Trail Blazing – Oyster Catcher (Mark Sampson)

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Reins Park Nature Reserve, Boggemsbaai, Vleesbaai and St Blaize hiking trail are places your average South African will never have heard of. Conversely Mossel Bay, Garden Route and Gouritz river mouth are more likely to be places South Africans are familiar with. Well the area very much one and the same and has recently hosted the Oyster Catcher trail run which takes place over three days. The brainchild of Hano and Sonja Otto from Trisport, who also happen to know the area rather well, is proving to be a favourite amongst the trailies. The hiking trail takes runners along some of the most spectacular coastline our country has to offer with a variety of wildlife to enjoy. The Oyster Catcher is one of the bird species runners can expect to see on route, and until recently was on the endangered species list. Part of the initiative of this run is to bring awareness to the plight of the species and educate the public in order to help preserve its fragile ecosystem it inhabits.

The trail run is primarily aimed at your trail runners looking for their first multi day stage race. The distances covered are manageable and the terrain, although technical in areas, is made up mainly of single track (hiking trails) and beach running.

Day one took the runners from Reins Nature Reserve past the towering lighthouse along the coast to Gouritz river mouth covering a distance of 25 kilometres. Day two with some more technical patches covered a distance of 20 kilometres with runners starting at Gouritz river mouth on the opposite bank of day 1 and ending in Boogemsbaai. On final day runners ran along the cliffs of the St Blaize hiking trail in Mossel bay from Dana beach 2 to the lighthouse at the point in Mossel bay.

This year approximately 120 runners enjoyed the terrain and although not aimed at the competitive runners some impressive results were noted. Next year only 100 athletes will be allowed and there will only be a 3 day option.  Interestingly is that 70% of the Runners were ladies this year. In the ladies division there was a hotly contested race between Helen Bosman and Charisse Hansen and Cecelia Raath. Helen Bosman won with merely a 30 seconds separating her and Charisse over the 3 days. Helen Bosman took the honours in a time of 6:43:45. In the men’s division, coming all the way from Jozi on a bus to compete, Tranquil Gumbo won in a total time over the 3 days of 5:20:47. He also took the honours on each stage of the race.

And so another Oyster Catcher trail run comes to a conclusion although it doesn’t mean no more races for the rest of 2015. Go check out www.trisport.co.za to find the next event in your area. Until next time go blaze a trail!

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