FAIRVIEW SPARKLES AT TANKWA TRAIL

By Katja Soggot.

When Fairview’s goat father, Donald, asked me if I had the patience to team up with him ‘to shuffle’ the three-day Tankwa Trail, a flood of memories from last year’s event made me buzz with excitement. The promise of a shuffle would mean much more time taking in the glories of the Koue Bokkeveld.

Reliving the pleasures began with the beautiful drive to the venue, Kaleo Manor, high above the Ceres Valley (about 2 hours from Cape Town). The elegant country estate is a favourite spot for weddings, a haven of nature and serenity, far from any hustle and bustle. The runners’ tents are sheltered amid acorn trees, alongside an expansive slope of lawn.

The leading contenders, including Katja Soggot, of the 2017 Tankwa Trail, traverse a field of harvested alfalfa, in the early kilometres of Stage 3. Photo by Oakpics.com.

The leading contenders, including Katja Soggot, of the 2017 Tankwa Trail, traverse a field of harvested alfalfa, in the early kilometres of Stage 3. Photo by Oakpics.com.

I’ve been fortunate to participate in several Dryland Event Management’s trail run events, the last two years as a very proud brand ambassador for Fairview Estate, longstanding sponsor of Dryland’s MTB and trail events. When Donald and I went to register as Team Fairview Sparkles, so began a fantastic reception from the Drylands crew, a family of familiar, happy faces, eager to please. Happy hour was 24/7.

The Tankwa Trail follows directly after Dryland’s hugely successful Momentum Health Tankwa Trek, presented by Biogen, mountain bike stage race at Kaleo. The hosting is masterful. Every wish is anticipated and catered for, with the highest quality. The vibey atmosphere is fueled by the ever popular ‘head of state’ event MC, Karel Bezuidenhoud, in synergy with the fabulous Johan Brooks DJ’ng. A niche group of under 100 runners made for an intimate gathering of like minded outdoor seeking souls.

Everyone raves about the Dryland catering, especially at the Tankwa Trail.

Everyone raves about the Dryland catering, especially at the Tankwa Trail.

The ‘Op Die Berg’ caterers are exceptional. I am fussy, and Telna and her mother Aletta recognised me (and my vegetarian preferences) from last year. They implored me to let them make me any vegetarian dish I wanted! I assured them the spread at every lunch and dinner provided amply, but happily accepted a private supply of boiled eggs throughout the event.

After an evening settling into this countryside oasis of fun and friendliness, we awoke early for breakfast and a sunrise start to the first day’s run. Within a few kms I realised I had lost my water bottle. But there is a medic or photographer almost every kilometre, and a coordinated effort saw the support team retrieve and reunite me with my bottle later in the day.

It was wonderful to once again weave through the fairy-tale orchards and ancient landscape, sharing the pleasure with Donald at a slow and steady pace. The fruit is ripe, with plenty of bounty on the ground.

Running through the apple orchards.

Running through the apple orchards.

The sun picked up force, so imagine the pleasure of runners reaching the abundantly stocked water stations, greeted with cheers and poured water with ice cubes. It was a long and rewarding morning on our feet. Recovery time began at the finish line with an ice cold tin of Biogen sparkling electrolite and the welcome of the famous Dryland ‘Chill Zone’ with its buffet of yummies.

After a shower and lunch, I spent the afternoons sauntering in and out of the cool palatial manor, with its endless supply of free tea and coffee and delectables, and reading and snoozing under the oak trees. Some people had brought mountain bikes, others dipped into the ravine of blue water 500 metres away, and many took advantage of the nationally renowned EPT sports massage therapists on site.

The exclusive field of trail runners assembled before lunch and prize giving on Sunday morning for a 2017 Tankwa Trail group photo. Photo by Oakpics.com.

The exclusive field of trail runners assembled before lunch and prize giving on Sunday morning for a 2017 Tankwa Trail group photo. Photo by Oakpics.com.

Day 2 was the longest (35km) and toughest stage, exploring the rugged slopes of the Witzenberg Valley. Thankfully the sun was more reserved. Day 3 is a blast – 23km of playing amid the sandstone outcrops of the Gydoberg foothills. With Donald’s blessing, I roamed free for most of the day’s course, including taking a dip in a dam. But I was once again by his side to cross the finish line sparkling together.

As Donald put it perfectly in his prize giving speech, the event is all about passion and dedication, from everyone involved.

The Tankwa Trail featured both solo and team categories. More runners decided to pair up in the mixed category as spouses, partners and friends, like Donald Mouton and Katja Soggot did, than in any other category. Photo by Oakpics.com.

the “Goat Father” Donald Mouton and the author Katja Soggot. Photo by Oakpics.com.

If you enjoyed the delicious Fairview Wine and Cheese at the Tankwa Trail and want to find out more about their products visit www.fairview.co.za.  

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