About / Otter Grail of Trail

Two Otter Events

The Otter African Trail event takes place annually and runs in the opposite direction each year. The Otter Edition traverses East to West starting in Storms River and finishing in Natures Valley. With the Retto Edition Running West to East, from Natures Valley to Storms River.

The 42km route features rugged Indian Ocean coastline trails, indigenous forests, river crossings, spectacular scenery and 7,000 steps on average. Every year the Otter African Trail Run hosts two cut-off time graded events:

  • Otter - Challenge - Fearsome 11hr cut-off
  • Otter - Race - Extreme 9hr cut-off

Grail of Trail

The Otter Green principle is to ensure that the near-pristine environment is better for you having participated.


Otter environmental principles

To ensure that the environment is better for you having participated in this event.

Awareness campaign

  • Environmental awareness promoted in all event competitor and media communication.
  • Institution of environmental race rules.
  • Banning of non-biodegradable detergents for ablutions.
  • Use and promotion of environmentally friendly products.
  • Utilisation of water efficient mobile ablution units.
  • Quantification of water use for future reduction plans.

Management of hydro footprint

  • Waste management unit for separation of recyclables.
  • Quantification of waste generation for future reduction plans.

Green Charities

  • Nature’s Valley Trust. The mission of the Nature’s Valley Trust is “To maintain the long-term environmental integrity of Nature’s Valley and surrounds by becoming proactively involved in issues that impact on the future of the area”.

The environmental impact of trail running

Trail runners do not have a significant difference in impact on the environment than hikers. Because trail runners move considerably faster through an area, the impact per person per unit of time on a particular area is possibly less than that of hikers. The actual erosive impact of running on a trail does not differ significantly from hiking on the trail. Littering is strictly forbidden and against trail running ethos and rules.

An environmental officer will oversee the camp sites to ensure proper recycling.

Alien invasive plant control station

South African National Parks and Magnetic South have decided to take a precautionary and proactive approach by implementing an alien invasive plant control station. This station is (as far as could be established) a first in South Africa and provides the opportunity to reduce the possibility of alien invasive plant seeds being dispersed by competitors. As part of the registration process, all competitors will be required to bring along their running shoes to have them vacuumed and the soles sponged with a biodegradable environmentally friendly disinfectant. At the end of the race, the plan is to assess whether the control station did in fact have a positive impact.

Although the introduction of alien invasive species into South Africa was often intentional for a variety of reasons - from commercial exploitation through to ornamental display - the dispersal of alien invasive species can also be totally unintentional. There is a growing recognition that recreational activities such as hiking, horseback riding, cycling and trail running may have negative ecological impacts on ecosystems, plants and wildlife through increased erosion, disturbance (noise and motion), pollution, trampling and, more recently, the spread of alien invasive plants species.

There are an estimated 27,000 indigenous and a further 9,000 foreign plant species in South Africa. Of these 9,000 exotic, or alien introductions, some 348 have been identified as ecologically damaging invader plants.

Due to their adaptability and generally vigorous growth rates, invasive alien species have the ability to easily invade a wide range of ecological niches thereby threatening our own rich biodiversity by replacing indigenous and endemic vegetation. Unfortunately, as the invaders start to out-compete the indigenous plants, a ripple effect begins with knock-on impacts for those insect species dependent on the indigenous plants and the ultimate loss of birds, reptiles and mammals that feed on those insects.

Checking shoes for plant seeds prior to a run may seem trivial, but who would want to be an unintentional means for alien species dispersal? As guests within the environment, especially protected areas, all recreational users are encouraged to try to minimise their impacts as much as possible.

For more information on alien invasive plants in South Africa, go to the following websites:

Compulsory Kit

Compulsory kit

Otter Bib or Shirt

Bibs are provided at registration and are compulsory to be worn on the outside of your gear at any stage of the trail or prologue. If you wish to wear a rain jacket (or similar) over the shirt then an Otter bib must be worn on the outside.

Otter Shirts

Branded shirts may be purchased to wear in addition to the Otter bib. The Otter shirt is a technical garment and can be ordered in the Otter shop. Shirts will be personalized with your race number.

Personal Gear Sponsors

Sponsored athletes have the option to include a sponsor logo on their Otter shirt. Logos must be submitted to the race office in 1-colour in a vector file (eps, pdf, ai)

In Extreme Circumstances

Kit is not worn and carried just to look the part (although we agree, trail running kit is pretty cool), it is to keep you safe and could, in extreme circumstances, save your life. This is why we are so serious about compulsory kit and why we use weather condition forecasts (see below) to determine the kit items required to be carried by all participants.

Compulsory kit on the day

The race director will announce the predicted weather level 12 & 2 hours before the start.

Compulsory Kit - Level 1

Fine, mild, hot but dry


Recommended Kit - Level 1

Compulsory Kit - Level 2

Cool and/or wet


Recommended Kit - Level 2

Compulsory Kit - Level 3

Cold, wet and/or windy


Recommended Kit - Level 3

Compulsory Kit - Level 4

Very cold, and/or heavy rain


If conditions higher than Level 3 are predicted all kit required for Level 3 is compulsory.

In this case the official race will not take place, parts of the course will be rerouted & time delays should be expected.

Cancelled Event - Level 5

High winds, flooding and/or violent storm conditions with dangerously high seas.

Seven / Medals

7 time-based medal categories

Medal Finisher Categories

Otter - Race Athletes

7 Medal Categories:
- Sub 4:00hrs
- Sub 4:30hrs
- Sub 5:00hrs
- Sub 6:00hrs
- Sub 7:00hrs
- Sub 8:00hrs 
- Otter in a Day will be given to the under 9:00hrs finishers.

Otter - Challenge Athletes

2 Medal Categories:
- Sub 8:00hrs
- Otter in a Day

All finishers will receive their medals at the awards ceremony for each event.

Prize Money

Men and Women Race

Prize money value per gender:

1st - R50,000
2nd - R25,000
3rd - R10,000

Volunteer program

Be part of the Otter African Trail Run and mingle amongst the world’s best trail runners while being part of the world’s best event team.

Volunteer candidates are required to apply using an online application form. The application process will remain open with the first round of selections taking place as early as January for the events that take place in October.

There is only a limited amount of volunteer positions available.


Magnetic South Events stand for high quality sporting events and this high standard can only be achieved with an excellent team. Our volunteers will be a crucial part of the success of the event and will require a variety of skills that can benefit our event team. Whether you have technical (computer/electronics), administrative or operational skills – there are various positions to be filled at Registration/Race Village and “in the field”.

Most importantly however you will have to be available for the full period of the event (see event dates) as well as for the compulsory staff briefing on the Tuesday evening, 2 days before the event.

  • 18 years of age on the day the race starts.
  • Must have a good command of the English language.
  • South African citizens require a valid identity document.
  • Foreign citizens must be in possession of a valid passport.

Each volunteer receives, among other things:

  • Tented accommodation.
  • Breakfast and dinner with the Magnetic South Event Team.
  • Daily lunch pack.
  • Volunteer t-shirt or similar.
  • Reserved entry for the following year's race.

Cost (NOT) involved

If you are successful with your application and you commit to work as part of the Magnetic South team we believe we are entering a "win-win" situation.

We will benefit from your dedicated work and you will be part of the international World Championship in Trail Running. We will NOT charge you for being a volunteer – HOWEVER you will have to pay a deposit of R2,000 to secure your volunteer spot. This amount will only be fully refunded after the event if you fulfilled your commitment to the satisfaction of your team leader. Should you, for any reason, not be able to attend the event or fulfil your commitment, the deposit will not be refunded.

How the application process works:

Step 1: Candidates complete the online volunteer application form.

Step 2: Wait to hear from the organizers as to whether your application has been successful. First-round confirmation emails will be sent out to successful volunteers by the end of January

Step 3: Once selected, you have 2 weeks to confirm whether you accept to be part of the Magnetic South Team and work at the event.

Step 4: Pay your volunteer REFUNDABLE joining fee within the period communicated in your acceptance email invite. Please note that your place on the program is only guaranteed once payment has been received.