#CountryRunner and the Three Cranes

He’s back! Country Life digital editor Ian Macleod has begun his next editorial adventure. This time he will be in Karkloof, KwaZulu-Natal, to run the Three Cranes Challenge.

This is an annual event put on by the Wildlands Conservation Trust, and includes three days of trail running through the beautiful Midlands. As usual, #CountryRunner will take time to experience the best the local countryside has to offer. Chief among his scheduled stops are the decadent Karkloof Safari Spa and a refurbished Granny Mouse Country House. Of course, the usual array of funny signs and country characters should make an appearance too.


Here is a short introduction to each of the three routes, starting with the 32km opening stage on Friday 27 February 2015. You can read more about this superb event on their website: www.wildseries.co.za/three-cranes-challenge

Day 1 – 32km

Route Description:
It’s a brand new start to Day 1! You will start off with a 5-6km run through local farmlands before heading into some misty forests at Karkloof Canopy Tours and Karkloof Nature Reserve. From here, you will have some steep climbing to do to get to the top of the Karkloof escarpment, where you will be able to stretch your legs and enjoy a fairly flat stretch (15km) around the vlei and dams at the top, keeping an eye out for cranes. Once you start descending, you will have some amazing views of the valley and enjoy your descent back to Bushwillow Park. Remember that there is a bit of a sting in the tail, so keep some humour for the last stretch!

Tip of the day: Don’t go out too hard – you’ve got 2 more days!

Country Runner with heel clickeroo on downhill trailDay 2 – 42km

Route Description:
I’m really excited to see what you think of today; it’s totally different from previous years – a lot more climbing on already tender legs!

You will start off by going out the way you came in on Day 1, but only for the first 4km. You will now head towards Mbona Nature Reserve; it’s a really special treat to meander around the dams and perfectly trimmed paths. A steep climb to Mbona will make you appreciate the view even more.

From Mbona, you will head towards Benvie farm, a new addition to 3 Cranes. The farm is known for its amazing garden, scattered with ancient trees from all over the world – enjoy every moment, as it is truly special. You will also find your second water table here. We will allow seconders to access the garden and support runners. This will also be a Time-out Zone for those runners that want to soak up the garden, chill and relax for a bit.

From Benvie farm, you will make your way to Mondi at the top and finish off the day with a great 4km run down to Bushwillow Park.

Tip of the Day: Enjoy the great surroundings of Mbona and Benvie; bring your camera and make use of today’s Time-out Zone at water table 2.

#CountryRunner negotiates a precarious slope on his recent outing at the inaugural Run the Berg trail race.

#CountryRunner negotiates a precarious slope on his recent outing at the inaugural Run the Berg trail race.

Day 3 – 32km

Route Description:
An early start with lots of sleepy runners!

As always, we will start you off on a flat open road so those runners that are still half asleep can wake up before taking on the first hill of the day. You do have a water crossing at about 6km, so it’s probably a good idea to bring some dry socks or take your shoes off. Once over the crossing, you will start with your first climb of the day, then take on a steep and awesome descent through the forest (it will still be dark, so be careful) before you start with a 3km climb to the top – enjoy the sunrise!

From here, you will find yourself meandering on the edge of the forest overlooking the valley until you reach the next big climb, which will take you to the second water table of the day. Here, you can catch your breath and prepare yourself for the climb to Mount Gilboa!

Once you are at the top of Mount Gilboa, you can truly enjoy the view and the last water table before an fantastic run down to the finish! This really is a great track to finish off 3 days of running!

Tip of the day: Make sure you have a good headlight and stay on the route, which is marked with reflective tape, boards, candy tape and route markers.


Three Cranes Challenge website
Click the logo above to learn more.


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