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Thursday, 27 February 2014

Countdown to SA Long Distance Champs at Merrell Outeniqua Traverse begins

Mark Sampson

With the formalisation of Trail Running under the banner of ASA last year, this has paved the way for the staging of South African Championship events and selection of teams to represent South Africa at World Trail Running Championships. With the successful staging of first SA Long Distance Trail Champs at the Jonkershoek Mountain Challenge in 2013, which proved to be a very competitive race, the trail running community is eagerly awaiting the 2014 edition.

Merrell Outeniqua Traverse presented by Nikwax will host this year’s South African Long  Distance champs on its flagship 38km route.  Now in its seventh year, the route has established itself as being a tough and honest trail run with spectacular single-track and stunning views.  A circular route through the magnificent Cape Nature Outeniqua reserve, starting and finishing at the Botanical Gardens in the Garden Route town of George. With almost all of the 38km done on single-track, with three major climbs, technical traverses through river gorges and steep slippery descents, this route provides a true test of trail running ability. The ideal route for a South African Long Distance Championship. The race will also double as the SA Masters Champs.

“The race will also be the final event for trail runners to qualify for the South African team that will go to the World Long Distance Championships in August in Colorado, USA.” Altus Schreuder, Chairman ASA Trail running committee. “The winner and second place at the Merrell Outeniqua Traverse will gain automatic selection, with the remaining two spots being chosen from a series of races leading up to the SA Champs. We will make the team announcement at the prize giving of the event.”

In addition to the 38km race, Mountain Runner Events offer two further routes to accommodate all levels of fitness. A testing 25km race, which joins the spectacular 38km single-track for the final 12km and a 10km race to give the beginners a taste of trail running.

The Merrell Outeniqua Traverse also offers a unique Inter-Club Competition.  Runners in all three races, scoring points based on their time behind the winner in their respective race, with the top five point scorers from each club counting toward the inter-club competition.

With all races starting and finishing at the Botanical Gardens, it offers a pleasant day out for the whole family with ample lawns to picnic and cheer the runners home, while the kids enjoy the Merrell Jumping Castle.  The Southern Cape’s largest community radio station, Eden FM, will be broadcasting from the event and providing some jibes! Drinks and eats will be on sale throughout the day.

Entries open 1st March @ 09h00. See www.mountainrunner.co.za for race information.  A number of low cost airlines fly to George airport from Cape Town, Durban and Johannesburg. Plenty of accommodation available from www.georgetourism.org.za

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