From Steve Black

Steve Black wins 2013 Mountain Mutter

Steve Black running the Mountain Mutter
Steve Black on his way to another Mountain Mutter victory.

The 2013 Mountain Mutter was different to any of the trail runs that were run before. Instead of having two stages 40 km there, and then 40 km back again, the course was 67 km without a break – a tougher assignment than before. Steve was initially unsure of whether or not to enter the race as he came down with flu not a week before the race. Alas, as we know a little flu won’t ever stop the King from running, and run he did. A 4600 foot climb took Steve 8 hrs and 37 minutes to finish, only 3 seconds ahead of second and third place (Pressure indeed!). It took Steve 1 hr 45 minutes to reach the top of Thule. The wind reached gale force strength and the weather was extremely hot – not ideal running circumstances. After Thule the race wound into Sehlabathebe National Park via the Park Lodge, and then onto Tsoelokane Waterfall. From there they raced to the border of the Eastern Cape, and back down again to St Bernard’s Peak Hotel.


The spirit of the “white horse” lives on


Saturday 31st of March 2012 will go down as one of the sad days in ultra-running. Losing one of it’s custodians, a man that embodied the free-spirited meaning of why we run, passed away while out running in the forests of New Mexico. Some would say it was a fitting end to the life of a person who spent so much time in the solitude of nature, running free and wild. Others would say it was a tragic loss, an empty void that only a man as bold, yet as understated, as Micah True (AKA Caballo Blanco) could fill.

Few knew of the “white horse” until his character was made public in the now infamous book Born To Run by Christopher MacDougall. For most average runners, it’s hard to completely understand the mind set of an ultra-runner, and more so that of an individual who devoted so much of the second half of his life to exploring the natural world, more often then not, on his own. He became rooted within a community that continue to exist in the remotness of the Sierra Madre, a population grounded by the true meaning of what it takes to lead simplified lives.

  “The Rarámuri are not ’super-human’ as depicted by some. 
They are very real people facing very real problems and issues,
like all of us. We are all much more alike than different.”  

~ Caballo Blanco

His ways became legendary, often disappearing for days as he ran between villages, connecting with the various friends in the Tarahumara communities he made along the way. He inspired many by his unassuming demeanour, a personality that will continue to ignite the spirit of many who aspire to personal fortitude through their own running. He made time to stop and speak to people, often spending a few days with them sharing his stories – a true free spirit.

Recently, a young South African film maker by the name of Andrew King travelled to the Copper Canyon Ultra Marathon to begin work on a documentary he has embarked on about the true spirit of an ultra-runner. To have met Micah True for the first time, and to have been one of the last few people to have seen him alive, we asked him to share a few thoughts about his first, and now lasting, impressions of Caballo Blanco.

Micah True lived by a simple philosophy of caring, peace and honesty that is embodied in his well known motto of Run Free. This is a vision he spread everywhere he went by the person that he was, and the things that he did for the betterment of others.
I had read the literature about the famed mythical person of Caballo Blanco made popular but the Christopher McDougal book Born to Run and attracted to the parallels to the story I am hoping to tell in my as yet unnamed production about South African Ultra Runner and Underberg Horseman, Steve Black.

Steve flies largely under the radar, and has a similar calm and piece around him and at 57 years old is still driven to explore, learn and connect. He was also incidentally instrumental in getting me excited about endurance sports and the mental strengths involved. When I heard Steve was going to run the Copper Canyon Ultra I was astonished that this was common knowledge and negotiated there and then to document the next year of his life which besides Mexico involved running on various continents and ultimately culminating in the 100 mile Iditorun in Alaska this time next year. It was the story of humility, integrity and running for the joy of it in the purest sense that made our trip to the Copper Canyons the perfect fit. A simple email exchange with Micah including a concise summary of the story I was hoping to tell and a PayPal race entry donation that got me in the door. Micah also suggested that I join the Club Mas Loco Google forum which had discussions and information about the race. After submitting my request to the User forum and being accepted by the moderator, Micah himself, I was granted what I consider one of the greatest privileges of my life, as during his disappearance for 5 days and after his passing, I was given a front row seat to the support, tributes and outpourings of emotions from his closest friends and those around the world that shared his beliefs and vision. Many of the personal tributes talk about the complete genuineness of Micah True. There we certainly never any ulterior motives with him and everything he did was for the betterment of others, and I think that is something that this complex world we live in is crying out for.

Micah admired the Tarahumara Indians honest, caring and un-materialistic way of life and he believed that this attitude all stemmed from their simple their joy of running. This respect was quite clearly reciprocated by the Tarahumara for whom Micah had done so much. Although they could speak the same language, they very seldom spoke at length to each other, it was more in the way they carried themselves in each others company. Calm gestures, eye contact and subtle nobs that spoke of their deep gratitude. This attitude of respect was infectious and anyone that takes the time and (considerable) effort to travel to the Copper Canyon Ultra is immediately swept up in it. It is the common bond that links all of the outsiders or Mas Locos as dubbed by Caballo. Many of the heartfelt tributes on the User Group speak about the difference between legend and legacy. The iconic figure of Caballo Blanco will be told for many generations, a status which is deserved, but could just as well have been earned by various ways, by being notorious or similarly by having won a handful of medals and trophies. Legend, however is something entirely different to Legacy, and it is quite clear that Micah True has left behind a legacy that is positive, meaningful and lasting. And what greater privilege can there be than to leave behind such a legacy.

Through the few conversations and time spent running with Micah in the Siera Madre, as well has having been witness to the way he has inspired those around the world, my resolved to produce a meaningful documentary of the integrity and pure values shown by amazing people like Micah True and Steve Black is as strong as ever as I continue this journey.

A fitting quote from Micahs close friend Scott Lease. “Micah Ignited a bon fire and invited everyone to throw their wood on it, to join in the warmth and light…. We will continue this glow into the hearts of everyone that loves to run free….”

The Unlimited Non-Stop Dusi 2011 Media Release

The Unlimited Non-stop Dusi returns to its roots

Durban – The fifteenth edition of the toughest one day canoeing race in the world looks set to return to its roots when The Unlimited Non-Stop Dusi gets under way at Camps Drift in Pietermaritzburg at dawn on Friday 4 March.

Since it’s formal inception in 1997 the race has grown steadily in popularity as more and more paddlers are drawn to the extreme challenge of completing the traditional three day Dusi course in one day, in a format that is almost devoid of rules and compulsory paddle and portage sections.

The origins of the tough race extend back to an informal arrangement between serious endurance athletes to try and complete the Pietermaritzburg to Durban paddle and running adventure several weeks after the famous three day race, usually at a date hastily arranged when the rivers were full after rainstorms in the region.

Paddlers raced when they wanted to, and it was left to a referee to record their times. Steve Black and his brother Alastair Black were the early trailblazers, followed by Richard Starr and Kevin MacLellan.

From it’s underground roots, the sudden demand from paddlers wanting to test themselves against the one-day format race resulted in it’s formalisation, and the introduction of a few basic rules, sponsors and the inclusion of prizemoney for the overall winners.

As the race grew, so did its formalised structure, and when Hank McGregor won it in 2006 in a K1, the race was formally recognising separate singles and doubles classes. Debbie Germiquet soon joined the list of milestones by becoming the first woman to finish the race in a K1 as well.

This year, as the race celebrates it’s fifteenth anniversary, the organisers have decided that the event should focus on it’s founding principals, and seek to remain critically different to the traditional format used in The Unlimited Dusi. The race has shed its K1 class winners awards and looks to reward the overall men’s and women’s winners instead.

The decision has been backed by the winner of the first every Non-Stop Dusi John Edmonds, who feels the race should retain as many of it’s original values as possible.

“Keep the purity of the race,” said Edmonds, who won two of the first four editions of The Unlimited Non-Stop Dusi. “The first boat home is all that matters. Get to Durban however you want. Let’s keep it Old School,” says Edmonds.

“The race is special for so many different reasons,” he added. “There is a truly unique camaraderie, even amongst the crews racing for title. It’s a survival mentality throughout the race, and its the same for every single boat, so it is quite chilled. There is no pushing and shoving, and all the seconds help every paddler in the race.”

Edmonds also likes the fact that the race is run within a bare minimum of rules.

“In the old days of the three day Dusi there was such an aura around Graeme Pope-Ellis, and secrets paths and sneak channels that added such an intrigue to the race, combined with the fact that you never knew what the water levels were going to be like.”

“Almost all of that has changed, and rules are tighter so that the Dusi is run pretty much on the same format each year. I love the “no-rules” character of the Non-Stop because it encourages paddlers to think differently and brings back that special intrigue,” Edmonds added.

“One year my brother (Andrew Edmonds) and I actually planned to run all the way out of Pietermaritzburg, down Polly Shorts on the Comrades route, past the Lion Park and down to the river for the first time at Mission rapid,” recalls Edmonds. “That would have been a 30 kilometer run but when we weighed up the times it just wasn’t worth it.”

John and Andrew Edmonds set a new race record in 2000, a record that stood for seven years before the current race record was set by Martin Dreyer and Michael Mbanjwa, coincidentally shaving seven seconds of the 2000 mark.

Wild Coast Ultra Marathon 2010

The Wild Coast Ultra Trail Run 2010 started at Silaka Nature Reserve in Port St Johns on Monday 8th February and ended at Nahoon Beach, East London, 270 kilometers and six days later.

From the start it was obvious that Steve Black was not easily going to give up his mantle of record holder.  Steve blasted away and after 5 kilometers had lost the following pack, which quickly split up and began the battle with navigation along the rugged coast. 

The 55 year old endurance prodigy had prepared well for the run, completing the course twice since the 2009 event, once the previous week! The weather was hot and humid and this affected most of the field as they exhausted their water and had to seek out fresh supplies, usually from Spaza shops along the way.  Relentless hills, many river crossings and the heat took their toll and 5 runners fell out during day one and chose not to continue on day two.

One runner spent the night sleeping out in the bush. Steve established an unassailable lead of three and a half hours on the first day emphasizing the saying that youth and enthusiasm is no match for age and treachery.

Day two was a repeat of day one and Steve again stamped his authority on the race with no navigational errors and great strength on the relentless hills.  Blistered and sun burnt runners bravely tackled the rest of the course which after day two became more manageable as navigation was no longer necessary as the run now was more along the beach, the tides very much in the runners favour as they had kilometers of nice hard sand to run on. 

Steve and Hylton decided to run together from the third day.  For Hylton it was an apprenticeship, becoming familiar with multi day adventure trail running where there is no support or marked course to follow but he has the strength and speed to win. 

This run is not just about hardship however, the runners spend nights at lovely coastal hotels where they are really well looked after and have an opportunity to discuss the run and route choices over a drink.

The last leg of the event is in stark contrast to the first five days as the ?Discovery Surfers Challenge? is joined for the finish.

 This race attracted 2700 runners in a mad dash and scramble along the rocks and beaches from Yellow Sands to Nahoon Beach culminating in a frenzy of celebration at the life- savers marquee. 

23 runners started the Wild Coast Ultra, 14 completed the distance and the rest managed various legs along the way.  Steve improved his record by an amazing 7 hours and Colleen Durant set a new ladies course record by 10 minutes. 


See for more info and full results.

2012 Lesotho Wildrun report by Rene Jupp

Day 1

All 29 Lesotho Wild runners began their unimaginable mountain journey at 7:10 this morning. The conditions were perfect with no wind and low (but not too low) tempreatures! The mood was great to witness, quite tense and quiet but excited too as they set off to tackle the 42km & over 2000m of climbing of day one!
Steve Black & Gerry Beukes tie on day 1 win on Lesotho Wildrun in 6:09. Third place scooped up by Bruce Shepard in 6:57. Andrew lowndes was 4th in 06.58.23. Chantal Nienaber 1st lady back in 6:59 – 5th place overall. Leander Opperman finished 6th in 7:00. Stephen Kriel, Guy Jennings & Steven Cunliffe joint 7th in 7:11 and the tenth runner in, Erik Hallendorff, 8.05.37. Tired but happy!
Places 11-17 taken by Belinda van de Riet, Angus Tanner and Rob Peters in 8.53.48, Deon Vermeulen and Boeta van Tonder in 9.05.41 and 9.10.51 for Thys Nel and Madelein Barnard. Bongani Sokudela owned the 18th spot with a time of 9.26.49.
Places 19-22 taken by Jane MacKinnon and Japhet Mudau in 10.34.27 and Retha & Theo Janse van Rensburg in 10.39.42

23-24 place, Mary Tsikinyane and Dominic Cullinan at 11.50.30, then the remaining 5 including sweep at 11.50.30 – Samuel van Dyk, Ad Cole, Rob Dijkhuis, Sharon Saylor and Roland van der Merwe. All in safe, long but good day out!!

42km of pure mountain trail, big views, big sky and big smiles. It’s just too magnificent. This is the unimaginable mountain journey we call the Lesotho Wildrun.

28km day 2 of the Lesotho Wildrun started in perfect clear fresh weather!

Gerry Beukes & Steve Black set a blistering pace out front on technical mountain single track & crossing the Maletsunyane at 15.8km in 2hrs. They topped out on the big 500m climb out of the Maletsunyane gorge and checked in at CP1 (18.4km) in 02:47. Andrew Lowdres was cooking in third, 4min behind the leading pair at CP2, 23km. Game was on! With 10km to go the 2011 record of 03:47 set by Allan Benn was being chased with guns blazing!! Leander Opperman was 4th runner in at CP2, just in front of Bruce Shepard in 5th, with 6km to go.

Gerry Beukes & Steve Black won 28km day 2 in 3:59! Allan Benn’s record is safe for another year!

Second place was scooped up by Andrew Lowndes in 04.06.35 and third Leander Opperman came in in 04.08.41. Bruce Sheperd came fourth in 04.11.23. Runners 6, 7 and 8 sharedt the 5th spot in 04.30.27 – Stephen Cunliffe, Guy Jennings and Stephen Kriel.

First lady in today was once again Chantel Nienaber, in a time of 05.03.37.

Next two ladies in were Erik Hallendorff and Belinda van der Riet in, at 05.19.28. Deon Vermeulen, Dominic Cullinan, Boeta van Tonder and Rob Peters came in at 06.12.47. 15 runners in! Madelein Barnard and Thys Nel finished in a time of 06.25.16 looking strong and happy!

Jane MacKinnon was the 18th runner in, in 06.36.58. Angus Tanner came in next with 06.50.45 and next up was Japhet Mudau and Bongani Sokudela in 07.08.51. Retha and Theo Janse van Rensburg was in at 07.13.01.

Last Wildrunners crossed the finish in 9hrs21min. Because it’s just so magnificent out there, you just want to stay out! 40km day 3 looms large tomorrow!

Day 3
Steve won :)
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Steve Black’s Wild Coast Ultra record broken

Monday, 21 February 2011
Wild Coast Ultra Report

They Meyer ‘ave Dunn it!!

Well done to Ciska Meyer and Hylton Dunn on setting new records in the Wild Coast Ultra Trail Run 2011,

The run starts at Silaka Reserve in Port St. Johns and ends on the Nahoon Beach in East London, 270km and  6 days later.

Hylton ran the 2010 race and had also run the route alone prior to the 2011 race to ensure that he knew the course well and lost no time because of  bad route choices.  He knew what he had to do, and set out each day determined to break the record set by Steve Black in 2010.  He succeeded in reducing the overall time by 81 minutes to 30:00:36.  Ciska, a novice to the Wild Coast Ultra, set out strong on day one and just seemed to get stronger every day.  She reduced the record by a staggering 14:44 to set the new record 41:02:16.

The race, now in its 5th year, had a record number of entrants including three people from the USA and one from the UK.  The general impression among the runners was that although it was a huge challenge, the event is set in some of the most breathtaking scenery South Africa has to offer.

I think that everyone that took part came away with their spirits lifted, ready to take on the ‘real’ world again.

For more detailed reports by runners see

Steve Black to run 1100km for girl injured in car accident

Lee Jay is his inspiration. She was injured in a car accident in May 2007 and was paralysed. Neck injuries left her a quadraplegic.

Lee Jay Gooderson

Steve has a couple of decades of multisporting and ultradistance running to his credit. He’s doing this massive run for Lee.

Steve got into trail running more recently. He seems to believe in “Go Big or Go Home”…

“Started Trail running with a race from Bushmansnek Border Post into Lesotho and back again, distance of 85 km, in 2006. Was very lucky and won it, subsequently won it in 2007 and 2008. Have done many other big trail runs, not winning them, but mostly being in the top 3.
2008 ran the Thin Air Challenge through 154 kms of Lesotho; it’s actually a mountain bike race, the organizers allowing me to run as I lack the privilege of a mountain bike; won it overall.

February 2009 did the Wild Coast Ultra from Port St Johns to East London, a distance of 270kms over 6 days, ran from Port Edward to the start at Port St Johns as a warm up, a distance of 140kms over 2 days, was lucky here and won the race in a time of 39hrs 15min, breaking the record by 5hrs 20 min.”

Steve Black with Lee Jay
Steve ran 1100 km to generate funds and awareness for Lee Jay

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