Run the fynbos for the VWS

An elated Julie Huckle, the first lady home in the inaugural VWS Nuwewberg Trail Challenge 22km race in November 2018.

The Volunteer Wildfire Services (VWS) is staging its annual Nuweberg Trail Challenge on Sunday March 22 in the Hottentots Holland Nature Reserve outside Grabouw.

The single biggest fundraising initiative for the VWS Jonkershoek and Grabouw firebases, the event had to be postponed from last year, due to permit related complications.

“Thankfully, Environment Forestry and Fisheries Minister, Barbara Creecy, facilitated the waiving of the permit fee, which made a huge difference to the quantum of funds we will be able to raise,” says Jonkershoek/Grabouw station manager, Ian Harrison. “We’re deeply grateful to the Minister for her assistance.”

The event offers two distances – 22km and 10km – both of which pass through some prime examples of the fynbos biome, the natural environment the VWS is committed to conserving, by living up to its motto: holding the line between fire and fynbos.

An entirely donor-funded volunteer organisation some 220-strong, the VWS has formal agreements with CapeNature, SANParks and Overberg District Municipality, all of whom can request hand crews to aid in wildfire suppression operations.

The VWS has deployed multiple crews to a number of fires this fire season, including the devastating Greyton fire, the Nuweberg fire, and most recently, the Du Toitskloof fire.

“For us to deploy crews swiftly and safely upon request from our partners, we must have trained, well-equipped crews, and well maintained vehicles, and that costs money,” says Mr Harrison. “This event can make a significant contribution to our operational expenses, so we’d like to see all the entries taken up.”

The 10km race entry costs R195 and the 22km costs R280. To enter, visit

Runners are asked to pay close attention to the requirements for each race.

The event is hosted at Cape Canopy Tour in the Hottentots Holland Nature Reserve.

The races are officially timed, with timing services supplied free of charge, by Sportraxs Live Tracking, Timing and Safety Management.

There are some great prizes on offer,” says Mr Harrison, “including a Cat S31 handset as first prize in the men’s and ladies 22km race, and a weekend getaway as first prize in the men’s and ladies 10km race. There will also be a number of spot prizes on the day.”

The 22km race starts at 7.30am, and the 10km race starts at 8am. A statutory race briefing for all runners will take place at the start line, fifteen minutes before each race start time.

there are four water points on the 22km route, and two on the 10km route. Both routes are clearly marked, and there will be marshals at regular intervals, all of whom are in radio contact with event centre.

Emergency medical services will be on scene, and a roving medic will be on the routes to render medical assistance if needed, and many of the marshals are also First Aid qualified.

Race number collection takes place at Cape Canopy Tour on Saturday March 21 from 10am to 5pm, and from 5.30am on race day.

Late entries are possible on race day, from 5.30am, but only for cash or SnapScan payments.

For more information, contact Deidré Odendaal on 072 599 7590.

BLOB Norman McFarlane is a volunteer wildland firefighter with Volunteer Wildfire Services.