Not even chilly temperatures and rain could dampen the spirits at the 2023 Tankwa Trail. Hosted at the Kaleo Guest Farm, on the Koue Bokkeveld Plateau outside Ceres, the weather did its utmost to disrupt festivities. Yet the trail runners were undaunted, running through cold conditions and braving buckets of overnight rain to revel in a weekend well spent among friends, in nature.
Read all about the Tankwa Trail’s sister event, the Momentum Medical Scheme Tankwa Trek, presented by Biogen, MTB race.
Starting with a 5 kilometre night run – on Friday, 21 April – the stage race also featured a 24 kilometre stage on Saturday and a 21 kilometre final day’s run on Sunday, 23 April. The night run, though optional, boasted a neon theme; which helped everyone get into the spirit of the event. There were glow sticks, luminous outfits and even high visibility vests aplenty as roughly half the field raced the setting sun.
Saturday morning dawned icy cold. Yet spirits were high and the runners bundled into the Du Toit Fruit farms’ staff transport busses for the drive to the stage’s start. Both Stage 1 and Stage 2’s routes were a mix of rocky singletrack and jeep track, smooth trails, as well as short sections of gravel roads. The first of the two longer days was arguably better suited to road runners venturing into the trail scene.
“Our thinking behind the Tankwa Trail’s routes is to provide a good mix of terrain, but to keep it mostly runnable,” race director Bernard le Roux explained. “Rather than sending runners up and down steep mountain trails we wanted to ensure that the event becomes a stepping stone in terms of distance, difficulty and technicality to the Rhodes Dryland Traverse. It also needs to stand alone however, as a must-do race of its own, a goal I think we’re building the Tankwa Trail nicely towards.”
For the avid technical trail runners the rocky tracks through the low ridgelines of the Koue Bokkeveld provided a test of careful foot placement and enforced a staccato rhythm. For those more comfortable on the road the smooth trails and a long, compact, dual track allowed for an efficient pace. Thomas Miller and Helen Bosman proved most efficient on the opening day. Miller, dominated the stage in the solo men’s race, establishing a 3 minute and 47 second advantage over Christiaan Potgieter; while Bosman’s margin of victory was a narrow 54 seconds, ahead of Lisa Loubser.
While the day’s running had undoubtedly been highly enjoyable the fun kicked up a notch on Saturday afternoon. Initially powered by delicious lasagne, one of the many amazing meals served over the course of the weekend, and then by warming pancakes, the perfect winter treat. Later in the day, Sunset Sweatshop performed a brief pre-dinner set.
The band then returned after prize giving to continue their show. Hits, like Coming Along, got the crowd dancing, which proved good for the easing of stiff legs. The Wellington Wines claret also helped shake out the sore bodies, to an extent…
On Sunday morning, the 08:30 start and double shot Beans About Coffee cappuccinos helped get those who had over indulged on the dance floor back on track for the final stage. The fact that the rain abated for the first time since Saturday afternoon, at 07:30, also help lift spirits tremendously. At the sharp end the pace on Stage 2 was as fast as it had been the day before, despite more climbing per kilometre. While further back trail runners dodged puddles before power hiking up the day’s main climb.
Once again Miller and Bosman were the fastest of the solo men and women, respectively. Miller’s nearest rival for the second day in a row was Potgieter, though the gap was over 6 minutes on the day. In the women’s race Elmie de Jager was second on the day, 2 minutes 20 behind Bosman, though this was not enough to catapult her onto the final category podium. Bosman was joined by Loubser and Bianca Malan at the top of the women’s general classification. While Miller shared the stage with Potgieter and Nichol Jordaan.
There were also prizes for the fastest men over 90 as well as 100 kilograms, the fastest women over 70 kilograms, women over the age of 50 and men and women team categories. Every finisher was deserving of celebration though, as the Tankwa Trail runners again proved how tough trail runners are. The weather never perturbed them. Some even took to the course without warm clothing, despite the icy temperatures; undaunted.
Dryland Event Management’s famous hospitality helped ease everyone through the worst of the weather of course. Along with the hearty meals the Bedouin tent, which stretched over the stage and dining area, was dotted with heaters around which runners congregated. The Kaleo bar, with its fireplace, was also a popular hangout; not only for the beverages they served. Though those, along with the trails and the promise of another live performance next year, are sure to help lure trail runners back to the Tankwa Trail in 2024.
2023 Tankwa Trail General Classification Results
- Thomas Miller (3:15:14)
- Christiaan Potgieter (3:25:10 | +09:56)
- Nichol Jordaan (3:35:32| +20:18)
- Johann Bouwer [90kg +] (3:39:43 | +24:29)
- Pieter Hugo [90kg +] ( 3:41:34 | +26:20)
- Helen Bosman (3:55:48)
- Lisa Loubser (4:03:09 | +07:20)
- Bianca Malan (4:06:29 | +10:40)
- Elmie de Jager (4:08:19 | +12:31)
- Orla du Toit (4:13:09 | +17:20)