Heaven and Hell Mountain Marathon

Race Day








Race Description: 

The Heaven & Hell Marathon is intended to provide the ultimate mountain running challenge in Africa, and is not recommended as a Comrades qualifier! The race is an absolutely brutal 44 km mountain run with 3 756 m total elevation gain over extremely technical terrain. That translates into 85 m elevation gain per km; an amount of climbing which no other race in South Africa comes close to matching. The organisers have also not been able to find any 44 km race globally that includes as much climbing as the Heaven & Hell.
The race is run at an average altitude of 2 150 m and the route has everything a mountain runner looking for the ultimate challenge could hope for – extremely steep gradients, ridiculously technical wilderness terrain, multiple crossings of the famous Bell River, two peak summits at over 2 500 m, pristine mountains and spectacular scenery. A few sections of the ascents and descents will require scrambling and liberal use of grass tufts as handholds!



Entries open on 1 February 2019

Participants can choose to enter the 22km half marathon distance with 1 878 m total elevation gain, or the ultimate challenge of the 44 km race with 3 756 m total elevation gain, which will be the most grueling marathon of your life, guaranteed. The 44km race comprises 2 laps of the 22km race. The cut-off time for the 22km race is a generous 12 hours. The cut-off times for the 44km is 12.5hrs. The record for the marathon set in 2018 stands at 8hr33min. Very few athletes are therefore expected to finish the 44km race within the cut-off times, but those who do will have the satisfaction of knowing that they completed one of the world’s toughest mountain races and will receive an engraved Heaven & Hell sheep-bell.
For friends and family members there will be an 8 km race (760m elevation gain and cut off of 6hrs) which follows the first section of the marathon route. We are excited to announce that we will also offer a 14km race. There will also be a scenic and enjoyable 5km fun run along the Bell River and various other fun activities for the whole family, including hiking, fly-fishing and tennis.
Please contact Hylton on 0725292747 or hylton.dunn@gmail.com

Race Info: 

Click here for more details

GPX tracksHeaven and Hell Mountain Marathon

Race Information 2019:

Date: Saturday 21 September 2019

Venue: Grace-Hill Farm, 4km East of Rhodes Village

Presented By: Alpine Swift Trails High Altitude Training Facility


  • 2km race with a 3756m elevation gain
  • 1km race with a 1878m elevation gain
  • 14 km race with 1118 elevation gain
  • 8km race with a 760m elevation gain
  • 5km fun run along the Bell River

 Race Start Times:

  • 44km race – 06h00
  • 22km race – 06h00
  • 14km race – TBC
  • 8km race – 08h30
  • 5km fun run – 09h00


 Race Entry Fee:

  • 44km Race – R950
  • 22km Race – R650
  • 14km Race – R400
  • 8km Race – R250
  • 5km Fun Run – R30

Early Bird: Before 30 April 2019

A 10% discount is applicable for entries and/or meals and/or accommodation booked at Alpine Swift

Entry Procedure:

Enter online at www.alpineswifttrails.co.za click on “Heaven and Hell” and scroll down to the online entry form.

Select your race and which meals you would like.

You will then be emailed an invoice for payment.

Your entry and meals are then secured upon payment.


The following meals will be on offer: Prices are per person.

Friday Briefing Dinner – R180 (3 course)

Saturday Runners’ Breakfast – R80

Saturday Dinner – R180 (3 course)

Sunday Prize Giving Breakfast – R140 (full spread)

There will be beverages and alcohol on sale.


There is limited accommodation available at the race venue (Alpine Swift Trails)

Please book this accommodation directly with Sunelle (do not book accommodation via any of our accommodation websites as this will be blocked).

Accommodation at Alpine Swift Trails High Altitude Training Facility: All accomm­­­­­ is self-catering.

Swallows Nest Chalet: Exclusive private mountain chalet with spectacular views. Fireplace. Deck with Braai. Eskom. Sleeps 2. On Suite.

Amanzi Empilo Rondawel: Exclusive private rondawel close to Bell River. Deck and Braai. Solar and Gas. Sleeps 5. On Suite. Double Bed, bunker bed, and sleeper couch.

Training Facility Rooms 1-4: Overlooking the 25m natural swimming pool and tennis court. Sleeps 4 in two bunker beds. The kitchen, ablutions, lounge, fireplace, braai areas are all shared.

Training Facility Family Rooms 5&6: Overlooking the 25m natural swimming pool and tennis court. Each room is on suite and has own fireplace. Double Bed and bunker bed. Sleeps 4


Self Catering Accommodation in and around Rhodes area:

ParkGate Guesthouse: Hannelie 045 974 9269

Mt Nephin Guesthouse: Vicky Lee 072 405 4618

Rhodes Info: Margie 045 971 9003

Jill Steynberg: 072 499 4569

Elizma den Heyer: 083 659 3271

Tiffindell Ski Resort: 045 974 9004

Tenahead Mountain Lodge: 045 971 8901



To be confirmed

Cut Offs:

To be confirmed


Please note that there are no money prizes

Trophies will be awarded to all finishers of the 8km, 14km, 22km and 44km races within cut off.

Sponsorship Prizes will be awarded to the male and female winners of the 5km, 8km, 14km 22km, and 44km races.

Route Information:

Mostly same route as in 2018.

GPX tracks available on the website for 8km and for the 22km race. Note the 44km race is a two lapper of the 22km race. The 14km GPX track available soon, elev gain is 1118m.

The 22km race is as follows: An 8km loop on the southern side of the Bell River and a 14km loop on the northern side of the Bell River.

Those entering the 44km race are required to do the 22km route twice.

These races are run at an average altitude of 2 150 m and the route has everything a mountain runner looking for the ultimate challenge could hope for – extremely steep gradients, ridiculously technical wilderness terrain, multiple crossings of the famous Bell River, two peak summits at over 2 500 m, pristine mountains and spectacular scenery. A few sections of the ascents and descents will require scrambling and liberal use of grass tufts as handholds! There are no roads, very few paths and jeep tracks, some rock hopping and 235 stairs to start off with! There are many climbs, many descents, and few level sections.

The route is runnable in most places for those that have some form of mountain running technical ability. The route does not traverse steep cliffs, ledges or places where rope work, etc. would be necessary. Athletes are however required to stay on the marked / GPS route at all times to avoid landing up in trouble as there are many potentially dangerous sections close to the official race route. Concentration is vital. You need to concentrate at all times to stay on the route. You also need to concentrate over the technical terrain to avoid twisting ankles or falling. The route is rough and any loss on concentration is likely to result in potential injury.

Navigation on the 8km, 14km, 22km, and 44km races

The route will be well marked. The next marker will be visible from the previous one. Should you not pass a marker after having run 500 meters or more from the previous marker, the rule will be to return to the previous marker and to navigate your way again carefully to the next marker. All markers need to be passed. Marshalls will be placed along the route. Anyone found not following the marked route will be disqualified. Your GPS unit will confirm the correct route.

Although the route is well marked, the GPS track needs to be used for confirmation of the route. The GPS track will be made available in the final 6 weeks preceding the race and this track needs to be loaded onto your GPS unit. Participants of the 14km, 22km, and 44km races will not be allowed to start the race without a GPS unit. A basic map with the route will also be allocated to each runner.  This is an extreme mountain run and although the route is well marked, you will need to have navigational skills to avoid getting lost. Please note that the GPS track may change due to final route changes for whatever reason deemed necessary by the race organiser. In this case, the latest GPS track will need to be loaded to your unit and followed. The final route will be discussed in the compulsory race briefing.


There will be 4 manned checkpoints:

Start / Finish CP

CP 1 (approx. 4.5km)

CP 2 (approx. 11.5km)

CP 3 (approx. 14km)

It is the responsibility of the participant to ensure that the check point time keeper has listed them as having passed through the check point.

There may be unmanned checkpoints.

Final arrangements regarding all checkpoints will be mentioned at the race briefing.

Water on the route:

The route passes a few watercourses. Depending on sufficient rainfall or snow, there may be running water in these watercourses. The water in the streams and rivers is usually drinkable. The water in the higher lying areas is some of the cleanest and purist water. This water may be slightly murky after rainfalls.

Seconding / Refuelling

The start/finish area will be at the lowest point, i.e. at 1850m and this will be at the training facility area. There will be a checkpoint where the race time-keeper will record your time. Here you can offload/reload supplies. This is thus a seconding point for the 22km and 44km participants. There will be refreshments available here to all participants. There are ablutions here. If you don’t have a second to assist you, you may leave a kitbag at this area. Seconding and refueling will only be permitted at the start/finish area.

Compulsory Gear for 8km race:

  • Space Blanket
  • Whistle
  • The route map
  • Your race number
  • Waterproof Jacket / Rain Jacket
  • Your racing T shirt / long sleeve shirt
  • Warm jacket or fleece top
  • Cap
  • Beanie
  • Gloves
  • Charged cell phone with race organiser’s number saved
  • Basic hikers backpack containing at least 1L of water in bottles/bladder
  • Sufficient food/energy bars to last up to 5 hours
  • First aid kit containing head ache tablets, rigid strapping & knife/scissors.
  • Trailrunning shoes or hiking boots that have sufficient grip. Road running shoes, sandals will not work in the mountains.

Compulsory Gear for 14km, 22km and 44km races:

This is an extreme event in the mountains where so many things could go wrong and therefore we are going to be strict regarding compulsory gear. Please so not enter this race if you don’t have these items:

  • Space Blanket
  • Whistle
  • The route map
  • Your race number
  • Waterproof Jacket
  • Your racing T shirt / long sleeve shirt
  • Long sleeve thermal top
  • Cap
  • Beanie
  • Buff
  • Gloves
  • Charged cell phone with race organiser’s number saved
  • GPS unit (incl. batteries) with the race track
  • 1 x set spare batteries for GPS unit
  • Hydration backpack containing a carrying capacity of minimum 2L water.
  • Sufficient food/energy bars to last up to 5 hours
  • First aid kit containing headache tablets, rigid strapping & knife/scissors.
  • Headlamp with spare batteries – only for the 44km race
  • Trail Running shoes that have sufficient grip. Road running shoes will not work in the mountains.

Recommended Gear for 8km, 14km, 22km and 44km.

  • Sunscreen
  • Waterproof gloves
  • Waterproof long pants
  • Eye protection/sunglasses
  • Gaiters

Compulsory Kit Checks:

Kit checks before the start of the races.

Please ensure that you have all the necessary kit items listed in the Compulsory Gear above.

There will be random kit checks along the route.

Should you not be in possession of any of the listed compulsory kit as listed above, you will be disqualified from the event.

Race Registration and Medical Checks for 14km, 22km and 44km:

At race registration for the 14km, 22km, and 44km, you will need to sign an indemnity form. You will also need to undergo a compulsory medical examination by the Race Medics to determine whether you are fit for the race. Should you be using any medication, this needs to be declared to the Race Medics at this examination

Race Garments: Various Race Garments will be on sale at the race.


Rhodes falls in a summer rainfall area.

The race date was chosen as we don’t expect much rain or snow in September. However, it is possible that bad weather could set in at any time in these mountains and that is why a GPS unit is part of the compulsory kit.

The race organisers may need to cancel or stop the event at any stage, should bad weather set in.

Expect windy weather. It is usually more windy towards the top of the mountains.

Activities, Food & Fuel:

If you are not running in the main races, the following activities will be on offer at Grace-Hill Farm whilst the lap races are underway:

  • 5 km Fun Run
  • Horse Riding R75 for 30 min
  • Tennis – Tournament or Social on Race Day TBC
  • Bird Watching
  • Fly Fishing (Please bring your own rod and talk to management regarding licensing etc before you fish)
  • Walks along the Bell River
  • 4 x 4 routes and mountain bike routes in the area
  • Photography
  • Viewing of the high altitude training facility in progress
  • Picnic / Controlled Braai spots along Bell River under Willow trees.

There will be food, soft drinks, fruit juice and alcoholic beverages on sale.

There is a very well stocked tourist shop on the farm that sells food, beverages, and mementos.

Please note that there is no fuel station in Rhodes Village. Please fill up at the closest town before Rhodes (Barkly East).

For emergencies, Sean de Wet does carry sufficient quantities of petrol and diesel from his house in Rhodes Village. Sean can be contacted on 083 327 1724.

Fauna & Flora:

All events are run through private farmlands.

You may encounter Vaal Rhebuck, Mountain Reedbuck, Greywing Francolin, rabbits, sheep, cattle, goats, horses and snakes.

The race organisers will advise on snakes at the race briefing. Please pay attention. The two main types of snakes found in the area are Berg Adders and Rinkhals. Please be careful.

There are mountain flowers and other endemnic flora on the race route. Where necessary, protected areas will be camped off using twine, rope or danger tape. Please do not enter these zones. Follow the route markers.

Anyone found deliberately damaging any fauna & flora will be disqualified.

Assistance during the Race:

  • No assistance may be accepted from any person or facility not connected to the event or crew. Seconds are permitted only at the start/finish area.
  • No participant may carry equipment or supplies for another participant.
  • The organisers reserve the right to make allowances for any participants with a disability.

Event retirement:

It is essential that if any participant retires from the event, that he/she notifies the Race Directors, Sunelle Dunn or Hylton Dunn and the timekeepers at the start/finish area.


All persons that are participating in the events or in the activities as mentioned above will be asked to sign an indemnity form. These forms will be signed at the compulsory briefing on Friday night or from the start/finish area at the swimming pool during the course of the weekend or at respective race registrations.

Final Note:

From a personal note, we would like to mention that you are indeed entering what the toughest race in the country, if not in the world in terms of climbing ratio!! You will be climbing approximately 85 vertical meters per kilometer of running. As tough as it is, you will be treated to some of the finest scenery. We look forward to hosting you soon at Alpine Swift Trails High Altitude Training Facility.


Hylton&Sunelle Dunn

Alpine Swift Trails

Grace-Hill Farm, Rhodes

Heaven & Hell Mountain Marathon

Maps and Profiles:

8km Race


Total distance: 8km
Max elevation: 2489m
Min elevation: 1851m
Total elevation gain: 760m

22km Race


Total distance: 22km
Max elevation: 2578m
Min elevation: 1822m
Total elevation gain: 1880m

Participants :

Participants :
8km 22km 44km
1 Alex Jongens Alicia Grobler Greg McQueen
2 Yonela Nyondlo Dan Moody Hylton Dunn
3 Lebo Molemane Gerhard Vosloo
4 Mihaela Petcu Janine Barnard
5 Mitzi Heiriss Kevin Storm
6 Nonpumelelo Ginya Nic Wiltshire
7 Palesa Sengoatsi Oscar Mampetlane
8 Patience Mashela Stone Gopane
9 Sally Moolman Travers Pellew
10 Sandisile Xolani Zwane
11 Ayanda Khayikhaya Duandri Botha
12 Nicole Coetzee Sydney Speelman
13 Brink Botha Xolile Madi
14 Erhard Sauer

Online Registration :

Upon submitting your online registration, you will then receive a quotation email from the race organisers. Your entry will be secure once payment is made


Chronic Medication

Heaven & Hell Mountain Marathon

Meal options

By completing and submitting this form I state that I am aware of the risks and potential hazards involved in a mountain race and will participate on my own risk. I will not hold the organisers Alpine Swift Trails, nor the owner of Grace Hill Farm responsible for any accident that may occur during the event or for any damage or loss of property suffered. I will adhere to the rules and safety measures required at all times and any changes made during the event.

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