“What people are desperate for, is some fun. Let’s give it to them.” Steve Black’s words late last year prompted the spontaneous organisation of the Khotso Summer Trail ‘n Tube just before Christmas. On what was quite possibly, and very fortunately, the only day in December that it did not rain in Underberg, 130 people turned up to hustle their way along kilometres of specially marked tracks on Khotso farm leading down to the Umzimkhulu where they were issued with an inflated tractor tube and sent floating and floundering 1,5km down the flowing river. Exiting the refreshing water and back into the 30C heat, they still had 1,5km to run back past bemused spectators at The Old Hatchery and along the trail past the many horses to the finish at the campground.
The breathtaking 16km route took runners up to a banner on the highest point on the farm with spectacular 360-degree views of the Drakensberg mountains and surrounding farmlands, a treat for both locals and visitors. PMB couple Martin and Jeannie Dreyer both took first place in their respective fields with times of 1hr27min and 1hr31 min with Jeannie third overall, just behind second-place Zoog Haynes. The 6km race was dominated by the youngsters, with 16yr old local Scott Venniker flying through the finish in 36min58sec, and, showing true sportsmanship, waiting to welcome in and congratulate his friend and rival Farran Flemington. The first female, 14yr old Jade Howarth was just 35 seconds behind Scott, also taking third place overall.
“That was, hands down, THE best event I have ever done.” Said one finisher, a regular visitor to the region, grinning widely. “Please do it again next year!” “It was so good to see folk out again, active and having such a blast.” Said race organiser and neighbour of Steve, Graham Bird. “We arrange trail events for a living and obviously the C-word cleared everybody’s race calendar last year. As we were in Level 1 restrictions in December, it was relatively easy to arrange the run with modifications to allow everyone to look after their own health and be respectful of personal space. “Of course, as a Khotso event, friends at Castleburn and Gooderson Drakensberg Gardens generously donated prize vouchers, friends posted and promoted the posters, friends volunteered their time to help out, other friends benefitted from selling things and yet more friends supported the run. It’s obvious what makes this community so special.” There’s definitely scope to expand this super family-friendly event when the pandemic has passed and make it an annual Underberg institution. After all, there’s never a time when fun is not required.