The WildSeries Three Cranes Challenge

22nd - 24th February 2019

Course Details

Thursday, 21 February:

  • 15:00 pm – Registration Opens
  • 17:00 pm – Dinner available
  • 18:00 pm – Race Briefing

Friday, 22 February:

  • 05: 00 am – Breakfast available
  • 06:00 am – Race Starts
  • 08:00 am – Extended Canopy Tour (extra activity)
  • 11:00 am – Lunch available
  • 12:00 pm – Extended Canopy Tour (extra activity)
  • 17:00 pm – Dinner available
  • 19:00 pm – Family Night Walk (extra activity – no charge)

Saturday, 23 February:

  • 05:00 am – Breakfast available
  • 06:00 am – Race Starts
  • 09:00 am – Extended Canopy Tour (extra activity)
  • 11:00 am – Lunch available
  • 03:00 pm – Guided Forest Walk (extra activity)
  • 05:00 pm – Dinner available

Sunday, 24 February:

  • 04:00 am – Tea and Rusks
  • 04:30 am – Race Start
  • 06:30 am – Forest Chapel Retreat Walk (extra – no charge)
  • 07:00 am – Breakfast
  • 09:30 am – Prize Giving

*Please note: To book extra activities, contact John Roff at 083 662 2306 or visit his website by clicking HERE.

Day 1 starts with a steep climb out the back of Bushwillow on a trail that makes its way through the indigenous forest before breaking out into the grassland at the base of Mount Gilboa in the heart of the Karkloof Range. The trail then explores parts of the Karkloof Nature Reserve in a spectacular and pristine grassland environment. This is when runners have their best chance at seeing any, or all, of the three different crane species found in the area.

The course then descends back through the forest, past Rockwood, and through to the Karkloof Canopy Tour. Here runners are treated to some time off the clock where they can choose to experience two of the zip-lines. 

There are only 6km to go after the canopy tour, but the legs are feeling it and the farm terrain does ask a few final questions.

Course Route and Profile:

KZNTR Three Cranes Day 1 Route MapKZNTR Three Cranes Day 1 Elevation Profile

Day 2 is traditionally the long day of the race measuring just over 40km. But in the spirit of opening the race up, we have added a shorter 25km option.

Both courses will head out together through the UCL pine plantations. A steep climb after 10km takes the courses into Mbona Private Nature Reserve, the first highlight of the day. Forest and grassland singletrack wind through the reserve, and the longer and shorter courses will split at one of the Mbona Dams around the 15km mark. 

The longer course then heads towards the second highlight of the day – Benvie. These magical gardens allow for another “time-out” zone and some tea in the stunning surrounds. 

The long and tough climb out of Benvie is challenging, but the final few kilometers are gentle if it’s not too hot!

The shorter course having broken away at Mbona climbs initially, but then descends all the way back down to the race village at Bushwillow.

Introducing the new 25km Day 2 option in 2019. There is no price difference for this option, but you may “upgrade” or “downgrade” at any time. Even leaving the decision until you are out on course and at the split!

40km Course Route and Profile:

25km Course Route and Profile:

The final leg of the Challenge starts at 4.30am in the dark! Its a little tough to get out of bed and going, but once you are warm and the blood starts to flow around the legs, most runners find it exhilarating. 

This is the shortest stage of the challenge, but it still involves climbing to the highest point of the race at the top of Mt. Gilboa.

The final 10km in from this highest point is mostly downhill and fast if you are willing to let go and run free. It does get quite interesting when it rains and becomes muddy!

The final brunch and prize giving and celebration take place around 9.30 am.

Course Route and Profile:

KZNTR Three Cranes Day 3 Route MapKZNTR Three Cranes Day 3 Elevation Profile

All compulsory must be carried at all times and random equipment checks may be carried out. Compulsory equipment includes:

  • 2L Hydration Pack
  • Rain Jacket
  • Thermal Layer
  • Gloves
  • Buff or Beanie
  • Space Blanket
  • Small Medical Kit

Join the Waiting List

Meals and Accommodation Only

Stage Race
with shorter distance

Family Friendly

Having worked together for the past four years, the WILDTRUST and KZN Trail Running is thrilled to be relaunching the WILDSERIES 2019, starting with the Three Cranes Challenge 2019.

It is no longer possible to host these events in a “business-as-usual” mindset. With changing economic times, it has been necessary to rethink the format of these events to keep them viable and relevant.

It is also no-longer feasible for humanity to continue in a business-as-usual fashion in the way we consume everything around us and the original vision for the WILDSERIES is critical – “to expose the public to some of our unexplored, incredible natural heritage, as well as raising vital funds for conservation”. We need to start doing things differently and as a team, we hope that the event will impact the trail community, open eyes to new ways of doing things and capture imaginations.

With all of this in mind, we will be bringing an intimate, craft feels to the race village. We don’t want these events to be something that takes participants away from their families (unless you need some “me-time”), rather than can be experienced together. You can expect locally sourced, gourmet food and beverage options as well as opportunities throughout the weekend to soak up the heart and soul of the Karkloof Valley, through the eyes of the locals who know it best.

More accessible route options will also be available, which will allow more people the opportunity to experience the Three Cranes Challenge, the Karkloof Valley and get a taste for staged trail events. 

The beautiful Karkloof valley is the breeding ground of South Africa’s endangered Cranes. Sadly, all three of South Africa’s Crane species are in decline due to man’s relentless exploitation of their delicate habitat. By running the Three Cranes Challenge you will also assist these beautiful birds.


Discounted RUNNERS ONLY package entries available until Friday 5th October at 12 noon.

The Early Bird is applicable to runners entry only in a bid to encourage more flexibility around how entry packages are put together.


2019 Sees the introduction of the 2-day option. This will take place on the Saturday and Sunday. Entrants can choose either the 40km or 25km on Saturday (this decision can be made at any time, even once you are out on course). Sunday is 23km.


Entrants can opt for either the fully inclusive full race package, OR they can put together their own race package to suit their individual requirements. Individual components do not necessarily need to be purchased at the same time. For example, if you wish to take advantage of the Early Bird or Grand Slam runners entry early on, you can then add accommodation at a later stage.



Take the Howick North / Tweedie offramp off the N3 and turn towards Howick. Continue straight on Main Road and at the 4th set of traffic lights (SupaQuick on the corner), turn left onto the Karkloof Road.

Travel for approx. 22km (the last 1.3km is dirt) and turn left to Bushwillow Park (turn signposted).

GPS Co-ordinates: 29°19.174′ S 30°18.303′ E 

*Note: please ensure that you follow the written directions as GPS navigation will take you via indirect farm roads.

In Association With

All the gear you’ll need for your next trail expedition. Available online from Trail Shed.