Trailing through Hospitality
by Fran Siebrits
April in the Karoo is arguably the best time of year to visit – the summer heat is settling, the winds seem to be more gentle than usual and the winter bite has not quite woken up yet. However, this massive part of South Africa has a harsh beauty for which it is renowned, and the unpredictability of the weather adds an exciting element to its reputation.
Fortunately, these two days covering 65km were generously hospitable, a theme that was extended to participants in every other way humanly possible. Welcome to the Karoo!
A small group of about twenty different runners from across the country, most of whom didn’t know each other, gathered to co-habit for three nights and two days. A recipe for disaster, some would say.
On the contrary, we all left with a greater sense of community and connectedness. So why did we all feel so strongly attracted to the Karoo? Apart from the beauty, it’s due to the generous and hospitable environment. And how was this environment created? It’s obvious that credit is due to the people operating this well-oiled machine! A network of family and friends work closely with Willem Avenant, race organiser, and his Karoo Running team.
The bar was already set very high on arrival with goodie bags packed to the brim; and this standard of abundance did not flay once. It was obvious from the first meal, all lovingly sourced and prepared by Erika from Karoo Cuisine, we were not going to starve. Locally sourced veggies and greens accompanied the famous Karoo meat dishes - a Banter’s delight! Each meal was a spread of fresh decadence and even the vegetarians were treated like kings with home-made, high-protein tasty alternatives.
The mild weather allowed us to relax outside around the campfire where evenings were spent chatting and laughing. Some took the opportunity to sample the sponsored beer and wine (another massive plus on the hospitality front) not letting the next day’s distance deter them from getting a good dose of the Karoo’s night skies and kuiervuur conversation.
Although only in its second year, Willem wishes to keep this event small and intimate, with hospitality at its core. This boutique experience is laid on to encourage participants to immerse themselves in the Karoo, rather than just to race through it.
This is running hospitality at its best!
If you can’t wait until next year for a Karoo Running experience, then don’t miss Koppie X-ing’s big brother event, Sneeuberg Traverse. These three days of trail running will take place 2-5 November 2017, covering 100km which include more technical trails crossing the iconic Sneeuberg.
- Location: Murraysburg
- Distance: 65km over 2 days (1 x aide station per day)
- Technicality: The terrain is not very technical, mainly farm roads and disused tracks – a great introduction to off-road and stage running
- Elevation gain: Stage 1 - 485m ; Stage 2 - 230m ; Total 715m
- Expected temperatures: The unpredictability of the Karoo’s weather can leave one guessing what to pack - prepare for anything between 0 and 30 degrees
- Price: R4500 (2017), includes all accommodation, meals and drinks (except for cash bar at the final night’s prize giving dinner)
- Next Koppie X-ing: dates to be confirmed but tentatively 26-28 April 2018. Entries open Sept 2018