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Running for Wupperthal

While the average person enjoys a good hike or run in nature, there are those who prefer to negotiate their way up and down mountain slopes, including the ones surrounding Stellenbosch. But there are those who also combine these activities, and Pieter Holtzhausen is one of them.

Not your average Joe, he grew up and studied in Stellenbosch, and has explored the local trails and mountain tops for years. He has now decided to take on his biggest challenge yet – to run all the way from Stellenbosch to Wupperthal in an effort to raise funds after the devastating fires of earlier this year. He will hike there from town to town over mountain tops.

“My goal is to be completely self-reliant along the route, with no back-up vehicle, and running mostly on my own,” Holtzhausen says. “I will spend the nights in different towns where I will refuel, get something to eat and repack my day pack.”

To challenge himself further, he also wants to complete (at least for most of the route) the route in his leather vellies from the leather factory in Wupperthal.

“In the end this journey is about creating awareness. The village is still reeling from the massive fire, which destroyed so much of the town. I have always loved the Cederberg and surrounding area, and feel I would love to give back to the town that has given me so much in the past.”

Holtzhausen’s eight-day journey will begin in Stellenbosch, at the Moederkerk in Church Street, at 05:00 on 8 November. He will hike over Bothmaskop and along the ridge line into Jonkershoek, over the Berg River neck and into the Franschhoek Valley. The first leg is 30,4 km, and ends in Franschhoek.

On day 2 he will take on the Hawequa Nature Reserve and run up Cats Trail to the Mont Rochelle Nature Reserve on the top of the pass, taking the trail to Perdekop. Holtzhausen will follow the ridge line to the top of Wemmershoek through the boulder fields into Elandspad. He will stop for the night at the Agter-Tafelberg hut, a total of 22,7km.

On day 3 he will run through the Limietberg Nature Reserve, starting on the tracks through Elandspadkloof to the Du Kloof Lodge, where he will stop to refuel. From here Holtzhausen will make his way to the mountains and ascend via the trails to the Krom River Plateau. He then takes the Limietberg Trail to Bains Kloof and overnight at First Toll. It all covers 30,4 km.

Day 4 will see Holtzhausen run 40,2 km through the Waterval Nature Reserve, starting in Bains Kloof and ending in Tulbagh. The route will take him over the top of Bailey’s Peak and into the reserve. He will spend the night in Tulbagh.

His longest trek will take place on the fifth day, through the Grootwinterhoek area. Holtzhausen’s journey will begin in Tulbagh, where he will take the route through the Old Roodezand Pass to where the Vier-En-Twintig River exits the mountains. There he will ascend to the Olifants River plateau along the ridge lines into the Groot Winterhoek Reserve, ending the 58 km run at Beaverlac, where he’ll overnight.

On his 6th day, Holtzhausen will begin at Beaverlac, following a route into the Olifants River Valley, across farms and gravel tracks and sections of tar to reach Citrusdal. An easier stroll of only 40,5 km. Day 7 will be spent trekking through the Cederberg Wilderness Area, starting in Citrusdal following the Boskloof ascent into the Cederberg. Holtzhausen will end the 32,8 km route at Krom River.

His eight-day journey will end in a 38,2 km run from Cederberg to Wupperthal, across Gabriel’s Pass passing the villages of Langkloof and Eselbank. He will end his run on the steps of the Moravian church on 15 November.

Holtzhausen is immensely excited about his odyssey, having scouted most of the routes and mountain ridges over the years. “Most of the trails will take me through nature reserves and I had to get special permission from CapeNature. They also gave me a permit to film in the reserves.” He also had to get permission from all the farmers en route to cross their land.

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