SkyRun 65Race Info
The Witteberg is a South African mountain range just off the south-west corner of Lesotho. The range, which rises to 2408 metres, stretches for about 60km from Lundin’s Nek in the east to Lady Grey in the west. The range lends its name to the Witteberg Series, the uppermost fossiliferous sequence of the Cape System of sedimentary rocks in South Africa. The race starts in the town of Lady Grey which is famous for its annual Nativity Play and its quaint houses and incredible scenery. Discover the wonder of Balloch cave along the route with it bushman art and idyllic setting nestled between some of the highest peaks in the Witteberg.
The Witteberg range is one of the most picturesque places in South Africa with some distinctive peaks like Avoca and Halston Peaks dominating the skyline.
The SkyRun is true mountain running with a variety of terrain from hiking paths that lead you up to the tower, some jeep track is a welcome relief from the majority of the terrain which is on the mountain side as this is a self-supported and self-navigation the route choice is very much in the hands of the individual competitors. Once you have left the town of Lady Grey behind the beauty and remoteness of these mountains soon engulfs you and it is not uncommon to run for the entire race without seeing much civilization around you except those involved in the race.
The fauna and flora is incredible and there are over 650 plant and 80 animal species know to habitat the mountains of the Witteberg.
Lady Grey can be accessed through all the major road networks in South Africa and is about 3hrs from Bloemfontein, 6 hrs from Durban 7 hrs from Johannesburg and 10hrs from Cape Town by car.
SkyRun 65Km Start
In the town of Lady Grey there are many accommodation options from the Mountain View Country Inn where race headquarters are based, to the many B&B’s and Backpackers in the area. For more info on what Lady Grey has to offer visit www.ladygreytourism.co.za The only seconding point on the route is at Balloch Caves where athletes’ descend into the valley and can be supported by their seconds. Accommodation options are available at Balloch which has a few chalets and a camping area for seconds. This is some of the most exquisite terrain in the area and well worth the overnight stop. Visit the website www.ballochcottages.co.za or www.wartrail.co.za for more B&B and activities in this truly beautiful part of our country. The race is famous for Margy frost food at Balloch Caves and the finish that all the entrants are able to enjoy as a reward for taking on this epic challenge.
The SkyRun 65 is unique in that it is truly self-supported and self-navigational races, where athletes tackle the remote terrain of the Witteberg Mountain range with a Map a Compass or GPS unit and a back pack containing all there food, water and compulsory equipment that will enable them to survive in this harsh environment, while operating at an average height of between 2200-2500 meters above sea level.
The trail starts in Lady Grey and finishes at Wartrail Country Club. The route climbs sharply out of Lady Grey to the first check point at the Tower; this is about a 12km run and is a combination of hiking trails and mountain running. As you climb the trail to the tower the majestic landscape unfolds in front of you and it now feels as if you are on top of Africa. Following the fence line you make your way along the ridge line to the second check point which is at Olympus, this is another 10km and the terrain is now devoid of paths and trails and athletes must decide which is the best route to the check point.
After Olympus the athletes can pick up a small trail that will lead them to Snowden which is check point 3 another 11km or so, there is a natural spring just past Snowden where you can fill up your water bladders (does depend on how much rain has fallen so not always guaranteed a lot of water) before making your way to Avoca Peak the highest point (2756m) on the race. The climb up Avoca peak is challenging as the gradient is steep and the terrain is rough especially after good summer rain. From Avoca the route takes you over the “Dragonback” a ridge line that is about 3 meters wide with steep descends on either side, a fantastic formation of rock that is a feature of the race and a spectacular viewing point on a clear day. The route flattens out for a while as you move towards CP6 at Skidor which is again a leg of about 10km. At Skidor you descend into the valley down a technical descend before picking up the river that will lead you to the compulsory stop at Balloch Cave having now covered about 55km of the race.
Once Athletes have done their medical and been give the all clear by the doctor, it upwards and onwards as they take on the challenge of “The Wall” a climb with a vertical ascent of over 500m in just 3km and back down the other side on the way to the dirt road after reaching the dirt road turn right onto the road and 4 km down the road is the finish line at Wartrail Country Club.
The SkyRun is an Epic Mountain run of 100km considered by many athletes to be the toughest Trail Run in South Africa. The event is made up of three options, the SkyRun Marathon, starts on the Sunday 6 am at balloch running a marked route of 42km all the way to Wartrail Country Club for the finish line you have 7 hours to complete the marathon. The SkyRun 65, a one day run, where you have from the start of the race to Midnight to complete. The big daddy of trail the SkyRun 100, where you start on Saturday morning at 4am and have until 10 am on Sunday morning to complete. The event takes place in November each year and is unique in that the event is self-supported and athletes must navigate themselves between the check points on the route. This is one of the few runs that is unmarked and un-supported and this is one of the reasons that it is considered to be such a challenge and a must for most serious trail runners. Entries are limited to 250 athletes for both events.
The 100km/65km runs is not recommended if you are a beginner trail runner, and proof of previous trail event finishes may be required. Rather opt for the Marathon run presented on the same weekend.
- GRADING: Very Difficult to Extreme depending on the temperature and water on Mountain
- DURATION: Anything from 8hrs to 16hrs
- CONFIGURATION: Start in Lady grey and traverse the Witteberg Mountain to Wartrail Country Club
- START POINT: Lady Grey
- GPS COORDINATES: 30.7135°S 27.2186°E
- TERRAIN: Mainly no track Navigation by GPS
- ENTRIES: Limited to 100
- MAP: Basic map to be provided
- TRAIL MARKINGS: None, must self-navigate – GPS units/GPS Watches are compulsory
- FACILITIES: Camping and B&B in area
- CELL RECEPTION: Minimal coverage in valley’s on mountain coverage
- BEWARE: Hydration is critical and keep a look-out for snakes and loose rocks
- LOCAL INFO: www.ladygreytourism.co.za