The countdown to the closing date for entries in the 34th Rhodes Run happening on Saturday, 29 June 2024, has started. With Friday, 17 May 2024, rapidly approaching, the organisers of the Rhodes Run are encouraging all interested trail runners to complete the  and submit the entry form available online for this year’s event.

The Rhodes Run, open to all trail runners, follows a challenging route along roads and paths high above the historic village of Rhodes situated in the southern Drakensburg mountains of the Eastern Cape. For more than thirty years, entry to the Rhodes Run was strictly by invitation only but the new organisers have widened the 2024 event to any interested parties.

Heather Ralph, the organiser of the Rhodes Run explains; “Taking over the reins of this unique event in 2023 has afforded us the opportunity to reassess the views expressed by various parties and introduce a new approach. Following careful consideration, we decided to open the Rhodes Run 2024 to all trail running enthusiasts who want to explore the exceptional beauty of the majestic Drakensberg mountains.”

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.

With the field capped at a maximum of 300 runners, participants can appreciate the breath taking beauty of the unspoilt mountain vistas accentuated by the crisp winter air and the stillness of the open landscapes. The extreme conditions including snow, rain, high altitudes and icy river crossings appeal to the sense of adventure inherent in all trail runners. Heavy snow falls are a factor that must be taken seriously – the first event staged in July 1989 was almost a no-starter due to heavy snow falls the night before. High altitude training and warm gear are essential with the sub-zero start and temperatures rising fractionally as runners make their way to the top of the escarpment.

Whilst the runners battle the elements that will add definitely add spice to the war stories around the fire later in the day, family and friends can enjoy the warm hospitality of the local community who embrace the spirit of the Rhodes Run.  Flowing from a discussion in the local watering hotel between local property owners back in 1986, the intention of the event was to put Rhodes back on the map before it followed the same fate as other small platteland villages which faded into obscurity.

In an effort to keep the vision and tradition of the event alive, the organisers, Heather and Rudi, are committed to involving the local community in all aspects of the Rhodes Run from hosting, accommodation, preparing hearty meals, arranging plenty of activities to crafting the components of the goodie bags.

Heather explains, “The Rhodes Run attracts a host of visitors to our area who may never have heard of the tiny village or be familiar with the attractions of the area such as hiking, alpine flowers, fly fishing, mountain biking or exploring the legendary passes that wind through the different districts of the Eastern Cape highlands. We hope that people will fall in love with the landscapes and people of this very special corner of the southern Drakensberg and come back to visit.”

“As the running calendar keeps expanding, we want to attract those families who love adventure especially when it involves a road trip to less explored areas of our incredibly diverse country. We look forward to extending you a warm welcome in Rhodes.”

More information is available on www.rhodesrun.co.za and race organiser, Heather Ralph, can be contacted on heather@rhodesrun.co.za