Trail runners safe after night on the mountains

17 April 2024 | From Arrive Alive

Large numbers of dedicated professionals and volunteers from Wilderness Search And Rescue (WSAR) responded to Nuweberg Forestry Station in the Hottentots Holland Nature Reserve and Jonkershoek Nature Reserve after two trail runners were reported missing on Sunday evening.

The pair had departed the Jonkershoek gate shortly before 08h00 on Sunday, intending to run over the mountains to the Nuweberg Forestry Station, finishing by 16h00. 
Family members contacted the emergency contact number – 021 937 0300, when they were not able to contact the two ultra-endurance runners after they missed their deadline.
Wilderness Search And Rescue teams, including CapeNature rangers and a drone from the Western Cape Department of Health & Wellness EMS Drone Unit, were deployed from the Nuweberg Forestry Station into the mountains late on Sunday. 

Unfortunately, the urgent search yielded no results and teams stood down in the early hours of Monday morning.

Fresh rescue teams, including specialised trackers, and the Western Cape Department of Health & Wellness EMS / Air Mercy Service (AMS) rescue helicopter responded to Jonkershoek when the search resumed at first light on Monday morning.

Thankfully, the pair found their way from the mountain to a point where they were able to contact family members, while teams were getting ready to deploy into the field.
A small team was sent to collect the overdue runners near Franshhoek.

It is understood that the two were delayed on their intended route. When they realised that they were not going to make it to Nuweberg, they decided to follow a trail down Assegaaiboskloof from Berg River Neck.

Unable to safely proceed in the dark, they sheltered next to a river on Sunday night, and continued following the trail after sunrise on Monday.

A passing mountain biker directed them towards a nearby road and the two called family members as soon as they had cellular reception.

The incident was concluded shortly after 11h00.

According to David Nel, a spokesperson for Wilderness Search And Rescue (WSAR): “The two ultra-distance trail runners were aware that there was limited cellular coverage and had told family members where they intended to run, when they intended to return and who to call if they did not return – 021 937 0300.

“They carried sufficient precautionary gear to ensure that they were able to survive a cold night out, in the unlikely event of an emergency.

“They stopped and rested for the night when it became unsafe to continue any further after dark.
“This incident highlights the importance of proper preparation, and a little common sense.
“We urge all outdoor enthusiasts to follow their example and remember boy scout adage – Be Prepared. 

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