Tackling IMPI’s gruelling 12km route with all 18 obstacles is no joke. Your legs will burn and your lungs will beg for mercy as you cross a three metre wall, climb a 10 metre tower, jump into cold water and wade through mud. But, as you cross the finish line of one of the most unique races, the feeling of overcoming a challenge of this nature will ensure you return for the next one, and the next.
Inspired by ‘a trail run with a difference’, the race began in Cape Town in 2009 with 250 people and this year the total challengers are expected to reach 4 000. Although, it’s made with adventure athletes and outdoor enthusiasts in mind, anyone can do it! The IMPI Challenge doesn’t discriminate. You can be young, old and at any fitness level – as long as you are someone who loves the outdoors, loves a challenge and enjoys trying new things. On one hand it offers the perfect combination of trail running and an obstacle course designed to test your endurance and stamina. On the other hand, it’s a fun day out with a group of mates or colleagues in beautiful surroundings. Race locations are chosen according to terrain and are most often exclusive trails that people don't get to see and experience often.
The course varies from region to region depending on the terrain and the season, but the obstacles are fun and simple: climb over poles, rope through water, up and over a 10 metre tower, navigate a three metre straight wall, jump off a three metre platform into water and run over the New Balance lily pads, which are palettes set over water that you must run over fast enough to ensure you don’t sink.
“This adrenaline-pumping trail adventure race takes place in the most incredible scenic settings across the country.”
Seriously competitive athletes can tackle the IMPI Elite which is a gruelling 18km track with 25 obstacles. The Elite Race has one of the richest purses on the South African enduro/adventure sports calendar at R10 000 for first male and female. The physical and mental preparation for Elite competitors is essential as it is a much tougher course.
Past Elite winner, Charl Souma says, “I enjoy every aspect of IMPI, from registration, to lining up, the presentation, the venue, the event, the after party, the video. It tests your wits, courage, stamina and fitness. I had moments in the challenge where I thought I was stumped, particularly the swims and wall climbs. There were moments of panic, sheer pain and absolute elation. Winning IMPI Elite was a great achievement for me. I expect an even better showing next year, but I also expect a much hungrier field.”
The less serious folks can come out and take on the shorter course for the pure fun of it, although some trail running and upper body strength training is definitely a plus to tackle the obstacles. IMPI’s Facebook page is very active with fitness centres offering tips and tricks as well as blogs full of guidance and training.
It’s not a race so challengers have the opportunity to manage their emotions and overcome personal fears at obstacles. There’s no pressure which also takes a weight off their shoulders and gives everyone the opportunity to just go out there and have fun. It is suggested that challengers come ready on race day wearing the right gear - long tights and a long vest is recommended as you’re crawling on your knees and elbows and swimming in rivers, so you need to wear something that's not too heavy.
If you’re looking for a personal challenge, a team-building exercise or just a great outdoor experience, don’t miss out on the IMPI Challenge - all the aches, pains, cuts and bruises are well worth it.
IMPI’s main charity since 2009 is Woodside Special Care Home for physically and mentally handicapped children. IMPI have provided many resources, medical supplies and equipment. Recently the IMPI Recovery Room was proudly named with donated supplies.
Upcoming IMPI Challenge Dates:
CT: 19 and 20 October @ Lievland Wine Estate
GP: 28 and 29 September @ Van Gaalen Cheese Farm