On Saturday the 21st of October, the town of Harrismith will once again be abuzz with excitement for the 95th running of the annual Sound Harmonics Harrismith Mountain Race.
Although only 15km, the race has been named one of the toughest running events in the country, and boasts some of the biggest names having taken part, including the likes of Bruce Fordyce and Wally Hayward. In keeping with the growing endurance culture in South Africa, the race will now offer a 30km Sound Harmonics Mountain Trail Run for those wishing to push their boundaries.
The race was started in 1904 after a climb by Major AE Belcher from the Old Harrismith Club to the top of Old Man’s Pass in 58min, and was run by others several times after the Anglo Boer War when Major Belcher went back to Britain. When the major returned to Harrismith in 1922, the race was started up again with the prize being a case of Whiskey for the runner who could run up Platberg Mountain from the club via the Zig-Zag pass in less than an hour. In 1927, Major Belcher upped the prize to a floating trophy for the first athlete to reach the top and the race became known as the Belcher Cup.
What started out as a local race, has become one of the most well-known and well-attended mountain races in the country with the modern adapted course. In 1950 famous South African runner Wally Hayward participated in the race and commented at the end – “Never again – it’s the toughest obstacle race in the world!”
The current record for the race was set in 2000 by Michael Maya for the men in 1hr03min08seconds and in 2016 by Ntebaleng Letsela for the ladies in 1hr23min23seconds. Due to the change in venue for the race start/ finish, new record times will need to be set on the course this year!
The 30km trail run will start at 8am from the Harrismith Primary School and the 15km route will then start 2hours later at 10am. The medals and trophies to be handed out for the 30km Sound Harmonics Trail Run have been inspired by the local bird life in Platberg Nature Reserve and will change each year, encouraging runners to come back each year to collect a new medal. This year’s theme is the Ostrich.
The first 200 race entries for the 15km Sound Harmonics Mountain Race and the first 50 entrants for the 30km Sound Harmonics Mountain Trail Run will receive goodie bags.
For more information or to enter this race please visit http://harrismithmarathonclub.co.za/harrismith-mountain-race/#1490852225064-4dd8658b-a14e.