StrongmanRun SA gets rough and ready in Paarl

Billed as the ‘strongest race of all time’, the cross-country-obstacle-race was run for the first time outside of Europe when the town hosted the event earlier this month.

The now-annual event is the latest in a racing calendar positively bursting with extreme events, catering for athletes constantly clamouring to test themselves – both physically and mentally – by running, scrambling, jumping, swimming and catapulting around an epic playground built with adults in mind.

With three distance on offer – 8km, 14km and 21km – I was roped into the middle distance this year and despite the first 5km of the route leaning towards the vertical, I had an absolute blast out on the course.

StrongmanRun in Paarl

The race got off to a gentle start, meandering through the centre of Paarl, with a couple of timid obstacles to get the bodies limbered up, but with the early introductions out of the way, the course quickly got ugly with a big uphill section leading us up to the Afrikaans Language Monument overlooking Paarl from above.

Not one to complain out loud, I channelled my thoughts inwards, seeking consolation in the fact that I skipped the 21km, which took those poor souls that entered that monster all the way up to Paarl Rock!


The obstacles were few and far between on the climb, which in hindsight managed to leave some juice in the legs for the last two-thirds of the route, which was mercifully flat and fast…

Once the climb was behind us, the obstacles began to make their mark and it’s fair to say, the race really kicked into gear. From mud baths and river crossings to rope climbs and foam pits, the StrongmanRun throws a heck of a lot at you in a relatively short space of time!

Hell, they even had a ditch filled with tomatoes to cross!

Like any obstacle course, the real challenge is the constant shift in movement – going from a run to shuffling under ropes through a vineyard can be brutal on the glutes, while running in a wet shirt led to some serious chafe and bloodwork.

StrongmanRun in Paarl


Ask anybody that competed in the StrongmanRun what stood out for them, however, and apart from the physical challenge and unbridled joy of crossing the finish line, it will undoubtedly be the scenery.

Few places are as visually pleasing as Paarl and the organisers of the race have done a good job of incorporating both the history and heritage of the town and the beauty of the winelands and natural surrounds into the route.

From the town centre to Paarl Rock and the Taal Monument, to the rugged, natural vegetation surrounding it, the StrongmanRun is a superb advert for why you need to book a weekend in Paarl.