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Cradle Mayhem 3 Day Stage Race – Hartbeespoort

Cradle Mayhem 3 Day Stage Race – Hartbeespoort


The 3rd edition of Gauteng’s Premier, first and original format stage race held in the world heritage site, the Cradle of Humankind and hosted at Van Gaalen Cheese Farm, Skeerpoort. This event allows you to leave the office slightly early on the Friday to make the late start for stage one and be back in the office on Monday morning with Zero days taken out of your annual leave and you have Completed a Stage Race just outside of Johannesburg!

Before even registering for this race my sister and I talked about doing something crazy that would test us and start to prepare us for our future running goals. Together we  decided that the Cradle Mayhem 3 Day Stage race was perfect since we love Mayhem Sports and we knew that the race would be tough. We did not know what to expect from this type of race since the furthest we have run together was about 23km, and in the race the longest day would be about 38km ( So basically a marathon on trail).

Training before the race was really confusing to us but we knew all we needed to do was run consecutive days to train the body to recover and that we needed to plan our refueling during the 2nd day well. The amount of preparation that goes into something like this is absolutely crazy but that’s why I love this sport!

Lets get down to the race;

Day 1 – 13 – 16km Night Prologue


We arrived early on Friday to check out our lovely accommodation! The tented village was great and i did help that i loved camping but that’s another story. So with gear offloaded and our sleeping arrangements all figured out we enjoyed the sunny day at Van Gallens watching Gavin and James run around organizing everything.

So when darkness was upon us we set off for what was to be an interesting night. Now I am not a fast runner so our little group that consisted of myself, JP and my sister Christine, were in the middle of the pack. The trail was great and the stars were out….this part really blew me away the beauty of the Southern Sky. Getting back to the race we were supposed to turn off at about 5k to head back in the direction of the camp but as luck would have it the board telling us to turn right had fell over! So we headed straight into the darkness…

Later a bunch of us met up on the main road with Andrew that luckily had Google maps open to guide us home! It was a great start to the race because in my view racing is about adventure and everyone knows getting lost is part of running trail :)


Day 2 – 38km


So it turns out that it can get quite chilly at Van Gaalens and I thanked my lucky stars that we had the -8c sleeping bags! In the morning there were a lot of cranky runners because a lot of them did not get any sleep, I managed to get a couple of hours of solid Z’s.

After some lovely Toast and Scrambled eggs we reported to the start arch for race briefing.

And then we were off on the trail not knowing what the hell to expect! We started off with a huge climb up to one of the peaks in the area which was fine for me since i have run that route about 2 times in the past. After we crossed over the peak and headed down into the valley we reached the 1st Aid station. I was feeling good and we were in the middle of the pack of runners not looking to gain any places just to survive the day.

The scenery was amazing! We met up with a team  ( Husband and Wife) and ran together for a couple of km’s before they took off ahead of us. The wife was mentioning to me that only really stupid people would be doing this… I laughed and continued the endurance shuffle. Now at this point we were expecting the aid station to be at 22km but there was a mix up and the 2nd aid station was only at 27km. So now we had a BIG problem at about 20k we ran out of water…

The heat of the day was absolutely exhausting and I was saying out loud ” Why the hell am i doing this?” At this point is was getting quite interesting because it was the first time i have had to dig deep to just keep going,  lucky for us by some miracle a pack of runners training for a big stage race gave us some water since they had plenty to spare.

We made it to the aid station totally bust and sat down with other runners to refuel and chill. The trail running community is really awesome, everyone was sharing food and stories about not having water! From there the next 11km was really great with my sister leading the way we made up some good ground on the other runners and crossed the finish in the middle of the pack.

Things that I took away from that day were:

  1. Always overestimate your water requirements
  2. Racing is also about preparing mentally and not just physically
  3. Encourage other runners when they are not feeling good! A few kind words could make the difference to them finishing the race.
  4. Lastly enjoy the moment!

Day 3 -20km


Waking up on day 3 i felt like a truck had hit me and then someone had bashed my feet and toes with a hammer, everything hurt and I really did not want to get up. My sister was dealing with a bad bout of ITB and she could not even walk properly! But she said she had come here to finish this thing and there was no way she could accept not finishing this race.

From the first time we talked about Cradle we decided that we would finish together and never leave the other behind even if there was an injury. You know like the Bad Boys Movie? “We ride together we die together” hehe

So we set off to climb the pofadder which is this crazy peak that takes you down to your hands and knees, that’s how steep some section are. We managed to just enjoy the run and took some selfies on top of pofadder. We decided there is nothing left to prove and we would just enjoy the painful run to the finish. We were both dealing with injuries but we pushed with all effort to finish that 20k in style, you know as soon as you see the finish line all of a sudden you have new energy and your running like ‘chariots of fire’ is playing.

We finished together…we finished something that we thought was impossible…and we came out of this race closer than ever.


Big thanks to The Multisport Basement, Mayhem Sports, Gavin and James :)



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Pieter Steyn

Founder at Ultrarunner_ZA
Big Dreamer...Loving Husband to a beautiful wife :) Runner and Wannabee UltraRunner! Takes life too seriously.
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Big Dreamer...Loving Husband to a beautiful wife :) Runner and Wannabee UltraRunner! Takes life too seriously.

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