The Hemel en Aarde trails have steeped themselves in Untamed history in recent years. This is in no small part due to the extreme heat which scorched 2019’s first marathon day into memories. The 98 kilometre long Stage 1 includes 2 550 metres of climbing as it ascends through the best of the Hemel en Aarde Valley seemingly countless kilometres of singletracks and into the searing Overberg planes. The outbound loop trends relentlessly uphill; up Katkloof to The One before before bone-rattling descents point downward. Though the descent back to Hermanus sees an overall loss in elevation, teams should be warned, it is far from all downhill. The return loop is technical and challenging, filled with rugged limestone trails which bake in the March sun, making them treacherous to the tired. Gold medal winning wine estates provide spectacular spectator points for the fans and oases of heaven in a race through hell for the riders.