South Africa’s Drakensberg mountains has a real special trail run called the Mnweni Marathon. The Mnweni Marathon is often a favorite race on the trail runners calendar. The focus of this trail running race is on the mountain as opposed to the competition, publicity or prize money. The Mnweni Marathon is a self-navigation, self-supporting 42k day in the beautiful Drakensberg. What more could any trail runner want?
The weekend routinely begins with a race briefing after which everyone spends a very chilly evening in the campsite discussing the best route to the pass, what to wear, what food to take and how to navigate the tricky river crossings and pathless grassy saddles. Without the hype of most races, a quiet countdown was done and a stream of headlights started down the dirt road towards the mountain.
The Mnweni pass is a good equalizer! It separates the field as they make their way up the relentless switchbacks to the top. The 2 kilometers of oxygen sucking climbing takes the leaders about 50 minutes. The rewards at the top are incredible if you can afford to take a second and look down from where you came. After a brief traverse over the top you begin your descent down ‘Rockeries Pass’. It is a dangerously steep, technical descent scattered with loose rock and screed.
When the steep bit of the mountain is done its time to play, the rest of the race is bouncy, fun single track all the way back to camp. Any trail runners dream!