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Dicing the OTTER and now the Dassie

The annual Otter African Trail Run presented by Hi-Tec and GU, like its counterpart The Otter hike attract folk from all over the globe. This year’s event is no exception with a posse of international athletes flying in to challenge the fourth running of world famous hiking trail. Jetting in from France is title contender Sebastian Chaigneau as well as Anton Krupicka from the United States who are both out to dethrone the first Otter winner Ian Don Wauchope who ripped up the course in 2009, Don Wauchope is making a significant comeback this year and out to prove his capability of a win again. Krissy Moehl will also be representing the USA and set to fly the “Stars and Stripes” against South African favourite Landie Greyling. Victor Gugushe of Plett and Melikhaya Msizi from Knysna, are out to prove that the Garden Route is ready to take on the world ranked athletes. The 2012 event will also be the first time the run will be traversed from Natures Valley to Storms River Mouth. The standard hiking direction and Otter Trail runs to date have followed the natural Storms River to Natures Valley direction.
Organisers, Magnetic South, and members of the MCSA Mountain Rescue have to date completed a number of SANParks sanctioned scouting runs on the 2012 RETTO route as it has been affectionately referred to this year. These ongoing scouting runs, under varying conditions, have allowed both the safety and field teams the opportunity to build up a file of the many inherent dangers of running a route that was designed to flow the opposite way. Like the Comrades Marathon, which is unquestionably South Africa’s ultimate endurance road running marathon, the Otter African Trail Run has become the nation’s ultimate Trail Run and has now adopted the same alternate course direction each year which adds an extra dimension to an athlete’s preparation and training program. This bi-directional challenge also allows for two records to be established on this relentlessly tough run.
In addition to creating a fully comprehensive safety and management plan that has simulated every condition the participants are likely to encounter on their 42km journey on the Otter, Magnetic South in conjunction with MCSA Mountain Rescue have introduced an Otter specific, survival course, for key members of the field team that are made up of specially selected SANParks and Magnetic South staff. This vitally important training course will be done under the instruction of a highly expereinced ex Royal Airforce and British SAS Survival Instructor to ensure our teams are able to manage both themselves and every participant in the many remote and often exposed sections of this spectacular 5 day hiking trail, that are difficult to get to.
In a joint venture with SANparks, and Tsitsikamma based Untouched Adventures, Magnetic South have also introduced the Dassie Run for those who are very keen to get a feeling for what the Otter is all about but are not yet ready to take on the distance. The 10km Dassie route takes in all the splendour and pristine environment of the Tsitsikamma Coast. With its convenient start and finish all happening within the SANParks Storms River Mouth Rest Camp, the Dassie participants are in for a hugely memorable day as they will also finish their race on the same course the Otter Runners will complete their own challenge. The Dassie starts at 07h30 on Saturday 13 October with the leading pack of the Otter “Retto Route” runners due to arrive from 10h30 onwards on the same final kilometre as the Dassie Run. With great prizes and the chance to see the world’s top trail runners in action ENTER NOW at www.theotter.co.za.