Giant’s Cup is about more than just trail running

Photo - Anthony Grote / Gameplan Media

The annual Giant’s Cup has only been in existence since 2014 and has already established itself as a must-do event for trail runners, but for Race Director Spurgeon Flemington the race, which takes place this year on 19-20 May, is about more than just an outing in the Drakensberg.

Flemington is the brains behind the run, and his desire to provide a top quality event while helping preserve the Giant’s Cup region has created a unique event that satisfies the needs of trail runners while also contributing to the natural heritage of the trails of the route.

“I always thought the five-day Giant’s Cup Hiking Trail would make a fantastic trail run and, after pitching the idea to John Crowson of Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, we obtained permission and the idea became reality in 2014,” said Flemington this week.

“A big part of the Giant’s Cup is really spoiling the runners when they are off the course. A key element of this is keeping the field small and intimate and, ideally, having every runner know each other by the final awards dinner on the Saturday night.”

That spoiling includes some extras that runners at most other events would never expect, such as three nights of hotel accommodation and food, a bespoke hand-sketched panorama of the Berg along the Giant’s Cup Trail and nightly entertainment, as well as the top-level support on the route and a race garment.

But as much as runners appreciate the extras, the main reason for the popularity of the event is the route, and Flemington is aware of the importance of preserving the route and its surrounds.

“Part of the reason it is becoming something of an iconic event on the local trail running scene is because it consists of 100 percent trail and takes place in a World Heritage Site,” said Flemington.

“As the custodian of the World Heritage Site, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife plays the pivotal role in the preservation and conservation of the area.”

“Their support from government is in serious decline and anything that we can do through our events to raise money and awareness for their efforts is a real priority for us. Without Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife there would be no Giant’s Cup trail run.”

That support includes R500 from each entrant which is donated to Ezemvelo with the understanding that the donated funds are ring-fenced and only used on local projects within the Giant’s Cup biosphere.

Further donations are also made to the Endangered Wildlife Trust as well as the local branch of the Honorary Officers.

The two-day run is a spectacular trip through the pristine Maloti Drakensberg Park World Heritage Site. The event starts from the Sani Pass Hotel and the 32km first day of the race incorporates the Gxalingenwa Trail and days one, two and three of the Giant’s Cup Hiking Trail before finishing at Castleburn Farm near Drakensberg Gardens.

The second and final day of the race is a 30km stretch along days four and five of the Giant’s Cup trail and will see the athletes run from Castleburn to the Bushman’s Nek resort.

More information can be found at www.thegiantscup.co.za