“An extraordinary 100 miler run in Kwazulu-Natal through forests and over mountains.
— Hanno Langenhoven
Race - Sep 21, 2018
Birding · River/Creek · Views · Waterfall · Wildlife
The Karkloof100 is a 100 Mile Endurance Foot Race set to take place between the 22nd and 24th of September 2017 in the Karkloof area of KZN. One of only three 100 mile trail races in South Africa, it will be the first to take place in KwaZulu-Natal.
The Karkloof, renowned for its indigenous forests, wetlands, and grasslands is an ideal setting for the extreme challenge that aims to push the boundaries of trail running in South Africa by attracting top class, local, and international field to compete over what is considered the ultimate distance in trail running.
Need to Know
Benvie Garden at the turn around point is a spectacular rest point.
The weather is highly unpredictable in this area during the official running of Karkloof 100. Temperatures can easily range from 36 degrees Centigrade (high) to 0 degrees Centigrade (low) over the duration of the run.
The 100 Miler starts and finishes at the Yard 41, in Howick. There is an initial short climb up a dirt road to get into WESSA Umngeni Valley where the route hugs the cliff tops along jeep track and singletrack. On leaving WESSA the route enters Westfalia (a fruit farm) where the route climbs through a network of Farm Roads. Le Petit (a cheese farm and coffee shop) is the final landmark before arriving at the first Aid Station at 11 Karkloof.
On the return leg, the course is run in reverse providing more descent than ascent in the final stages of the race
Soon after leaving Karkloof 11, the course makes its way onto Sappi Land and the well-known flowing trails of the Karkloof Mountain Biking Club. With less climbing than the first section (1,000 ft/300m) and smooth flowing trail, you can expect this section to be fairly easy going.
After passing the Shafton Airfield at the high point on this section the course descends into the farmlands where the trail follows the meandering Kunene River before popping out onto a district road that will take runners directly north to the second aid station positioned at the Rockwood Lodge offices.
On the return leg the climb back up to the Airfield will be challenging, but the singletrack down the other side back into Karkloof 11 is flowing and dreamlike!
This is the shortest section of the race, but will probably prove to be the toughest as it includes the highest point along the course at (4,500 ft/1400 m) above sea level and includes (1,640 ft /500 m) of elevation gain on the way out and (1,400 ft /440 m) on the way back in.
It is also the first time the course enters the indigenous forest of the Karkloof as runners near the top of the climb. There is a beautiful section of flowing, contouring singletrack through Rockwood before descending down a gravel road to Karkloof Canopy Tours. From here, the course remains at the foot of the Karkloof mountain range, picking its way through farmlands through to Bushwillow. One of the farms the course passes through, known as Phuzamoya, belonged to the late Ian Player, a legendary conservationist.
The approach to Bushwillow is through moderate rolling hills, with the occasional pull. For runners in the second half of the field, it is likely to start to get light through the latter parts of this section.
Leaving Bushwillow, the course descends and then climbs a bit before leveling off for a few miles through the Shaws’ farms. The road up the Twin Falls Valley is a gentle climb before crossing the bridge and running back down the other side of the stream. After crossing the main Karkloof dirt road, the trail meanders through UCL pine plantation before climbing up to Mbona Main Gate where the 4th Aid Station will be located.
This section offers a lot of flat running opportunities in both directions. The climb up to Mbona Gate is likely to challenge a few runners as they approach the 40 mile mark. On the return leg, this is likely to be quite a fast section with lots of fast descending opportunities and not much climbing.
There is a short climb from the Mbona Gate onto the contour path that leads the route around little Mbona which is a fairly flat and smooth trail. This is followed by (1.2 mi/ 2km) of gravel road before winding through the dams and lakes scattered around Mbona. The trails are grassy and occasionally divert off into lush patches of indigenous forest. The trail generally descends all the way to the bottom gate where the course exists Mbona and heads for Benvie.
A short and steep climb, which includes navigating the swing bridge, takes you over into the Benvie Valley where the course winds its way through the spectacular Benvie Gardens. The final distance involves some climbing up the the 5th Aid Station that also serves as the turn around pint and the start of the 50 miler.
This section involves some climbing in both directions, but the trail is smooth and the footing good.
Flora & Fauna
The Karkloof Nature Reserve is a vital and significant area because of its biodiversity. The Reserve consists of about 60% mistbelt forest, 40% mistbelt grassland and ranges from (3,280 ft/1000 m) to (5,797 ft/1767 m) above sea level. This results in a significant number of endemic and near-endemic species of fauna and flora, including the Karkloof Blue Butterfly (Orachrysops ariadne), and a sub-species of the crested guinea fowl.
The surrounding area is also home to all three of South Africa's Crane species.
History & Background
2017 was the inaugral running of the Karkloof100. The greater area also hosts the Three Cranes Challenge in February which is a three day stage race.