We often hear of the terrible things happening around us. The news channel and mediums have become depressing to pay attention to, due to the acts of violence against others and total disregard for this planet we call home. Unfortunately it is not uncommon for us to sit on the couch wondering; “What could I do?” before switching the channel to something more entertaining.

This past weekend, runners from all over South Africa, got off their couches to make a difference and show their support for our natural environment .  Due to our Rhino population being in crises Hano & Sonja Otto from Trisport, and the support from Nedbank put together a race that will help “Save the Rhino”.  Athletes that took part in this two day trail run (with a one day option) were exposed to the Mabalingwe Game Reserve, where  these athletes run amongst the animal tracks created by the multiple wild life that call this reserve home.

The Nedbank Save the Rhino Trail Run started at the family friendly caravan site on the reserve and took the athletes straight into the bushveld. Giraffe, impala, and bushpig were amongst the confused while these two-legged creatures came running through their world.  Dirk Cloete and Spaniard, Pedro Calderon took off with impala like speed and distanced themselves from the rest of the herd. Cloete kept the lead throughout the day with the quick Spaniard on his heels. “It was a fast day!” exclaimed Cloete. Third and fourth place had their own problems to deal with when they came across a healthy strong heard of African Buffalo blocking their single track.

The woman’s race was dominated by a very bouncy and cheerful Karine Bezuidenhout, keeping her lead over Diedre Watson van der Merwe and Madre Marx throughout the two days.

That evening the perfect waterhole for the tired runners, the Kalahari Oasis, served a great meal and created an amazing atmosphere for the second day of running.

Day 2

Day 2 presented itself with 21Km of fast racing. A mere 10km into the race, runners climbed Vodacom Hill which was a hard, tough climb up to the highest point and brought them back down and past the lion enclosure. “We loved the climb up to Vodacom Hill with the beautiful views. A typical Hano (Otto) race by taking us up to the highest point but we had such fun!” Natalie Saunders shares excitedly.

The race in the men’s category was neck and neck with Calderon taking an early lead over Cloete up Vodacom Hill with enough time to be able to take first place, however it would not be so as the local South African played the strategic game and finally took Calderon on the downhill. “I still can’t believe how fast it was and I am happy to be able to keep up and then take the lead over the youngster (Pedro).” Cloete shares while being massaged at the finish. When asked about the Spaniard’s lead up to the top, Dirk responds “I knew from yesterday that his downhill running was slower than mine which I guess is from sore feet, today I put on a harder shoe knowing that the downhill’s would be my advantage and I need to protect my feet”.  It paid off for Cloete who took the title at this year’s Nedbank Save the Rhino trail run.

The back markers had their own fun as they stumbled upon a heard of Elephant grazing just meters off the single track. This is what makes this race exciting, you never know what you are going to come across, buffalo or a calm heard of elephant.

The day ended with stories being shared and boerie-rolls.  As each runner sat on the grass tired and exhausted during prize giving, I could not help but realise that this is what it takes to make a difference, actively doing something for a worthy cause, and saving our beautiful Rhino is a cause worthy of our blood, sweat and tears! For more information and to enter this event in 2015, please go to www.trisport.co.za

Images & Editorial by Bruce Viaene

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