Each year in late spring, the Cape clawless otters, which inhabit the Tsitsikamma National Park and gave their name to South Africa’s best-known hiking trail, have to adjust to the slow-moving hominids, who regularly walk the 42km trail between Storm’s River and Nature’s Valley over five days, suddenly speed over the trail in less than a morning.
Next year, these curious land and sea mammals might find the speed adjustment even more profound, as there is every likelihood that many of the world’s leading international trail athletes will take part in the 10th Otter African Trail Race.
While details are still under wraps, there is every chance that the “Grail of Trail”, as the “Otter” has become known, will host the climax of an international series of trail races over the marathon distance, with as many as 20 or more international stars lining up against South Africa’s leading athletes.
If plans come to fruition, this would be a first for South African trail racing – the IAAF’s latest recognised athletics discipline.
While races, such as the Otter and Ultra Trail Cape Town, have attracted international stars in recent years, never before has South Africa hosted what could be regarded as an international championship event.