Running wild for conservation


Runners who take on the Kruger2Canyon Challenge this weekend will be rewarded with the spectacular and vast natural beauty of the Mpumalanga/Limpopo region.

The Kruger2Canyon Challenge is the newest trail run addition in the Old Mutual Wild Series.

The route starts at the northern tip of the Drakensberg in a small town called Kampersrus, goes through the flora-and-fauna-rich Blue Canyon Conservancy and along the breath-taking Blyde River Canyon.

Lying adjacent to the Kruger National Park, the Blue Canyon Conservancy is home to four of South Africa’s Big Five – just the mighty buffalo is missing – while the Blyde River Canyon, one of the great wonders of the African continent, is home to every type of primate species that can be found in South Africa. For a trail run, there can be no better setting.

Day one of this spectacular event is a 28km run over terrain that includes rocky river beds, koppies, large trees and flat open rocks. Day two is 45km long and includes taxing climbs up to the escarpment and then up and over Mariepskop, the highest point of the Blyde River Canyon.

This year the Old Mutual Wild Series has already taken athletes to the Karkloof, the Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Game Reserve and the Royal Natal National Park, which is part of the Maloti-Drakensberg World Heritage Site. These races are fun for all participants, but there is also a serious side. All events in the Old Mutual Wild Series provide an opportunity for participants to contribute to the conservation of these globally significant sites.

“Funds raised through the Kruger2Canyon Challenge will be used to support the Kruger to Canyons Biosphere Region, which aims to achieve a sustainable future for all life – human, plant and animal,” says Wildlands CEO Dr Andrew Venter.

The Biosphere includes unique flora and is home to elephant, rhino, lion and leopard, as well as rare antelope such as tsessebe, sable, roan and hartebeest. The region is also one of the last remaining viable habitats for the African Wild Dog in South Africa.

Karen Thomas, Old Mutual Head of Brand, believes the partnership between Wildlands and Old Mutual, and events like the Kruger2Canyon Challenge, will help draw attention to the need to conserve South Africa’s impressive and precious flora and fauna for future generations to enjoy.

“As a responsible, forward-looking business, Old Mutual has chosen to work closely with Wildlands on the Wild Series to raise awareness around environmental issues,” says Thomas. “We hope all runners enjoy the experience, but at the same time also learn something new about our natural heritage and its great value.”