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Floods and border closures force TNC to remain in SA in 2022

The bi-annual 5 day, 200km Namibia Crossing wilderness running race from South Africa to Namibia will, as a result of border closures and flood damage, be contained within South Africa’s Richtersveld National Park in 2022.

Typically, this race through the oldest and most biologically rich mountain desert region in the world, traverses over an official country border between South Africa and its northern cousin, Namibia.  This border line is defined by South Africa’s longest river, the Orange River, that runs 2,100km (1,300 miles) from the highlands of Lesotho in the East all the way to the Western coast.   

Sendelingsdrif, the location of the start of the TNC, is a tiny remote mining town that sits on the South African side of the Orange River, and together with a tiny customs and immigration outpost, has a small cabled car ferry that connects Namibia to South Africa (see image).  This official border post and car ferry is crucial to the operations of the TNC as it is the only way we can get supplies & support vehicles from one side of the river to the other.  

But this vital operational link has been dealt a double death blow.  First to the kill was COVID-19, which shut down all official land borders to our neighbouring countries.  While the majority of the key trade and industry land borders between Namibia and South Africa are open again, Sendelingsdrif border post remains closed, with no signs yet of it reopening.

The second killer blow was a sensational Orange River flood in the early part of this year (images above show the comparison between ‘normal’ flow at around 25 cumec, and the flow during the  flood).  In January and February 2022, the river rose vertically over 5m, pushing 3,000-3,500 cumec (cubic metres per second) at its peak. This is the equivalent of filling 15,000 to 17,500 bathtubs per second, or 7.4 million pints of beer a second! This, as you can imagine, caused untold damage along the length and breadth of the Orange River valley, including completely destroying a logistically crucial road link on the Namibian side of the river.

So, even IF both the border post and ferry were operational at Sendelingsdrif, we would not be able to access the Namibian section of the run anyway.  As a result, the TNC 2022 will be hosted only in South Africa, with all the running taking place within the magnificent Richtersveld National Park.  The map image below shows the 2022 TNC route. 

This forced situation has some very positive benefits for participants.  For one, there are less COVID-19 travel considerations and implications for both South African and International participants.  Secondly, we will spend two nights in each of the two remote camps of Hakkiesdoring and De Hoop whilst inside the National Park, meaning less packing up each morning, leaving more chance to relax and enjoy each location.

Awaiting the participants is still five magnificent days of fully supported running through a truly unique and outstanding desert landscape, with evenings under a star-studded sky and delicious home cooked meals around a roaring African fire. For more information click here, or head to wildrun.com

Please feel free to contact Tamaryn tamaryn@wildrunner.co.za or call +27 (0)72 438 3242 if you have any questions.