MNS2_1 copy Reflective strips, arrows and barrier tape. It takes a few hours to design a unique course for every event through the vineyards of neighbouring Groot and Klein Constantia for the Merrell Autumn Night Series. It takes 2,5 hours to diligently route mark the 8km trail in the afternoon.

It takes a minute for a big log, carefully marked as an obstruction in the path, to be inadvertently tossed over the side into the bush to cause chaos with the front runners who, charging along through the darkness, veer off their pathway, down the slope and through the bushes to reach the twinkling light in its new position, thereafter blazing their own trail to the finish and confusing the marshalls, the timekeepers and the race director by crashing in with times that would do the 5,5km runners proud.

MNS2_13 copyIn the spirit of trail running, they don’t complain. After all, they didn’t sign up for a mindless treadmill race. And they then had plenty of time to take advantage of the free wine tasting offered by Groot Constantia at Simon’s Restaurant where the race base is hosted. All the other entrants managed to stick to the planned route and enjoyed the combination of single track and vineyard paths, moaning of course, as all runners do, about the up hills.

MNS2_30 copyNext week is the final night race in the Autumn series, always a festive event with runners bedecked in the most absurd outfits and decorated with luminous paint competing for the handsome Merrell and Black Diamond prizes handed out to the most colourful characters. With such an interesting canvas, this year runners and spectators are invited to Take a Shot in the Dark during the evening. All photos posted to social media will be eligible for prizes sponsored by Digicape.

As always, race results and Mark Sampson’s enigmatic portraits are already posted on Mountain Runner Events facebook page and website.