Ever feel the siren call of the open road? Well, even if you haven’t, don’t you think it’s time you slipped into something a little more athletic and experience what the hype is all about? Limber up those quads and stretch those calves and let’s get physical.
Running culture today is far more welcoming and varied than the jog of yesteryear. You don’t have to wear high cut shiny shorts, mesh crop top and a John McEnroe style sweatband (although you can if you want to). No, today is about running your way. That means you can hit the open road, take a jog through the park, or tackle the wild trails. Whatever gets you going.
And we are going to help you on your way by offering up the best runs that the Midlands have to offer. From short run/walks for those of us looking for a more p-leisure-able experience, to off-road marathons - for those who have to chase a challenge.
Ok, let’s start with the big boys. This event has steadily gained in popularity since its inception in 2012 and attracts participants with a range of fitness levels. Scheduled annually in August, the 42km run is for licensed runners, but there are 21km and 10km options as well. So get into the spirit of the day and enjoy the freedom of the open road. And if the running is just not your bag, then why not support the athletes from the roadside? All roads lead to Rome, or in this case: all races finish at the iconic Nelson Mandela Capture Site in Howick. We can’t think of a more powerful and uplifting way to end a race.
If the call of the wild sings strongly in your ears, you may want to choose the off the road option to commemorate Mandela Day. In conjunction with the Mandela Day Marathon, KZN Trail Running is hosting the Mandela Day Trail Run in August. As with the road event, there is a selection of courses to suit a range of athletic abilities and walkers are welcome! You can choose the short, medium or long trails which are 4km, 8km and 15 km respectively. The race kicks off at the Capture Site and is bound to be a run to remember.
For the crazies out there who just have to pit their prowess against insane challenges, say hello to the Karfloof 100 Miler. It is an ultimate test of endurance for elite trail running athletes. If a 100-mile footrace is biting off just a little more than you can chew, there’s also the 50 Miler held on the same weekend.
So, perhaps the 100 or 50 miles is just a few steps too far. Worry not budding athletes and weekend walkers. There are numerous trail runs/walks through the hills and indigenous forest trails of the Midlands that don’t require you enduring an epic multi-day odyssey through the bush. Trail runs of varying lengths and difficulty levels abound. Like the WESSA uMngeni River Run in Howick. The courses range from 12km all the way up to 75 km - making it a great prep run for the 100 Miler. WESSA also hosts the jolly Christmas Evening Run at the end of the year - a super opportunity to dress up, get merry and make tracks on 5 and 10 km courses. How about joining the Karkloof Club Trail Run which takes full advantage of the 5, 10 and 20km routes through the beautiful Karkloof forest or taking to the trail at the Eston Trail Run. Finally, you could try your hand (or feet as the case is) at the 5, 10 or 20 km courses on offer at the Summer Series Hilton Trail Run that set out from the lovely grounds of Hilton College.
There could not be a post on running without giving a shout out to the Park Runs. A worldwide phenomenon that encourages people to get out there and get active with a 5 km walk or run. It is a programme where you pit yourself against your previous Park Run times. You can race with mates or saunter and socialise. Whatever your pace, the Park Run is for you. In the Midlands, we have the Nottingham Park Run which kicks off at Windmills Kitchen and from there, winds through the trails that meander the Brahman Hills estate (which, in our totally unbiased opinion, we think is pretty majestic).
Now, these events are just a taste of the runs available in the Natal Midlands. There are many others throughout the year that are worth having a go at. And after you have had your dose of healthy, outdoor activity, book yourself a spa session to treat your toes and care for your quads. You’ll deserve it after all that running around!