A new name, a new adventure! The NAMIBIA CROSSING is a 200km, five-day foot race from South Africa to Namibia through the ancient arid landscape of the /Ai/Ais-Richtersveld Transfrontier Park. The race was previously known as the Richtersveld Transfrontier Wildrun, the new name reflects the ‘crossing’ of the Orange River and the doorway to Namibia.
From the crystal fields of Sendelingsdrif in South Africa to the infamous giant boulders of Tatasberg deep in the /Ai/Ais-Richtersveld Transfrontier Park; this unparalleled journey then crosses the Orange River into Namibia and the wild lands of the Fish River Canyon. This is the running experience of a lifetime; this is the this is the Namibia Crossing.
Add the dates to your diary, June 16th to June 22nd 2019
Overlaying the Orange River border line between South Africa and Namibia is a 5,920km2 arid mountain desert wilderness unlike any other in the world. This area is a jointly managed conservation initiative called the /Ai /Ais- Richtersveld Transfrontier Park, that incorporates the Richtersveld National Park in South Africa and the Fish River Canyon National Park in Namibia.
What this area contains is an ancient geological and natural landscape that is quite simply unparalleled on Earth. Not only is this is the oldest mountain desert in the world, it’s the richest one – holding more than a third of the worlds known succulent species. In fact, it’s second only to the Cape Floral Kingdom in terms of botanical diversity.
Throw in the largest canyon in Africa and some uniquely desert-adapted African wildlife and you have yourself a wilderness running experience that is quite simply unmatched.
The Race in Summary:
This 42km day takes us over the crystal fields, past the ‘Vyf Susters’ and up ‘Helskloof’ pass, to break through the ‘Numeesberge’ and into the heart of the Richtersveld and our overnight camp at De Koei.
This 33kms day takes us into the magnificent valley between the Tswayisberg and Vandersterrberg mountain ranges to a seldom visited ‘Armmanshoek’ (Poor-mans- corner). We overnight at Hakkiesdoring.
One of the most iconic days on the Namibia Crossing – this 39km day takes us across
the Springbok Vlakte, over the Tatasberg mountain and down to the Orange River.
Relaxing and washing off in the Orange River at De Hoop camp rounds out a thoroughly rewarding day.
The Namibia Crossing – A short boat trip across the Orange will drop you on Namibian soil and to the start of the longest day, at 50kms. This is a tough day but as your reward, you can relax in the hot hot springs right in the riverbed, where you will be staying the night. The final briefing will precede dinner in this open-air, canyon camp.
The final 25km takes on a final few bends of the Fish River, before we duck out, up Zebra valley, and follow game trails through the rolling foothills. There is a sting in the tail, but the view is worth it! A short elevator drop gets us to the finish at the Hot Springs Resort.
This is a fully supported running experience in a remote wilderness area which includes six nights fully-catered, individual tented accommodation, luxury bus transport from Cape Town to the reception venue and return, exquisite camp cuisine and a fully-stocked, remote camp setup. This also includes all entrance and permit fees, transport of personal items during the event and logistical & medical support throughout.
Embrace the journey of a lifetime!
South African entries and info:
Tamaryn Middleton – email@example.com or +27 21 789 0318. Otherwise try her mobile phone: +27 72 373 5081.
UK and European entries use the contact form below.
This is Episode 114 of Talk Ultra and we have two interviews from Western States – Ladies champion Kaci Lickteig and the incredible Jim Walmsley who looked to break all WSER records only to go off course at 92 miles. We also speak with Joanna Williams, the outright winner from South Africa’s Richtersveld Transfrontier Wildrun. We have the news, ultra chat and Ryan Sandes co-hosts!
Andrew Miller 15:39
Didrik Hermansen 16:16
Jeff Browning 16:30
notable Paul Giblin from UK 5th 16:53
Kaci Lickteig 17:57 4th fastest lady ever
Amy Sproson 18:54
Devon Yanko 19:10
00:27:42 INTERVIEW KACI LICKTEIG
RICHTERSVELD TRANSFRONTIER WILDRUN
Joanna Williams 22:23:01
Tobias Mews 22:42:00
Dawid Kaswarie 23:07:34
Daniel Meyes 25:18:20
Linda Doke 25:43:52
John Cuff 26:41:19
Ryno Bakkes 26:52:04
Elisabet Barnes 27:01:56
Christiaan Vorster 27:23:19
Stephen Cunliffe 28:23:19
01:04:45 INTERVIEW with JOANNA WILLIAMS
BIG RED RUN
Elisabet Barnes 19:47:39
Jamie Hildage 20:54:34
Andy Dubois 21:25:02
Top 3 ladies:
Elisabet Barnes 19:47:39
Helen Durand 23:35:04
Anna Bennett 25:54:10
Top 3 men:
Jamie Hildage 20:54:34
Andy Dubois 21:25:02
Braddan Johnson 22:29:18
*Audio for Big Red Run to follow in the next show
Andy Symonds 12:15:06 new CR
Gediminas Grinius 12:23:06
Javi Dominguez 12:36:45
Andrea Huser 14:32:39
Uxue Fraile 15:13:09
Fernanda Maciel 15:20:57
MONT BLANC 80K
Caroline Chaverot 11:40 (winner Transgrancanaria)
Diego Pazos 10:52 (3rd at Transgrancanaria)
David Norris 41:26 broke KJ’s record from last year by 22 secs
Christy Marvin 51:02
Denali Forager Stabel
WMRA in Slovenia
Annie Conway from UK world champ! ahead of Antonella Confortola and Lucija Krkoc
Alessandro Rambaidini beat Marco De Gasperi and Mitja Kosovelj
Robert Young of the U.K. appears to have succumbed to a foot injury somewhere around Indianapolis, falling short in his attempt at a Guinness world record for the transcontinental run. The tracker has not moved since June 17. Though no concrete resolution was reached on the claims of cheating, the run’s final week was mired in controversy and is likely to remain a polarising topic? “Skins’ are investigating… HERE
Timmy Olson – American Tarzan…. Discovery Channel HERE“When Tim gets low on energy, he goes into his trademark “Animal Mode,” and enters the “Pain Cave” to get through it – training which will serve him well in the jungle!”
Coming up – Hardrock 100, High Trail Vanoise, Dolomites SkyRace and the Skyrunning World Champs
“South African trail running pioneer Linda Doke and 2015 Marathon des Sables female champion, Elisabet Barnes placed 2nd and 3rd respectively in the ladies’ race. Both ladies summing up their experiences with a similar thought process, “What an incredible privilege it was to spend 5 days running through this magnificent part of the world on the Richtersveld Transfrontier Wildrun®. Sometimes it takes experiencing places like this to remind us how just how fragile and yet so powerful nature is, and how unbelievably insignificant we are in the bigger scheme of things.” – Linda Doke –
Here are the faces of the 2016 Richtersveld Transfrontier Wildrun, today, Friday 17th June they will run the final 26km to complete the ‘transfrontier’ run.
A relaxed day with a late start, making sure we maximise the amazing natural hot springs before the final chip to the /Ai-/Ais Hot Springs Resort. Around the first bend, the runners find themselves climbing up a short cut, before turning a corner on a long stretch of Fish River Canyon. An unsuspecting slot ravine swallows everyone up from the river, taking them on an exploration to the east of the Fish River Canyon on well-worn game trails. Climbing to a high point before winding back to cross the Fish River Canyon again. Running up another dry wash following Zebra trails to below a climb to the peak above the /Ai-/Ais Hot Springs Resort and a magnificent view over the mountain wilderness surrounds. A technical descent brings the runners back to the Fish River and soon cheers bring everyone to the finish of the Richtersveld Transfrontier Wildrun®.
From here, the runners had a short run down stream for a few kilometres before reaching a small section of ‘main’ jeep track that runs past Oom Kobus Jansen’s old farm.
A runnable climb up Jansen’s Aloof follows to the base of Zebra pass, so named for the clear trail created by the Hartmann’s Mountain Zebra – a species of zebra especially adapted to arid and desert environments.
What followed will be one of the most memorable sections of the day and maybe of the race for some, following a wild game trail rollercoaster down Zebra Kloof to meet with the enormous Fish River Canyon.
Once in the canyon, it’s a steady and hard fought battle up the Fish River Canyon to the Wilderness Hot Springs Camp to enjoy a welcome rest in natural hot springs.
Today, Elisabet Barnes found her legs and in her own words said, “I had a great day, I loved it!” Starting in the 2nd to last group, Elisabet caught all the runners before her and held off the top 3 runners of Tobias Mews, Jo Williams and David Kaswari all the way to the line but a slight navigation mishap in the final km allowed David Kaswari to pass her and with a sprint he took the stage victory – Elisabet finished 2nd.
Jo Williams and Tobias Mews finished just behind Elisabet and Tobias commented, “It was a tough day today, we made a few navigational errors and the terrain dictated that we needed to walk certain sections. The course and the route though was just amazing. It was a highlight of the week, it combined the best of the Richtersveld and Fish River Canyon was just amazing… I was sad to finish but I was also glad it was no longer; it was a tough day!”
Ultimately, it was a tough day and a tough day for all. The runners ran into the night and head-torches glowed in the pitch black night as the final runners ran into camp, 12+hours after starting.
Highlights of the day were discussed around camp fires under African skies with plates of hot stew – talk of Zebra, Ostrictch, Kudu and incredible sights. The Richtersveld Transfrontier Wildrun really did come to life today and as Owen Middleton (race director) said at the pre-race briefing, the opportunity to run and spend time in this wilderness is a complete privilege. It’s not our right to be here but an immense and memorable opportunity. It’s one the runners will not forget!
Overall, although not yet confirmed, the top 3 ladies and top 3 men positions will not have changed.
Tomorrow is the final day and at 36km, it will be a welcome shorter day but it has 3 climbs and a 300m technical descent to the finish at AI-AIS HOT SPRINGS RESORT.
Golden light illuminated the ‘Springbok Flats’ and moody blue clouds provided a stunning contrast to the opening miles of day 3 of the 2016 Richtersveld Transfrontier Wildrun.
It was a stunning start to the day. As the runners progressed across the flats, they were spotlit as they worked their way to one of the key highlights not only of the day but the whole Richtersveld Transfrontier Wildrun – the Tattasberg Boulders.
Huge balls of rock, some the size of houses, leave an impression on the mind and eyes. Following a line of markers (the only section of the race to be marked for safety reasons) the runners weaved a route up, over and around the huge marbles of stone and at the top they then worked their way down to the valley and a downhill run to the Orange River. Across the water, Namibia and stage 4 of the race.
But first, 10km’s of sandy trails would lead in to camp and the stunning setting on the banks of the river.
As per day 2, the race had several start times, the first starting 1hour earlier than day 2 – 0700, 0730, 0800 and 0830.
David Kaswarie, Tobias Mews and Jo Williams dictated the earlier pace to cp1 and then David pulled away and opened up a gap. At one point he had gained 15 minutes but after the Tattasberg boulders, the flat running allowed Tobias and Jo to close the gap to 10 minutes at the Orange River and below 5 minutes at the finish line. David finished in 4:08 and Tobias and Jo 4:10. David must really be kicking himself with his error on day 1, he would now be leading the race…
Elisabet Barnes found her legs today and after the run she said, “I had a great day today, I was worried about the boulders but I loved the section and once we got into the final 15km i could run, I love to run and it was great to open up my stride and gain some time!”
Linda Doke by contrast had a less successful day, “There was too much running today, I prefer the more technical stuff.” Linda lost time to Elisabet Barnes but her 2nd place is still secure.
In the men’s race, Tobias Mews still holds a convincing lead as does Jo Williams in the ladies race.
Tomorrow, the runners go ‘transfrontier’ and cross into Namibia and the Fish River Canyon.
A chilly night welcomed a beautiful clear morning and as the sun book the horizon, the ambiance in camp glowed with the sun. Starting in 4 specific groups based on finishing times from day one, the 43 runners departed at 0800, 0830. 0900 or 0930.
It was a game of cat and mouse as the fast runners pursued those in front. David Kaswarie who had received a 1 hour time penalty on day 1 pushed hard, nobody a little perturbed with his demotion… he would be leading the race otherwise.
Tobias Mews and Jo Williams however, hardly let David out of sight and made sure that he was within eye view for most of the day.
Linda Doke in the ladies race ran a controlled race and paced herself for a consistent ladies 2nd place once again and 7th on the stage.
Elisabet Barnes who had a tough day 1 placed 3rd on the stage maintaining her overall 3rd position, however, it was touch and go during the night and the morning if she would start day 2 – her multiple falls on day 1 had left her bruised but more importantly, she may well have a very serious sprain to the left hand.
The medics did a good job with the application of supportive taping but Elisabet was strongly advised, “No racing and whatever you do, do not fall!”
Post race, Elisabet commented, “I had a good day today but I didn’t push the pace. When I could run, I did and I loved it. On the more technical sections, of which there are many, I eased back and relaxed – a fall today and my race would be over!”
Stephen Cunliffe after a great day 1 fell in the boulders and unfortunately badly sprained his ankle today after running with Tobias and Jo, he finished in 6th place but he had some real disappointment and hopes he will be able to run tomorrow.
“I was running with Tobias and Jo, we were taking it in turns to lead the way and navigate. I turned around at one point and took my eyes off the trail, a big mistake as my ankle just twisted.”
The stage, as one would expect of this region, was a stunner. Easy early running eased everyone into the stage. A gradual climb on good paths, followed by a descent was the prelude to more technical running and the feared river bed that was littered with boulders. This section provided a gateway to the final 4-5km of easy running to the line.
In general terms, day 2 had considerably less navigation problems as all the runners are finally getting a feel for the map and gps units. However, there were a coupe of real errors that added some considerable time to one or two runners days.
Tomorrow, the runners will face the incredible Tattasberg Boulders and they will then finish the day on the banks of the Orange River with a stunning camp 3.
Tobias Mews, who is leading the men’s race commented on his day, “People talk about the loneliness of the long distance runner, but the Richtersveld is to be shared. Mutual gasps of wonder should be appreciated with others, it’s lovely to make friends as we run and in Jo I have found a bond -it’s great to run with someone else and share the journey.”
I am fortunate to travel to many races and work as a photographer and journalist. In 2015, I traveled to South Africa with Nikki Kimball and Olympic rower, James Cracknell for the Richtersveld Wildrun.
It was an incredible experience and I have to say, a highlight of my year. I recently wrote in an online article for AVAUNT Magazine (HERE):
“The simple act of running, placing one foot in-front of the other as a method of transport takes us back to our roots, our basic instincts. In search of a place to sleep, to hunt for food; it is about being in the wild, surviving and fulfilling a primal need.”
In 2016, the race goes one step further and becomes ‘Transfrontier.’ The race will now pass over the Orange River and in to Namibia.
After two years the Richtersveld Wildrun™ has become known as one of the toughest, most scenic and unique trail running stage race events on the South African trail running calendar. In 2016 however, this iconic event takes on a new shape to become the first cross-border trail running event in the world; extending to a linear 200km, five day crossing from South Africa to Namibia through the heart of the /Ai/Ais-Richtersveld Transfrontier Park.
“We are absolutely thrilled to have unlocked a truly unique opportunity to experience both sides of such a unique and powerful place – and to finish a long day at a natural hot springs in the middle of the wilderness is unbelievable!”said Owen Middleton, MD of Wildrunner, the events company behind the Wildrun™ events.
The new route will maintain the best of the first three days of the original edition, including the Vyf Susters, Hellskloof Pass, Armmanshoek, the Tswayisberge, Springbokvlakte and the iconic Tatasberg boulders. On day 4, the route will veer of its original course and cross the Orange River at De Hoop into Namibia and the untouched southern section of the Fish River Canyon. This 50km day will take runners into a wilderness that is completely inaccessible by vehicle and rich in wildlife such as Hartmann’s mountain zebra, kudu, gemsbok, springbok, Namibian wild horses and giraffe.
After a long, tough day, runners will spend the evening in the canyon at a natural hot spring, before taking on the final day of roughly 25km to finish at the /Ai-/Ais Hot Springs Resort and wrap up a powerful and truly unique experience.
Race dates are 13-17 June 2016 and entries open midday October 21st
Roland Vorwerk, marketing manager of Boundless Southern Africa, one of the driving forces behind the success of the event, said they are very happy to support this new cross-border trail running event.
“This new route contains even more highlights than the original Richtersveld Wildrun™, and promises to give participants a challenging but spectacular trail running experience.”
If you need inspiration, check out the film from 2015 below.
The final day of the 2015 Richtersveld Wildrun concluded today with a course record day for Thabang Madiba and Katya Soggot.
It was a tough final day with technical trail, tough climbs, technical descents and amazing views.
James Cracknell was a no start to day 4, his swollen ankle far too painful to run on. James had handled the previous days mountains in his stride but the flatter 10km of the course was just too much. Reduced to a walk he contemplated undertaking the final day but during the night the pain continued and ultimately he made the correct call. At 38.3km it was a challenging last day that started with a long and steady climb over the first 17.5km to Akkedis Pass and then the fun started. Technical trail, ridge running, single track, slip sliding descents and incredible crystal fields would lead the runners once again to the Orange River and the finish in Sendlingsdrif. For many, it was a day of running together, overall classifications wouldn’t change and in the spirit of running for fun, the whole field embraced the last day and enjoyed it. However, one person decided that a course record was possible.
Thabang arrived at the technical ridges at Halfmens Ridge running like a man possessed, shifting from left foot to right foot he made the terrain look easy. He was on a mission and he did it. A final day course record confirmed his incredible skill and ability on this tough, challenging and incredibly beautiful course. Katya Soggot was once again crowned ladies champ and Nikki Kimball secured 2nd place ahead of Karoline Hanks.
Today the Wildrun lived up to expectations and really did become a wild run! The weather cleared, the winds dropped and the rain disappeared and we were all treated to a very special South African day.
Today’s course was special!
Notably, the Tatasberg Mountain is one of the most impressive sections of ‘trail’ I have ever witnessed. I use the term trail very loosely as it was a combination of scrambling and boulder hopping, not only on the way up but down. It was an intimidating section for some. A fear of heights not recommended. However, in pain, fear or discomfort on the climb was rewarded with incredible views. It was stunning!
Racing started at 0800 with separate waves; 0800, 0830, 0900 and 0930; slower runners starting first and faster runners in the last wave as per the previous day. Early running was relatively easy but the views were stunning. Particularly as early morning cloud cleared.
By the time the runners reached the climb of Tatasberg at approximately 16km, Thabang and all the usual suspects had pretty much caught all the early starters with the exception of 3 people.
Thabang made the boulders look easy as he hopped from one to the next. The other runners used a little more caution and a natural gap opened. Katya Soggot and Dayle Wheeler closely followed James Cracknell as he pursued Thabang, occasionally helping each across the larger boulders. Nikki Kimball trailed a little but only by minutes. At the summit the boulders started to clear providing the occasional opportunity to run.
The bottom of the climb opened up to a wide plateau and then a clear zigzag trail lead to the lush Orange River and across the water, Namibia. Lush green vegetation populated the left and right banks. It was a stunning contrast to what had come before. Running along the river banks, the sound of flowing water, birds and the occasional baboon made this day, arguably the best one yet.
Camp was located next to the river and of course, a braai was prepared for the arriving runners. Thabang Madiba arrived first (once again) closely followed by Katya Soggot, Dayle Wheeler, Karoline Hanks, Nikki Kimball and Filippo Faralla. But today really wasn’t about the racing, it was the course that was the hero. It was the Richtersveld National Park that had completely blown the minds of every runner and every runner on the Richtersveld Wildrun race.
James Cracknell had a tough day, his groin strain and twisted ankle from the previous day reducing him to a frustrating walk. He is currently unsure if day 3 is possible for him. He’s a stubborn and committed competitor and after travelling all this way, once has to think that he will fight his way through the last day even if it is slowly!
Thabang Madiba 3:24:03
Dayle Wheeler 3:32:31
Katya Soggot (1st lady) 3:32:31
Nikki Kimball (2nd lady) 3:49:10
Filippo Faralla (3rd man) 4:04:10
Karoline Hanks 4:04:10
Nikki Kimball has now moved up into 2nd overall, 10 minutes ahead of Karolin Hanks.