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UTD 2019: Something for everyone

Rhys Foster

The Southern Drakensberg is a haven for holidaymakers and with the Ultra-Trail Drakensberg Festival of Trail Running from April 26-28 falling in the region’s best weather period, the event’s various distances will appeal to runners of varying abilities.

Sani Pass Hotel is the base for much of what happens at the festival and is one of the gems of the region. For event stalwart Rhys Foster (pictured above) getting his family to the Berg from Johannesburg is always hugely exciting.

Outdoor lifestyle

“From fishing to hiking to swimming, my kids absolutely love it and we enjoy every minute we have up there,” Foster said.

“Embracing that outdoor lifestyle is crucial and the kids also pick up some valuable life skills.”

The family-friendly atmosphere of the Southern Drakensberg lends itself to a long weekend of trail running and relaxing. With two shorter options available, the GCU62 and the SDR30, Foster believes you don’t need to be a racing snake to get through them.

The photographs don’t quite do justice to the scenery and runners will have the most breathtaking views of the Southern Drakensberg during the UTD Festival of Trail Running from April 26-28. Pictures: Anthony Grote/Gameplan Media

“The shorter runs are not at as high altitude as the 160 and 100km race, so that makes them a little bit easier.

“Because the trails are so well marked and prepared you don’t have to worry too much about rolling an ankle or about it being too technical.

“I honestly feel that if you go a bit quicker than a hike then you are going to be fine.”


“My first Giants Cup (two-day trail run along the famous Giants Cup hiking trail) I was 106kg and I had done very little running and I found it was fairly easy.

“It is a tough trail but it is not difficult and, with regular checkpoints along the way, there is a lot of safety around,” he added.

Now read: UTD 2018, trail runners look to the mountains

Foster has taken part in the UTD160 and the UTD100 and this year will be doing the GCU62.

“I am a runner and people ask me why I don’t run Comrades. I tell them that trail running is my escape.

“I use running as a way to get away from the hype, the work, the fast-paced lifestyle of Johannesburg.

“When I get to the Southern Berg, it is just the best place on earth for me to unwind and destress,” Foster added.

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