As the weekend approached I knew that I had my long run coming up – 30km. I searched for an awesome adventure run that would give me that distance, a decent elevation profile (hopefully close to or over 1000m gained) and something I hadn’t done before. I finally settled on Van Gaalen’s Cheese Farm.
At Van Gaalens they have a few routes to choose from, anything from 5km to 30km+. I know the Magaliesberg Crazy Store Challenge was run from here, and that the route they did was 30km long. The route sounded so fantastic – through the farms, straight up onto the Magalies ridge, and the right along it for some sheer drops, technical running and beautiful views. I was so excited.
I got to Van Gaalens, got a map and asked for “the 30km route”. It was pointed out to me as the “Oom Piet se Rivier” path, and I set out.
Spoiler alert: if you are looking to run the 30km Magalies ridge route – the Oom Piet path is not it. That route is called the Vulture Route. I learned this only after the run.
The route begins by taking you through a tunnel made from sugar cane. It is absolutely fantastic, and honestly feels like you are in a different world. This tunnel carries on a for a good few kilometers, and eventually opens up onto a path that quickly takes you along the river.
The signs can get confusing, but every time I thought I had gone off track I was still on the correct path. Running along the river was amazing, with some great technical patches and a lot of small and steep ascents and descents. The path then separates from the river and heads out into vast open field.
As I followed the single track through the fields and onto different farms, I marvelled at how amazing of a place the Magalies is. On either side of me were mountains in the distance, with a crisp and clean air around and beautiful veld.
The route slowly started meandering toward the mountain on a steep incline at around 15km. As I got close to the base, the path turned and ran alongside it. It was around here that I realised I was on the wrong route. Nevertheless, the run was fantastic and although incredibly flat (under 200m total elevation gain) it gave me a good grounding to get some speed work in on trails.
The route then swung back towards the farm for the second half of the loop. The fields turned to riverside, which turned to sugar cane tunnels with some amazing forest in between. Even though this was not what I had come to run, I was absolutely thrilled with the experience. The Oom Piet route was just shy of 30km, so I looped back through the sugar cane tunnels to add the final few in.
If you’re looking for a great, flat run through some really interesting terrain Van Gaalens has loads to offer. If you want a long run, you can do the Magalies ridge route leaving from the farm (adding 12km to the 30km for a total of 42km) or you can drive/get dropped off at a neighbouring farm to do the 30km route. There is also a fantastic deli to sit and wind down at afterwards.