Trail Run: Dryland Traverse
The Dryland Traverse trail running stage race may be dubbed an “Adventure Trail Run” and it certainly is, but the true differentiator between the Dryland Traverse and other events is the amazing spirit which prevails in the race village. Starting with registration on Thursday and continuing through until everyone departs after prize giving on Sunday a unique festival atmosphere envelops the race village, at the De Hoek Mountain Resort.
With many of the trail runners who take part in the Dryland Traverse returning year on year the event has become a reunion of sorts. The excitement of seeing old friends and the thrill of running through the Cango Caves, in the Prologue, ensures that everyone is in high spirits as they arrive at De Hoek. The short, eight kilometre, Prologue which takes place on the afternoon of registration also allows the field to work off any pre-race nerves right away. Rather than allow the runners to spend a restless night in the race village contemplating the distance to cover on Stage One, the Prologue provides a warm-up and a way to burn off that pre-race nervous energy – allowing for a good nights’ rest before the longest stage of the Dryland Traverse.
The bus drive to the start of Stage One, half way up the Swartberg Pass, is also a uniquely festive affair. With twenty seven kilometres of challenging trail running ahead of them, including a four kilometre climb at an average gradient of ten percent and a famously technical eight kilometre descent, an air of expectancy reigns ahead of the start – especially as the busses labour up the steeper sections of the lower slopes of the Swartberg Pass. But once the stage gets underway and the runners keen on racing have hared off up the pass the remainder of the field settles into a steady pace, chatting away as they conserve energy and take in the stunning mountain views.
At the heart of the spirit of the Dryland Traverse is the Saturday night party. Each year the event hosts a themed party and the trail runners let their hair down in spectacular fashion, dressing up and dancing the night away. There are prizes for the best outfit and the competition for these awards are arguably fiercer than the competition for race victory on the trails. The theme for the 2017 Dryland Traverse party is Cirque du Karoo (think flamboyant Burlesque or Steam Punk circus outfits with a touch of the Klein Karoo), so if you are planning on entering the race you should start planning our fancy dress costume now too.
The event wraps up with a short final stage on Sunday, which starts later than the previous two mornings to allow for a lie in after the festivities of the night before. With the running completed the trail runners enjoy a last delicious meal while prize giving honours the weekend’s top performers – celebrating the achievers on the trails and best dressed on the dance floor.