For the first time in the race’s long history, general entries have opened for the 34th Rhodes Run taking place on Saturday, 29 June 2024. The challenging route follows roads and paths high above the historic village of Rhodes situated in the southern Drakensburg mountains of the Eastern Cape. Friday, 17 May, is the closing date for entries in this iconic trail run.

For more than three decades, entry to the Rhodes Run was strictly by invitation only. This year will see a new approach to the Rhodes Trail Run entry process. In an effort to make the Rhodes Run accessible to a broader community, a three tranche process has been instituted for the 2024 event by Rudi Hiestermann and Heather Ralph who have taken over the reins of organising the Rhodes Run from the Raubenheimers who coordinated the event for 26 years.

A first call for entries was issued to runners who received an invitation in 2023. The field was widened during phase two with invitations being sent to runners on the waiting list as at 08 July 2023. The organisers have now opened entries to any interested trail runner for the 2024 event before the closing date of 17 May 2024. The race has a limited field of 300 runners. Half the race numbers have already been filled.

Heather Ralph, the organiser of the Rhodes Run explains; “Since assuming responsibility for this incredibly special event in 2023, we want to open the opportunity for participation to all trail running enthusiasts who want to explore the exceptional beautiful scenery of the majestic Drakensberg mountains.”

“Stepping in the very large shoes left by the Raubenheimers who forged the legacy of the Rhodes Run is daunting. However, as the popularity of trail runs especially in the unspoilt areas of our country has increased exponentially, we are wanting to attract more people to the Rhodes Run and the attractions of the area by opening the entries to any interested participant. The revised entry process adopted for 2024 has already received a positive response.”

The 52km route starts and ends in the village of Rhodes. Commencing at an altitude of 1800m, the route reaches its highest point at 2680m and has an average “on top” of 2560m. The cumulative climb is approximately 1600m. Depending on the prevailing weather conditions, the trail run ascends on gravel roads then meanders along stock paths and trails through farms along the Lesotho border to just below Ben MacDhui (the second highest peak in the Eastern Cape at 3001m), before descending along the road that accessed the now closed ski resort, Tiffendell.

The idea of the race was conceived during a discussion between Rhodes property owners over a couple of drinks in 1986. The intention was to put Rhodes back on the map before it followed the same fate as other small platteland villages which faded into obscurity. This vision led to the birth of a unique event on the South African sports calendar. The first event was staged in July 1989, and was almost called off due to very heavy snow falls during the night before the event.

If the terrain does not provide enough challenge for those brave enough to tackle the Rhodes Run, the inclement weather in the Eastern Cape Highlands adds another dimension to the race experience. It is common for the temperature at the start to be below zero (usually around -10 degrees Celsius!). However, the warm hospitality of the Rhodes community and the festive atmosphere created by the participants and their families more than compensates for the cold tough conditions of the Rhodes Run.

As organisers residing permanently in Rhodes, Heather and Rudi are passionate about involving the local community in all aspects of the Rhodes Run from catering, arranging activities, hosting to crafting the components of the  goodie bags. Heather stresses, “With the support and participation of the community, we are striving to create an experience for runners and their families that is cherished in their memories and brings them back year after year.”

Testament to this is the number of repeat participants with 1177 people having completed the Rhodes Run more than three times, nine have more than 20 races under the belt with two hold the reverted Gold Race numbers of more than 30 events.

In the true spirit of trail running there are no financial prizes, other than a few floating trophies.   All the runners are treated equally with the same pre and postrace hand-outs that are sourced from craft projects in the local community.

Surrounded by magnificent mountains and pristine rivers, the Rhodes village dating back to the Victorian-era was declared a conservation area in 1997. Participants and their families can soak up the tranquil village ambience which is a fantastic weekend getaway.  The organisers have many activities planned for the weekend to keep the supporters occupied during the race.

More information is available on and race organiser, Heather Ralph, can be contacted on