The third running of the thrilling Karkloof 100 Miler trail race will commence on Friday evening, 20 September in Howick. First held in 2017, the event was an immediate success and quickly acquired cult status amongst the ultra-trail running community in South Africa and continues to attract attention as it gains prestige throughout the rest of the world. So much so that at the end of 2018, only a few months after its second running, the 2019 event was granted qualifier status for the 2020 Western States 100, arguably one of the most famous 100 mile trail events in the world. This status has just recently been renewed for the 2021 event!
100 Mile events are generally considered by trail runners to be one of the most ultimate trail running challenges and as such athletes will invest a great deal of time and effort in preparing for what will probably be the highlight of their year on the trails. The Karkloof 100, or KK100 as it is affectionately known, has an out and back format starting and finishing at the popular Yard41 in beautiful Howick, hub of the KZN Midlands. The turn around point is at the 50 mile mark at the stunning Benvie Gardens which is also the start of the 50 Miler event which heads off from there at 7am on Saturday 21 September. It is a great spectator spot too, although unless you are willing to brave the dark, early hours of the morning you will miss the leaders coming through!
The route traverses some of the most beautiful regions of the Karkloof and is run on single track, farm track and dirt road, much of this in the dark and for some participants they will be out there for two consecutive nights. Entrants will get to experience lush plantations, dense indigenous forest and breath-taking open grasslands – it truly is a once in a lifetime adventure.
Through it's partnership with the Southern Lodestar Foundation, for every KK100 participant one school child in the Karkloof will be provided with a nutritious breakfast five days a week for seven years!
The scenic Karkloof is the scenic destination for the prestigious Karkloof 100 Miler event.
This year the competition has been ramped to the next level when it was revealed that a Jackpot prize of US$5000 would be awarded, thanks to KK100 title sponsor the Southern Lodestar Foundation. The purse is up for grabs to any male runner to complete the 100 mile course in under 15 hours or any female to do so in less than 16 and a half hours! A compelling incentive indeed, and one that has attracted the likes of Johan van der Merwe, a multiple road and track ultra-distance record holder. He currently holds the record for the Washie 100 Miler which he completed in 13:07:05 in 2012 but will he be able to perform to the same level over 100 miles of trail? KK100 followers can’t wait to see.
The inaugural event was won by Bennie Roux and Naomi Brand in 18:11:43 and 18:19:39 respectively and the 2018 event was won by Albert Phungula and Sandra Le Roux in 17:52:41 and 24:23:59 respectively.
Whether you are an avid trail runner yourself, a follower of all things athletically extreme in nature or simply a lover of the stunning KZN Natal Midlands, this is one event you do not want to miss out on! There are plenty of opportunities to spectate, and the energy, vibe and camaraderie around the event truly need to be experienced by all – inspiring stuff.
And as if all of this isn’t enough to invoke the “feel good”, through partnership with the Southern Lodestar Foundation, a breakfast feeding project has been implemented whereby for every runner that crosses the start line of KK100 in 2019, one school child in the Karkloof will be fed every day, 5 days a week for seven years! It’s an event that truly embraces the spirit of community and gives back wherever possible.
Karkloof 100 Miler 2018 men’s winner, Albert Phungula triumphed after a gruelling 17 hours and 52 minutes of racing.
Photograph credits: Phonix Capture and AdventureLife SA, Terrene Vrugtman