Posted by Kyle Redelinghuys in Running on July 17, 2014
The following is a guest post by Erik Vermeulen from the awesome Adventure Photos.
There are two islands of Mauritius. The one is what we see in glossy travel brochures – lazy resort hotels where you can lounge around all day be served cocktails. Honeymoon destinations characterized by charm and romance few other beach resort holidays can match.
The other Mauritius is an adventurer’s paradise. One with grit. One with endless mountain tracks and trails to the highest, most remote peaks and lowest valleys. A Mauritius definitely not for the faint-hearted – an island requiring you to dig deep for endurance and determination. This is the twin I met with recently.
The Dodo Trail lifts the veil on the adventurer’s paradise. It’s billed as a trail run, but it is so much more – it truly is an adventure of the highest order. With routes over 50km, 25km 10km and a 5km fun run, it draws over 1300 entries from 13 countries. Be warned though – even the 10km event is not a “fun run”. It’s a brute of a run, taking in over 500m vertical meters of altitude gain and reaching a maximum height of 315m. Still, it’s the resort version of the Extreme Dodo Trail. 50km with more than 3500m of altitude gain. There is nothing flat about this race – except the first 5km dash from the sea to the start of the first climb!
Starting in the shadow on Le Morne Brabant on the south west corner of the island, the race begins with a fast, flat 6km trail along the beach until you tackle the ascent of Piton Du Fouge, a 600m peak. From there the roller coaster run takes in another 6 peaks of over 500m before runners drop back down to sea level off the 550m Tourelle Du Tamarin. This drop only takes about 5km! It’s knee jarring stuff. In between these peaks, runners traverse the famous Black River Gorges and summit the highest point on the island – Black River Peak at 814m.
Runners on this challenge not only need to contend with a demanding climbing and descending schedule, the nature of the trail is also unlike anything South Africans are used to. Black basalt rocks tell the story of the island’s violent volcanic origin – it also litters the single track with either slippery round pebbles or sharp solid basalt spikes. Nowhere is your footing secure and even a fractional loss of concentration can have painful results.
South African interest is growing by the year, thanks to the enthusiasm of Gavin Grobbelaar. Over 50 South Africans entered the Dodo events in 2014, with Salomon athlete Landie Greyling and her husband Christiaan leading the charge. Landie emerged as the winner of the Ladies Extreme race, completing the 50km course in 6:49, beating the previous record by 26 minutes. Christiaan came in 6th overall in the men’s race, which was won by World Champion Ricky Lightfoot in an astonishing 5:19. Ricky beat second placed Jean-Pierre Grondin by 37 minutes.
But how does The Dodo Trail rank against the epic trail runs we have in South Africa? Two SA runs stand out – The Otter and The Num-Num Trail Challenge. Ricky and Landie have run both and they agree without hesitation that The Dodo Trail is way tougher than SA’s toughest.
There appears to be no reason for you not to discover the two islands of Mauritius in July next year. Start off your week on the island by discovering its adventurous side and wrap it up with a few days of recovery at Heritage Le Telfair resort. I loved it there, and this is definitely on my radar again next year.
For more great pictures head over to Adventure Photos.