A Race with No Route

A Race with No Route
The PONDO Trail Run is doubtless one of the most incredible races - and experiences - any athlete can hope to complete. But the PONDO, as it is commonly known, is not for the faint of heart. Taking place from the 22nd to 26th May 2024, this event sees participants running 103km of some of South Africa's most rugged coastline between Port Edwards and Port St Johns. Teams of two must run, navigate and finish together, with no set trail defined - following only the path of least resistance, often the beach or trails cut into the hillside by centuries of cattle and human movement.
This area is rarely visited by tourists, with spotty reception, rough roads suited only to 4x4s and few easy accommodation options. Rural and rugged, with rolling hills dropping to endless arcing bays, sediment rich rivers streaming into the ocean where the valleys meet the sea, and cattle strolling absent-mindedly across the sand like lost beachgoers looking for a misplaced towel - or a new path, perhaps. These are scenes that move slowly, and echo of a simpler time - a time before plastic, a time before our hustle and bustle touched even the mountains. This is not an easy environment to traverse, and perhaps that is why even the cows never rush anywhere.  But this is all part of the appeal for the intrepid participants of the PONDO Trail Run - humans who are set on testing their mettle and friendships away from the madding crowd and closer, ever closer to themselves and the people who call this incredible slice of our Planet home.
The PONDO is not just a trail run, not another event to tick off and leave with a shirt and a medal. It is an exploration, albeit supported, of one of our last truly wild spaces. Participants leave with aching legs and a smile, a sense of fulfilment that comes not from the miles underfoot but from chasing glittering dolphins down the coast. For those who like to really push themselves, the 103km stretch can be traversed in one go - an undertaking that sees participants navigating the gruelling terrain partly at night. For the slightly more sane, including our very own Leïla (Operations Director) and Jonti (Head of Apparel) -  or the Sealand Sisters - the stretch is broken up into 3 segments of 36, 34 and 33kms over 3 days - with beautiful nights, food and accommodation put on by Wild Child Africa, the PONDO hosts. 
The focus extends beyond the runners and to the communities that host this event. Funds and donations are collected for schools and books, operations for children and support for the people who call this pitted paradise home and who open their arms to welcome and support the runners on their way. This is tourism, but not as we know it. Tourism with heart, with grit, with people and for people. An event with purpose for purpose. Sealand has always believed in support for People, Planet and our Partners, and is proud to once again provide the official bags for this year's participants.
When arriving at the start line, runners are given a simple rule: if it can't fit in your Sealand x PONDO bag, it's not coming with. By keeping weight down and sizes standardised, Wild Child Africa is able to easily transport this clutch of vibrant orange duffels from rest stop to rest stop, ensuring that runners need not worry about porting their possessions across racing rivers and gorgeous gorges. We believe their time should be spent in awe of the natural spaces, and in support of their fellows, not stressing about breaking zips and fatigued canvas - so we make sure each participant may return home with the bags they've grown attached too, good for years to come. Sealand will also be sweetening the evenings with prizes, awarded by our Sealand Sisters to selected individuals who keep pushing through and encouraging others to do the same.

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