SOUTHERN CROSS TRAILRUN – Part 1
Also better known as SOX, stands out as a diverse three-day trail running event that transcends the typical, inviting you to explore the breathtaking landscapes of mountains, forests, and coastlines. Hosted in one of the country’s premier tourist destinations, this event weaves through an area rich in history while immersing you in the diverse beauty of the surroundings.
Mountain Route: The start/ finish is at Nelson Mandela University (George Campus) which was originally established in 1932 as Saasveld Forestry College and today offers courses in Agricultural Management, Forestry and Nature Conservation as well as Business, Marketing and Tourism. The campus is a haven for any sport enthusiast, being located at the foot of the Outeniqua Mountains and in near the Garden Route Dam which was completed in 1984 to meet George’s rapidly growing water demand.
The race starts on the main campus, taking runners through pine plantations and across the Swart River below Pepsi Pools. A challenging ascent through indigenous forest, tracing the path of an old pipeline which once transported water will lead runners across the still active Outeniqua railway line, a monumental project which began in 1908 an culminated in 1913, features seven tunnels carved through the mountainside by a 2500-strong workforce.
The trail ascends further through the vibrant fynbos, reaching the original George Dam wall, a testament to engineering ingenuity from 1938. Ninham Shand’s design, incorporating one of South Africa’s first curved wall concrete structures, required innovative construction methods as a donkey train had to transport the concrete to the site due to space constraints for mixing facilities at the dam wall.
From here a strenuous climb will take runners to Tierkop Hut, positioned along the Outeniqua Hiking trail that spans from Witfontein to the famed Otter Trail. Taking a breather, a magnificent view that spans from Mossel Bay to Sedgefield may be enjoyed on a clear day. The route circles around Tierkop, descending through indigenous forest and trails through the plantations back to the finish line.
The Mountain Route not only challenges participants physically, but also offers a unique exploration of historical landmarks, showcasing a blend of natural beauty and human innovation. This day promises an unforgettable and enriching experience for trail running enthusiasts.