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Merrell Hobbit 90km Journey

27 November 2020 @ 4:00 am - 28 November 2020 @ 8:00 pm

“I’m Going On An Adventure.”

2020 event will be held on the 27-28 November 2020

2021 event will be on the 20-21 March 2021

Merrell Hobbit Journey 90km – Fro 27th and Sat 28th November 2020

See info for the Merrell Hobbit Trail Runs 38km, 16km, 5km  – Saturday 28th November 2020

SEE HOBBIT TRAIL RUNS INTERACTIVE ROUTE MAPS HERE (GPS tracks can be downloaded from these maps) 

Set yourself off on a wonderful, wandering Hobbit journey by tackling the iconic and notoriously demanding Amathole Hiking Trail of the Eastern Cape as a two day staged run or one of several shorter tracks on offer.

For the Big One, its just you amongst thirty brave journeymen and women sharing the adventure covering 90km of varied and magical terrain. From Maden Dam explore the enchanted indigenous forests and intriguing Amathole mountains up to Cata mountain hut to pass the night with good food, good cheer and tired company. The next morning forge onward past cascading waterfalls and across crystal clear streams while enveloped in glorious vistas (and no small amount of sweat) as you make your way over the Hog’s back to finally descend into the town with the same name.

It’s Bucket List stuff for those who have already ticked off other tough trail marathons and applicants must qualify to be offered a place.

Meanwhile, the 38km run on Saturday may be referred to as the short one at this event but this phenomenal route is consistently noted as the ‘most value per kilometre’ trail run in the country. Showcasing an immense variety of terrain and challenges, the course has determined runners building a very special relationship with the ups and downs of mountain running.

The 16km and 5km routes are neither flat nor easy, but very doable and see a mixture of racers and casual runners all loving the magical vibe of the forest along well marked routes.


Arminel Hotel, Hogsback, Eastern Cape. The Arminel has been our race venue of choice for five years, offering excellent accommodation and restaurant facilities and a perfect social finish area where you can promptly collapse on a lounger by the pool. All chalets at the hotel have been reserved for the race and bookings are managed by Mountain Runner. BOOKING FORM HERE

  • Self Catering Family Cottage – 3 bedroom house (1 double bed, 2 singles and 2 bunk beds) fully equipped – R2200 per night
  • Arminel Hotel – Double / Twin Room – 2 persons
    • inclusive of Dinner, Bed and Breakfast – R1950 per room per night for 2 persons
    • room only – no meals – R1300 per room per night for 2 person
  • Arminel Hotel – Single Room – 1 person
    • inclusive of Dinner, Bed and Breakfast – R1050 per room per night for 1 person
    • room only – no meals – R725 per room per night for 1 person
  • Arminel Hotel – Double / Twin Room – 3 night package – Suits one 90km athlete plus partner (no single supplement for Friday night, keep same room) –  3 nights / 2 persons. ie 2 people for Thursday night, 1 person Friday night, 2 people for Saturday Night – inclusive of Dinner, Bed and Breakfast – R4800 for package


Flights to East London and then 120km (1hr30) drive. Transfers available from www.awaywiththefairies.co.za

Other Accommodation Options www.hogsback.co.za/

Comprehensive driving directions from all over the country


Family and friends of those running have no fear of being bored in this mystical fairy tale land, reportedly the inspiration behind J.R.R. Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit.”

The area is a haven of creativity with many arts and crafts studios to visit and workshops to attend. Horse riding, Hiking, Mountain Biking, Birding and Abseiling and plenty of coffee shoppes.

www.hogsback.co.za for more info.

The shorter 16km and 5km runs on Sunday 26th April are also suitable for those wanting to explore and experience the excitement of the trails, finishing in the same place and just before the first 90km runners return.


Merrell Hobbit Journey 90km Race Info

Friday 27th and Saturday 28th November 2020

Entry fee: R4000 (includes VAT) – ENTRY FORM HERE 

  • Limited to 30 runners
  • PRE ENTRIES ONLY and subject to application being approved
  • Entries close 1st November 2020
  • Entrants must be 18 years or older on race day
  • Entries open: Full entry fee is due on entry. If payment does not reflect within three days of entry, entry will be cancelled unless arrangements have been made with Mountain Runner for payment in installments. Please email to discuss.
  • Refunds: 70% refund possible up until 26th Aug 2020 (3 months before the event) following a written notification of withdrawal. Please note: most of our costs for this event are incurred and committed to long before you even start training. As such, it is to both our benefit that a substitute is found and we have a very fair substitution policy.
  • Substitutions: Substitutions are possible up to 12h00 Friday 13th Nov 2020 (2 weeks before the event) with a fee of R750. Substitutions must be offered to the wait list first.
  • Racers who have entered before 5 Jun 2020 will have four options:
    • transfer their entry to the postponed Hobbit Trail Runs on the 27-28 Nov 2020,
    • transfer their entry to the 2021 (scheduled for 20-22 March) or 2022 Hobbit Trail Runs (no top up payments will be required)
    • refund of 70% of entry fee (up to 3 months before the event – 26th Aug 2020)
    • find a replacement runner for your entry – standard substitution fee will be waived

    Cut-off date for selection of which option will be 26 Aug 2020. Should you not communicate your choice to us, your entry will automatically be transferred to the 27-28 Nov 2020 event with no option of then changing selection.

  • Should the event scheduled for the 27-28 Nov 2020 be cancelled due to National Restrictions surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, entries will be transferred to the 2021 or 2022 Hobbit Trail Runs.
  • Tog bag and gift items included in race entry are only for those who compete in the event and will not be handed to third party recipients.

Race entry includes:

  • Permit for the trail
  • Bus transport from Hogsback to the start (approx. 1hr45min)
  • Accommodation, snacks, dinner and breakfast at Cata Hut for the midway overnight stay on Friday day night
  • Tog bag for overnight gear (issued at registration)
  • Transport of your overnight bag to Cata Hut
  • Paramedic team on site in 4 X 4 vehicle
  • Personalised finisher’s memento

Race entry does not include:

  • Briefing and prize-giving dinners
  • Accommodation before or after the event
  • Personal medical, nutritional and hygiene requirements
  • Any snacks or performance nutrition during each day’s run
  • Helicopter evacuation, or any hospitalization transport or hospitalization, which will be at the athlete’s cost.

Event Itinerary:

Thursday 26th November 2020:

  • 17h00 – 19h00 – Registration and compulsory pre-race briefing

Friday 27th November 2020:

  • 04h00 – Bus transport from Arminel Hotel to start line at Maden Dam
  • 06h00 – Start at Maden Dam

Saturday 28th November 2020:

  • 05h00 – Start at Cata Hut
  • 19h00 – Prize-giving

Route Overview

90km of mostly single track mountain paths, passing through indigenous forest, plantations and mountain grasslands with a total elevation of 4800m and drop of 4100m. It follows the five day hiking trail maintained by the Department of Water and is marked with their signs and painted symbols, though at times these can be slightly sketchy. It is not route marked for the race.

This is a tough, gruelling, exhausting trail run; be prepared to be out for between 7 and 15 hours per day and aware that you may complete each stage after nightfall.

SEE HOBBIT TRAIL RUNS INTERACTIVE ROUTE MAPS HERE (GPS tracks can be downloaded from these maps) 


The first day starts at Maden Dam and follows the Amathole Hiking Trail to Gwili-Gwili and over Mount Kemp, up to Dontsa just below Mount Thomas and then turns to follow the ridge towards Cata, the half way stop at 45km. The second day of 43km begins at 05:00am with a climb over Geju Peak and then once again follows the ridge line past Mnyameni and Zingcuka with a final climb up Hog 1 and then straight down to the finish at the Arminel Hotel, a total distance of 90km.

Maps will be distributed to all runners at the start; detailed instructions, maps and GPS co-ordinates will be emailed in the final two weeks before the event.

Runners Info

  • Times per day range between 7 and 15 hours (Results with split times 2017)
  • Runners must be self-sufficient on the route. No seconding and no feeding stations.
  • There is plenty of potable water available from natural waterways along the trail.
  • Basic hiking map reading ability is essential.
  • In the interest of safety and at the organiser’s discretion, there will be cut off times along the way, after which emergency routes must be followed. This does not disqualify you.
  • Runners must be fit and have run a trail marathon within one year of participation of this event.
  • Runners must stick to the marked trail on the map provided. No short cuts are allowed.
  • There will be a sweeper.
  • There will be checkpoints. Missing a checkpoint will move you to the end of the results.


  • This Journey is a serious challenge even to a mountain goat. Due to the nature of the trail this event should be considered extreme.
  • There will be emergency services with 4×4 vehicles on the course but be aware that they could take several hours to reach an injured runner – hence the compulsory equipment.
  • Helicopter evacuation, or any hospitalization transport or hospitalization, which will be at the athlete’s cost.
  • Should the race medic declare any participant unfit to continue, he or she must withdraw from the event.

 Compulsory Running Equipment

This is for your own safety and is not debatable. MISSING COMPULSORY EQUIPMENT MEANS NO RUN. There will be kit checks at registration and along the route.

  • Backpack
  • Water container min 2l.
  • Waterproof rain jacket (NOT just a wind breaker)
  • Base layer / Fleece – Top
  • Base layer – legs/pants
  • Buff / Beanie
  • Headlamp and spare battery
  • Whistle
  • Space blanket
  • Food/drink requirements for the day
  • Basic first aid kit
  • Cell phone – emergency numbers will be supplied at race briefing
  • Compass
  • GPS is not compulsory but highly recommended.

Recommended Equipment

  • Gaiters to stop grass seeds and stones getting in your shoes
  • Sunglasses
  • Sun block
  • Camera.

Overnight Gear to be sent to Cata Hut

  • Small tog bag will be issued at registration and is the only bag that will be transported to Cata Hut
  • Sleeping bag
  • Towel
  • Personal toiletries
  • Earplugs are recommended
  • Warm clothing for the evening – expect very cold temperatures at night
  • Race clothing and trail food for Day 2.
  • NOTE: Warm clothing used for the bus trip on Day 1 to the start will be taken to Cata Hut.

Cata Hut

Competitors will spend Saturday night at the basic hiking facility, Cata Hut, high up in the mountain with beautiful views. There are four rooms with bunk beds and external ablution facilities with a rustic donkey boiler for hot water showers.

Our staff and your overnight bag will be there to greet you. Snacks will be available and a warm and hearty dinner is served in the Lapa at 19h00. Breakfast will be on offer from 04h00 on Saturday and the start of Day 2 is promptly at 05h00.

Back to top for general event info


27 November 2020 @ 4:00 am
28 November 2020 @ 8:00 pm
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Arminel Hotel
Hogsback, Eastern Cape South Africa + Google Map