25 km Race

The 25 km trail run starts off on the same route as the 10 km but splits off on three additional loops. The run starts with approximately 4km inside the school premises. The trail takes runners via a short section of paved walkway and then up into well-worn path through indigenous bush veld that surrounds the school, heading for high ground above the school and the winding downward toward the main gate. Once runners leave the premises they will run up a sort stretch of dirt road and then turn off into the bush on winding single track which slowly descends in elevation as it parallels a dry river bed.

The vegetation is mostly typical bushveld until the trail heads through a patch of eucalyptus trees. See if you can spot the nest of a black sparrowhawk high in a eucalyptus tree. A short while after leaving the eucalyptus forest the first split occurs and 25km runners should make sure they keep left, following the signs to ensure they remain on the correct route. Marshals will assist at this point.

The elevation will continue to fall slowly but steadily making this section deceptively fast. The trail turns sharply left onto a stretch of jeep track and then abruptly turns right onto single track and continues the steady descent toward the dry river bed. The trail crosses the dry river bed, makes a loop near a boundary fence and then re-crosses the dry river bed. This is where the uphill begins. It is not steep but it is long and continuous. The trail winds through open bushveld and the odd dense thicket until the water table which will mark the point at which the 25k route rejoins the 10m trail.

Keep following the signs and pay attention to the marshals. The trail then follows a short stretch of old jeep track and then heads off into the bush again as single track. The trail will get steeper  and then enters the hauntingly beautiful indigenous forest which still plays host to a variety of elusive creatures. Be on the lookout for rocks rolled onto the trail by baboons as the forage for scorpions and other invertebrates. Also be careful of overhanging branches but be sure to take a moment to appreciate the ancient trees and the eerie silence. Shortly after entering the forest the 25km route splits off from the 10 km route a second time. Be sure to keep left for the 25km route. Marshals will be present.

The trail will continue to climb inside the forest until it reaches a local high point from which the trail will descent on a winding route and eventually rejoins the 10km route inside the forest. It is not a conspicuous junction so some runner will not even notice it.  Too soon you will emerge from the shelter of the forest and out into the sun, onto a contour path along the side of the hill, looking down on the area you have run through. Just before leaving the forest there will be a split where the 10km trail heads to the right and the 25km route keeps left. After a few hundred meters following the contour the climbing resumes and the trail winds its way up to the summit of Tshufi hill. The runners will be rewarded with great views of the surroundings and most likely a welcome breeze as they head to the check point and collect their tokens.

Turning back from the checkpoint they follow the terrain along the ridge for a while, and then begin their rocky descent. The trail drops steeply , heads through a thicket of indigenous trees and then heads up and over a saddle. A few switchbacks assist with a rocky descent on the Western slope of the hill and then the trail returns to the top of the ridge with more great views. Runners will get to do some rock-hopping and stand a chance to see rock hyrax or Jameson’s red rock rabbit before a sharp switchback to the left takes them down onto a contour path along the Western slope.

The running becomes considerably easier from this point. The contour path gives way to a downhill path with some loose gravel leading down to a jeep track where the trail turns left under a power line . After about 250m at the Northern boundary fence the trail turns right onto a foot path which heads up a gentle slope and then descends again toward the provincial road. The trail leaves the footpath with a sharp right turn  just before the boundary fence and winds between giant Marloth aloes on a gentle downhill till it reaches a huge tree surrounded by bare ground . Just after the tree the trail turns right and heads gently uphill , returning to the power line jeep track . The trail turns left onto the jeep track and heads toward the fence of the school. Turning left at the fence the trail follows the fence line until it returns to the school’s main gate where it joins onto a paved walkway that leads up to the sports field and the finish along the same route from the gate as the 10 km runners.