Heaven and Hell Mountain Marathon

Race Day








Race Description: 

The 2020 edition of the brutal Heaven & Hell Mountain Marathon in the Southern Drakensberg Highlands will include a new 88km race boasting 7510m elevation gain and in this race, the first male will receive R25 000 cash and so will the first female provided they finish within the 25 hour cut off. The race consists of 4 x 22km laps and is open to anyone that is 25 years or older.  Race date is Wednesday and Thursday, 23 & 24 September 2020.

Based at the Alpine Swift Trails High Altitude Training Facility in the Rhodes Village area of the Southern Drakensberg, the 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 – steep gradients, technical wilderness terrain, multiple crossings of the famous Bell River, multiple peak summits at over 2 500 m, pristine mountains and spectacular scenery.

The following races are on offer:

  • 88km race with 7510m elevation gain
  • 44km race with 3760m elevation gain
  • 22km race with 1880m elevation gain
  • 14km race with 1120m elevation gain
  • 8km race with 760m elevation gain
  • 5km fun run along the Bell River

Early Bird Entries close on 15 October 2019.10.09 Get your entry in before this date for discounted rates!

Visit the Alpine Swift Trails Facebook page for videos, photos and results of the 2019 event.

Race Info: 

Click here for more details

Heaven and Hell Mountain Marathon

Race Information 2020:


Date: Wednesday & Thursday 23 & 24 September 2020

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

Presented By: Alpine Swift Trails High Altitude Training Facility


  • 88km race with 7510m elevation gain
  • 44km race with 3755m elevation gain
  • 22km race with 1878m elevation gain
  • 14 km race with 1120 elevation gain
  • 8km race with 760m elevation gain
  • 5km fun run along the Bell River


Race Start Times:

  • 88km – 18h00 on Wed 23 Sept
  • 44km race – 06h00 on Thur 24 Sept
  • 22km race – 06h00 on Thur 24 Sept
  • 14km race – 08h00 on Thurs 24 Sept
  • 8km race – 08h00 on Thurs 24 Sept
  • 5km fun run – 08h00 on Thurs 24 Sept


Early Bird Race Costs 1 – 15 Oct 2019:


  • 88km Race – R2000
  • 44km Race – R950
  • 22km Race – R650
  • 14km Race – R400
  • 8km Race – R250
  • 5km Fun Run – R30


Race Costs 16 Oct 2019 – 13 Sept 2020:


  • 88km Race – R2500
  • 44km Race – R1100
  • 22km Race – R750
  • 14km Race – R450
  • 8km Race – R300
  • 5km Fun Run – R40

Entry Procedure:

Enter online at www.onlineentry.co.za

Select and pay for your race entry and meals.



The following meals will be on offer:

Prices are per person.

Wednesday Briefing Dinner – R180

Thursday Breakfast – R90

Thursday Prizegiving Dinner – R180




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

Please book this accommodation directly with Hylton or Sunelle


Hylton: 072 5292747

Sunelle: 082 460 3151



Self Catering Accommodation in and around Rhodes area:


Park Gate 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


Cut Offs:


8km Race – 6hr cut off

14km Race – 8hr cut off

22km Race – 12hr cut off

44km Race – 13hr cut off

88km Race – 25hr cut off




The race is run through private farms

The following landowners need to be thanked:


Francois & Hannelie Nel

Stefaans & Melanie Naude

Robin & Leone Turnbill

Janbert, Caroline & James Reeders

Gerrit & Mariaan Henning


Please ensure that all fences are crossed at the allocated fence crossings. These could be metal crossings or wooden ladders. Please do not damage any fences. There are no gates, however should you pass through a gate for whatever reason, please do close it behind you.  

You need to stay on the marked route, failure to do this could lead to erosion.

Any form of littering will not be tolerated and if found guilty, you may be disqualified. Littering is a severe threat to farm animals and wildlife.



An engraved sheep bell trophy will be awarded to all finishers of the 8km, 14km, 22km, 44km & 88km races, provided they finished within cut off times.

Sponsorship prizes will be awarded to all male and female winners.

R25 000 cash prize to 1st male and 1st lady in the 88km race provided they finish within the 25hr cut off time.


Route Information: 8km, 14km, 22km, 44km & 88km races


This is a marked mountain run that includes technical terrain. The ascents and descents vary from mild to steep. The race is run from marker to marker and may include some single cattle tracks and jeep tracks. You will be traversing typical Drakensberg Wilderness. 

The 8km race is a loop south of the Bell River.

The 14km race is a loop north of the Bell River.

The 22km race consists of the 8km loop and the 14km loop.

The 44km race is 2 x 22km

The 88km race is 4 x 22km

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 – steep gradients, technical wilderness terrain. Participants doing the 14km/22km/44km/88km will encounter multiple river crossings of the Bell River, 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 built stairs to start off with! There are many climbs, many descents and very few level sections.

The route is runnable in most places for those that have mountain running technical ability. The route does not traverse steep and dangerous cliffs or ledges. 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 entire route is marked with pink bags that are attached to metal poles. The next marker will be visible from the previous one. These markers are spaced no more than 500m apart. Should you not pass a marker after having run 500 m 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 may be disqualified.


We highly recommend the use of a GPS unit for those running the 8km and 14km races. For those running the 22km, 44km and 88km races, it is compulsory to carry on your person at all times during the race, a GPS unit with a set of spare batteries. Ultimately you will need sufficient GPS battery life as per respective cut off times.


Although the route is well marked, the GPS track needs be used for confirmation of the route. The GPS track will be emailed to all participants on request at any time or in one of the regular newsletters before the race. Participants of the 22km, 44km and 88km races will not be allowed to start the race without a GPS unit.

The GPS route will also assist any runner of the 44km and 88km races that run into the dark.  


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 at race registration and briefing. Final route will be discussed in the compulsory race briefing and at registration.


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.



There will be 4 manned checkpoints (CP):

Start / Finish CP





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.

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


Potable Water:


The water from any tap at Grace Hill Farm is suitable to drink. This water is pure spring or mountain water.

The route passes a few watercourses such as the Bell River and other streams. There has been minimal rain and show this past winter and as a result this water may not be running and therefore not recommended for human consumption. The river and streams are currently very low.

Please ensure that you carry sufficient water in your bottles or backpacks. Water will be available at the seconding / refuelling point which is the Start / Finish Check Point.

Seconding / Refuelling

The start / finish area Check Point will be in the parking lot at the new Training Facility at Grace Hill Farm.

Here you can offload / reload supplies. This is thus a seconding point for the 22km , 44km ad 88km 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 your kitbag at this area. Seconding and refuelling will only be permitted at the start/finish area.


Compulsory Gear for 8km and 14km race:

  • Space Blanket
  • Whistle
  • The route map
  • Your race number
  • Waterproof 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 2 L 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 22km, 44km and 88km 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 head ache tablets, rigid strapping & knife/scissors.
  • Headlamp with spare batteries – for the 44km and 88km race
  • Trail Running shoes that have sufficient grip. Road running shoes will not work in the mountains.

Recommended Gear for 8km,14km,22km,44km,88km

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

Compulsory Kit Checks:

There will be compulsory kit checks for all races before the start of each race.

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

There will also be random kit checks along the route.

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

Indemnity Form and Medical Checks for 22km, 44km, 88km:

You will need to sign an indemnity form.  For those participating in the 22km, 44km and 88km, you will also need to undergo a compulsory medical examination by the Race Medics, Gardmed Ambulance Services, 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 Number:

You will receive a personalised race number at the Registration. This number will be in your goodie bag. This number needs to be attached to your front and please do not attach the number on your back or to your backpack. Your name and number needs to be visible especially to the Check Point Captain so that they can mark you off as you pass through their Check Point.


Race Timing:


Each participant’s race will be timed by George Stroebel.

Race Photography:


Claire van der Walt from Pro V Photography will be the official race photographer and apart from taking spectacular photos, she will be doing a highlights and a documentary video of the race.



Safety and Security:

You are ultimately responsible for your own possessions and valuables. Please ensure that these are well looked after, especially those that are camping. There will be a security guard on duty throughout the weekend. The South African Police Services will also be ensuring visible policing.



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 for those running the longer races, ie the 22km, 44km and 88km.

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.



The following activities will be available:

  • Social Tennis
  • Bird Watching
  • Walks and picnic along the Bell River
  • 4 x 4 routes (10 of the highest mountain passes in RSA) and mountain bike routes in the area
  • Photography
  • Kiddies activities



Grace Hill Shop at the main training facility is a well stocked tourist and coffee shop supplying meat, biltong, groceries, sweets, snacks, koeksusters, alcohol, beverages, milk, bread etc


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 medics, Gardmed Ambulance Services, 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. 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 check point 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 closest Check Point captain and/or the Race Directors, Hylton and Sunelle Dunn and the timekeeper George Stroebel at the Start / Finish area.

Travelling to Grace Hill Farm:

Grace Hill Farm is situated 4km East of Rhodes Village.

The closest main town is Barkly East which is 60km east of Rhodes Village. Although other road options are available, you are advised to travel to Grace Hill Farm via Barkly East as this is the shortest and better gravel road of 64km. The road is rocky and corrugated in places and there are also a few slippery loose gravel sections so please drive carefully, slowly and patiently. Best to use a high rise vehicle that has sufficient ground clearance. Please ensure you carry the basics i.e. spare wheel and jacks, spanners etc.

Please be careful if you decide to travel the more scenic routes to Grace Hill Farm via Lundeans Nek Pass, Volunteershoek Pass or Naudes Nek Pass as these roads are more suited for 4×4 and currently are rocky and ungraded. There is no significant pass when travelling to Grace Hill Farm via Barkly East.


Final Note:

We look forward to hosting you soon at Alpine Swift Trails High Altitude Training Facility. Please contact us on 072 5292747 or 0824603151 or hylton@alpineswifttrails.co.za or www.alpineswifttrails.co.za for further information. Photos and videos can be viewed on the Alpine Swift Trails Facebook page. 


Hylton & Sunelle Dunn

Alpine Swift Trails

Grace-Hill Farm, Rhodes

Heaven & Hell Mountain Marathon 2020