach and bush destination, has so much to offer everyone of all ages and interests,” says Event Director Andrew Booth from KZN Trail Running. “The Park is a big game destination fringed by high vegetated coastal dunes and pristine beaches. The opening stage is an easy 6km beach run on the full moon low spring tide which all spectators and family members are invited to join,” adds Booth. “It is a truly spectacular experience and a fitting start to a one-of-a-kind event.”
Any avid trail runner or outdoor enthusiast shouldn’t miss this experience which is enormously enhanced through a number of partnerships, a stand-out one being with the Wilderness Leadership School who contextualise the bushveld experience with their knowledge while keeping a watchful eye out to ensure the safety of runners in the presence of wild animals.