The story of Karkloof and me is a pretty cool one, I reckon. It's about seeing things come full circle and experiencing moments that remain etched in my memory.
My first brush with the Karkloof 100 and its captivating surroundings was during the Training Camp in 2017. We started off at the most picturesque location, Benvie Gardens, and I was smitten instantly. That day, I joined a motley crew of pioneers who believed in something bigger than themselves. Among this group were the Booths and the Davises. Andrew, Jack, and Michelle ran the full 32km, no doubt, while Lauren and I played a bit of car hopscotch, jumping in and out where we could. Lauren managed some logistics, and I was obviously shooting. The content I captured that day was something I was incredibly proud of and it sealed my commitment to the event.
Regrettably, I missed the inaugural Karkloof 100. Before the concept even turned into an event, I was already committed to shooting the Himalayan Expedition Race, my first wild gig in India. But my absence didn't diminish my connection to Karkloof.
Andrew and Jack were my links to this world. I had the privilege of working for both The Trail Lab and KZN Trail Running for a while. My first encounter with Andrew was on the back end of Mnweni before KZN TR took ownership. Andrew was still new to the game, sweeping up and down Rockeries, and Mnweni was my first-ever trail shoot. Our conversations were rich and he suggested that if my Mnweni photos were good enough, I could shoot the second edition of the Lesotho Ultra.
During the Lesotho Ultra, I met Jack and Michelle. Team Davis was running the main aid station, aptly called Camp Davis. I remember stealing their sweets and scampering off to do the high-altitude loop. But our paths crossed again when I ended up on the end of a Trail Lab email. I quickly asked Jack if we could work together and we hit it off! Over the next 4-5 years, I worked all but one Trail Lab Camp and I like to believe that I had some role in inspiring Jack's transition from print media to visual storytelling. Only Jack really knows the truth!
Back in the early days of Karkloof100, I didn't know who was responsible for what. But as Jack moved into visual media, we collaborated more frequently. Jack pushed me hard as a creative, constantly suggesting that we could do better. Our first year behind the lens for Karkloof saw the birth of the concept of "The Couch Before and After". Jack pitched the idea, I said it was doable with only a vague understanding of the concept and boom! The images went viral.
Over the years, our relationships evolved, as did my role. We shifted focus towards more before-and-after pics and fewer race pics. By my final year with Karkloof AL, we were trying to do it all. Going live (when signal permitted), directing photo, video, and social briefs, and managing an awesome team. It was exhilarating!
After 500+ events, I no longer wanted to be just an event photographer. The build-up for the event, understanding of the logistics, and the many moving parts intrigued me. I wanted more.
In 2021, I realized the significant role that Karkloof played in many people's stories of transformation, including my younger brother. He had struggled to find his footing in training and committing to general life admin. Knowing the transformative power of sport, I gifted him a Karkloof 50 Miler Entry. On the day of the race, between running around and working endless hours, my brother crossed the finish line of his first big race. It was a moment of pure joy and shock for both of us - he had run it in 11 hours with just some random training and an indomitable will. At that finish line, I believe he was a changed person.
Now, Karkloof is in my hands. Why? Because I want to give more people the opportunity to experience what my brother did. I want people to experience change on foot and alone in the mountains. Karkloof’s beauty, and its unique race environment, coupled with the right intent, can be a powerful force for change, and I want to help it along its journey as Jack and Andrew did.
Our goals are simple, yet profound. We want to put on one hell of a show, make the race more accessible to new runners (don't mistake this for making it easier), and build on the already impressive heritage of change that Karkloof symbolizes.
So, here I am, not just carrying forward a legacy, but also looking to create new narratives, new moments of transformation. That's my Karkloof story, a story that is still being written.