Spectacular views & relaxed vibes at the heart of Giant’s Cup

Photo - Anthony Grote / Gameplan Media

This year’s fifth edition of The Giant’s Cup will offer enthusiastic trail runners spectacular routes and views as they take on the 62km challenge of running through the Southern Drakensberg for two days from 18-19 May.

The two-day event takes place along the iconic Giant’s Cup hiking trail which includes a number of the major peaks of the Southern Drakensberg, and the relaxed nature of the Giant’s Cup makes it accessible and lends itself to being a race for those that are everyday trail runners.

“The Giant’s Cup is definitely not focussed on the elites,” Running Man Adventure’s Spurgeon Flemington said. “As entries are limited to 100 we are trying to attract the kind of runner who is ready to immerse themselves in the three day experience and bond with the trail and their fellow band of runners.

“The aim at every Giant’s Cup is for all the runners to be on first name terms by the Saturday afternoon cheese and wine.”

The route that runners take is very similar to that of the Giant’s Cup Uncut, a race that forms part of the Ultra-Trail® Drakensberg, bit there are a number of stand out differences between the two events.

“Although we use the same trail it is used in different segments and distances. At the UTD we do the entire 62km Giant’s Cup hiking trail in one go at Giant’s Cup we divide this into two days of 32km and 30km.

“However, the main difference between UTD and Giant’s Cup is that Giant’s Cup really is a ‘boutique luxury’ type trail experience.

“Runners spend three days in the hotels along the route, all meals are in the hotels and they receive a goodie bag second to none on the Trail scene that includes, amongst other things, multiple North Face garments.

“While the running part of Giant’s Cup is still Pure Mountain Trail we try to make the experience off the trail at Giant’s Cup as special as possible as well,” Flemington added.

The route is by no means a walk in the park with some tough sections throughout, but with the event trying to steer clear of an elite feel runners will be able to take their time and enjoy the beautiful views that surround them.

Understanding the route and how to go about the two days of running will be crucial, Flemington has some advice for runners as they prepare for the event in two weeks’ time.

“As most of the runners at Giant’s Cup are non-elites the toughest part of Giant’s Cup are the two big climbs that precede the final descent on each day.”

The climbs that he eludes to are the climb up to Crane Tarn (1969m) on day one before the run down the hill to the finish at Castleburn.

On day two the final climb is up to the saddle in front of Langalibalele Peak (2158m) before the final descent down to the finish at Bushman’s Nek Hotel.

“Start conservatively and finish comfortably. The best way to ensure this is to stop frequently and enjoy the views and the splendour of the World Heritage Site through which they are running,” Flemington explained.