Race Report - Tankwa Trail 2022
What's on the agenda when taking part in the Tankwa Trail?
Run. Fun. Eat. Sleep. Repeat!
The Tankwa Trail experience is the equilibrium of all ecstatic emotions, wrapped up in one weekend of fun. Runners taking part can align themselves with trails, through rocky outcrops, fresh fruit plantations and the serenity of the Koue-Bokkeveld as backdrop.
Weather: Cold | Dark | Sandy | Forestry
Racing Time: 29:13
The #TankwaTrail weekend kicked off with a fun 5.3km night run to get the blood pumping for what lay ahead. This run usually forms part of the prologue but this year was a little different. Instead, the run did not end up counting towards overall time, and was not made compulsory. For this race, I teamed up with my friend and trail running legend, Caro Jordaan. We were a few minutes late to the race shoot and as we made our way to the start we got to watch runners dressed in all colours of the rainbow speed past us.
We were in hot pursuit and in no time caught up and started passing runners from behind. A sandy jeep track foreshadowed the mountain of sand we had to conquer the next day. Descending back down, we found ourselves winding through a dusky forest with only the moon and our head torches lighting the way. The forest trail led us back to the start, where a nice warm dinner of butter chicken welcomed us. As we made our way through dinner, race organiser/comedian Bernard gave us an in-depth breakdown of what the following day would hold. We then headed back to our luxury tents to get some much needed rest for a busy day ahead.
Day 1: Mountains of Sand
Weather: Icy | Sandy | Rocky | Misty
Racing Time: 02:00:48
Stage Result: 1st Place
GC Standing: 1st Place
The Koue Bokkeveld is aptly named, as it was just that, koud. On Day 2, Stage 1 the #TankwaTrail troopers took on 21.7km filled with excitement, beautiful scenery and a unique trail. The race started at the race village, a surprise to those that have competed previously in the Tankwa Trail as the Saturday and Sunday routes were switched. The route started off with a trail heading dead North through rocky outcrops and over stone formations edged out millions of years ago.
Three kilometres of open road helped to warm up the cold legs. Some made full use of this section to put some distance between them and the pack. Caro and I found our rhythm and made our way through the beautiful flowing tracks, passing thousand-year rock formations and over dam walls filled by the recent rains. We did this all the while working our way towards Ernst’s climb up to the waterpoint. Altitude made every breath a little harder, and coming to race at an average of 900m above sea level provided for an unforeseen challenge. A mountain of sand got us digging deep as the route found its way over wooden bridges, gorges and natural trails winding all the way to the top. Rewarded for your efforts when reaching the top, you were treated to a proper aid station. We powered through and started making our way back down towards Kaleo and a scrumptious lunch. Leading the ladies team from start to finish, confidence and stoke levels were pretty high as we crossed the finish line a mere two hours later. An early finish to prepare for the evening’s festivities!!
Day 2: Fast Finish
Weather: Mild | Dusty | Rocky | Flowing
Stage Result: 1st Place
GC Standing: 1st Place
The final stage at the 2022 #TankwaTrail once again did not disappoint! Day 2 kicked off with hot coffee and breakfast at 07:00. Day 2 proved to be another windless, icy cold morning. Luckily a late start allowed the sun to heat things up by the time we launched into another eventful day. Iconic to the Tankwa Trail race are the local trucks lent to transport runners to the start of the race on day 2. Not the smoothest ride, but then again trail running isn’t either. Howbill Farm was the start of a more flat and fast race for the final rally. Things kicked off with jeep tracks through the local apple orchards. The jeep tracks soon grew weary and were replaced by single track stretching as far as the eye can see. Gravel and more sand was the terrain of the day with no big mountains on the menu. I followed in teammate Caro’s footsteps as she set out on a comfortably hard pace. Before long we turned towards the village side with some undulating ups and downs. A waterpoint greeted us 10 kilometer in, situated on the edge of Ebenezer Groot Dam. We again opted to spare time and power past, eager to get to that finish line.
Nearing the race village, runners are directed behind Kaleo into a last bit of rocky single track straight into a slightly narrow, waterless canal that takes you all the way to the finish. Another flawless day for the Blister Sisters, crossing the finish line in great spirits. The weekend’s hard work was done and dusted followed by lunch and prize giving, and a well deserved finish line beer!
It was a weekend filled with a lot of laughter with friends, making new friends and creating memories to cherish forever. All trail troopers can be proud of themselves for conquering the Koue Bokkeveld trails! Dryland Event Management once again organised a flawless race that gave runners a glimpse of the pure magic that is the Koue Bokveld. Definitely a race that proves to be about the journey and not the destination. A team win with my partner in crime was the cherry on top of a weekend for the books!