Brandberg Backyard Ultra 2022: Race Recap

This past weekend saw a very successful inaugural Brandberg Backyard Ultra take place in Uis. André Ross, the 50-year-old Swakopmunder, completed 20 laps and 134 km and was crowned the last person standing after Frans Amakali (41) conceded by 19 laps. Kirsty Brits (42) was the last lady to clock out after she completed 8 laps (54 km).

In a backyard ultra race, athletes need to complete a lap of 6.706 km course every hour, starting on top of the hour. Should they make it back before the hour is up, they use the remaining time to rest before the next lap starts exactly on top of the following hour. As the backyard ultra rules dictate, runners who fail to complete a lap within an hour is disqualified. The aim of the race is to have only one person remaining to complete a final solo lap. This person is then crowned the winner and the race ends. Since there is no predetermined end distance or time, the winner is technically the only finisher, while the rest who conceded all receive a DNF (did not finish) on the scoreboard next to their names.  

A total of 48 runners took part in the event, the very first backyard ultra in Namibia. Of these, 23 were signed up for the Ultra (they were free to run an unlimited number of laps), with 12 in the Challenge category (up to six laps), and 13 for the Fun Run (one lap only). The race started at 10 am from the Brandberg Rest Camp in Uis, and early on it was clear that the day was going to get hot. Some athletes reported temperatures of up to 37 degrees C, but came the next hour, they lined up to head out on the trails for one more loop.

By 5 pm in the afternoon, Kirsty Brits (42) was the only lady left among the remaining 5 gentlemen after new mom, speedy Risa Burger (33) who was still going strong, pulled out to attend to her family. After completing 8 laps (54 km), Kirsty, who is currently training for the upcoming Comrades ultra marathon, also called it a day. As last lady standing she later received the trophy for the female course record.

At six pm the out-and-back day route was exchanged for a flatter, smoother out-and-back night route. Runners were relieved for the drop in temperature as the sun started to set. Harmen Potgieter (29) laid down his sword after 12 laps (80 km), having almost doubled his previous furthest run distance. After two more laps, the ultra-veteran from Windhoek, Hannes Smit (49) called it a day at 14 laps and 94.6 km completed.

The 100 km mark was crossed during the 15th lap, and just before 1 am supporters took to the street in front of the Rest Camp to welcome the remaining three runners with sparklers and huge cheers. This also marked the point where Johan Bronkhorst (54) literally drew a line in the sand and handed over his race number. That left only two very strong-looking men, Swakop Striders member André Ross (50) and Frans Amakali (41), a Windhoek Harrier.

As many runners headed to their tents for some much-needed rest, others kept the fires burning and remained to welcome the duo back after every lap. André’s pace was steady, and the crew soon learned to start looking out for him by 40 minutes past the hour. Frans usually followed shortly after, with ten to fifteen minutes to spare before the next lap. By lap 18, Frans’ pace suddenly dropped and he completed the lap in more than 50 minutes. It was clear that Frans was taking strain, and he mentioned having trouble with his hips.

At 4 am the duo headed out for what would be their final lap together, as Frans called it quits after completing this, his 19th lap of the Brandberg Backyard Ultra course. While supporters welcomed and pampered Frans, André headed out for his solo lap among loud and joyful cheers.

It was now 5 am and a commotion broke loose in the Rest Camp. Sleepy runners emerged from their tents to share in the action and to cheer the winner in.  And sure enough, right on pace, with Chariots of Fire blazing over the speakers and supporters cheering their lungs out, André Ross finished his 20th and final lap. He ran a total of just over 134 km. It was 5:40 am and the race was done.

The high-quality books and accommodation packages from esteemed Namibian lodges that were auctioned off in aid of Save the Rhino Trust income exceeded N$40 000, and the organisers are beyond grateful for the contribution of each and every donor and bidder involved in this regard.

Rand Merchant Bank Namibia (RMB), which was the presenting partner of the Brandberg Backyard Ultra, is acknowledged with much gratitude for putting their name behind the event, a new race concept in Namibia but clearly one to stay and become popular on the yearly running calendar.

And finally, to each and every person who contributed to the event in some way or another, from sponsors to runners, volunteers to supporters, all donors, the venue-, medics-, photography- and media teams, the organisers would like to express a big thank you for making this event a wonderful success. They will reflect with only fond memories of a weekend when history was made in Uis and Namibia as the bar was set high for backyard ultras in Namibia to come.  

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Brandberg Backyard Ultra: News release, 15 July, 2022

With the premiere of the Brandberg Backyard Ultra just around the corner, the organisers are very excitedly preparing to receive the more than 50 dauntless Namibian runners at the Brandberg Rest Camp in Uis on 23 July.

Although the title “backyard ultra” suggests that this should be an ultra race, the event is not only for runners who aim to be the last person standing. As such, the Brandberg Backyard Ultra pool of entrants does indeed include more than 20 experienced ultra-runners, but many of those who will be lining up next week are mettlesome adventurers who will be challenging their own grit and merit. These include athletes who have never run further than a half-marathon and who will be aiming to complete their first marathon, marathoners who are training for their first ultra and runners just for fun.

Melanie Honiball, who went from couch-to-half-marathoner during Covid-times, is very excited to outrun her own furthest race distance of 21.1 km at the Brandberg Backyard Ultra. She is part of a Swakopmund-based training group, led by experienced ultra-veteran Johan Bronkhorst, and has been clocking training runs far beyond marathon distances in prep for the upcoming race.

One of his biggest challenges might be to take it slow and easy, says Harmen Potgieter, trail runner and mountaineer with a Namibian top ten fastest parkrun (5 km) time of 17:36. In this regard, Keletso Nyathi, one of the favourites for the last-person-standing win advised: “backyard ultra is not about the fastest time, but a true test of endurance and tenacity, so take it slow… When you think you are going slow, go slower”.

The Brandberg Backyard Ultra will also sport a handful of weekend warriors, the fun-runners who will complete a single loop of the 6.706 km course and for the rest will be soaking up the race-weekend vibe while supporting friends and loved ones as they battle it out at “the race with no finish line”.

Another exciting item on the race-weekend-agenda will be an auction in aid of Save the Rhino Trust Namibia (SRT). Accommodation packages from esteemed Namibian lodges, as well as high-end merchandise, will go under the hammer to raise funds for the Trust. Simson Uri-Khob, CEO of SRT, expressed his gratitude for the continued support of Rand Merchant Bank Namibia, the presenting partner of the Brandberg Backyard Ultra, as well as race partners such as Gondwana Collection, Daosa Africa, Journeys Namibia, Sandfontein Lodge and Nature Reserve, Natural Selection, Klein Aus Vista, Namibia Breweries, Habitat Home Decor, Cymot Namibia and NutriTech Namibia.

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Newsletter 1 and Checklist

Hello and welcome all Brandberg Backyarders!

Race day is drawing nearer and the excitement is growing! While you are getting in a final few training laps, we are getting ready to welcome you all to Uis and make sure that you have a successful and unforgettable race weekend. In this newsletter, we want to go over the schedule and a few pointers that were mentioned in the race entry, but may have been missed or gotten buried during all the excitement.

With only a little more than a week to go, we want to make sure you come to Uis properly armed and prepared to relax and enjoy your weekend to the fullest. Therefore, please remember the following.

Race Schedule

The event will take place on Saturday 23 July in Uis, with the start/finish area at Brandberg Rest Camp.

  • Registration and race pack pick-up Friday 16h00 to 18h30 at Brandberg Rest Camp and on Saturday from 7 am to 9 am.
  • Pre-race dinner (tickets only sold in advance, none on race weekend) at Brandberg Rest Camp Friday 22 July, 19h30.
  • Race start (all events): Saturday 23 July at 10h00 (please note changed starting time).
  • Saturday breakfast (pre-booking only) from 7 am.
  • Event braai dinner (tickets only sold in advance, none on race weekend) at Brandberg Rest Camp, Saturday 23 July, 19h30 (included in ultra-runners’ entries).
  • Sunday breakfast (pre-booking only) from 6 am.
  • Event conclusion and prize giving at Brandberg Rest Camp after the last runner ran their last loop.
  • No meal tickets will be available for purchase on the days of the event. A la carte light lunches will, however, be available for purchase at Brandberg Rest Camp for the duration of the event but only during normal operating hours.

Race Village Resources

  • A common aid station will be available for actively participating runners, which will serve basic snacks like fruit, sandwiches and treats but won’t be sufficient to fuel a marathon or longer. Athletes are to make sure they have their own race food to sustain them throughout their race.
  • Drinking water will be available at the aid station.
  • (Hopefully) there will be an urn at the aid station with hot water throughout the day/night.
  • There will be first aid and emergency medical response on standby.
  • The swimming pool will be available to all (yes, Uis can get hot in Winter as well).
  • There are several bathrooms in the main lodge, as well as the camping area with toilets and shower facilities.

Runners will be responsible for:

  • Own race food sufficient to sustain them for the duration of their race. Saturday night’s dinner will be available for actively participating runners as well. Runners or their crew need to serve their own runners. Runners without a crew can buddy up with another runner’s crew.
  • Own cups for use at the aid station. No disposable cups will be available at the aid station.
  • Reflective clothing and headlamp with sufficient batteries for night loops. These are required gear for all ultra runners and will be checked during registration. No runner will be allowed out on the course without these proper safety requirements during night loops.
  • Own gazebo, chairs/tables and crew for the duration of the race. A layout of the start/finish area will be available at check-in that will demarcate specific locations for gazebo-setup. Event staff will be limited and won’t be able to assist with filling bottles or serving meals to runners. It is suggested that runners without a crew should buddy up with other teams or self-support.

Important: No assistance can be provided to any runner while they are running a loop, (that
is, from the ringing of the cowbell until the runner has crossed the finish line after completing
the entire loop). Violation of this rule will subject a runner to disqualification and removal
from the race, (as determined by the race director).

  • By now runners should have booked their own accommodation. Rooms and camping are available at Brandberg Rest Camp. The entire lodge is reserved for the event for that weekend, please contact them directly on 064-504 038 or Do not try to book online at booking(dot)com, it will show zero availability. Alternatively, check for other accommodation establishments on our website or contact the race director for recommendations at

We hope that you are just as excited as we are by now! Please don’t hesitate to contact us should you have any questions or requests, we will do our best to help or accommodate you.

See you soon!

Namibian Ultra Trails team

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Event Launch and Media Briefing, 30 June

The inaugural Brandberg Backyard Ultra, the first of its kind in Namibia, which will take place on 23 July in Uis, Erongo, had its event launch and media briefing in Swakopmund last night. The launch was preceded by a 6.706 km group run on the walkway along the ocean, and true to east-weather conditions, die late afternoon conditions couldn’t be more perfect for being out and about.

Some of the runners on the Event Launch Group Run. Photo by Nico Scholtz.
The last stretches of the ‘yard’ (6.706 km loop).

An ice-cold beer welcomed runners and the media to the Pitstop Clubhouse in the MTC dome after the run. The group was briefed on the origin and history of the backyard ultra, as well as the details, rules and forecast for the inaugural Brandberg Backyard Ultra that will take place in Uis on 23 July.

The group enjoyed refreshments and canapes while the media conducted personal interviews with the organisers and some runners. A Question and Answer session with the runners themselves followed, and pre-recorded comments from athletes from elsewhere in the country were also appreciated.

The Q&A session was followed with thanks to Rand Merchant Bank, the presenting partner, for their continued support. Save the Rhino Trust, Namibia, the beneficiary of the auction that will be held on race weekend, was also commended for their continued efforts in safeguarding the free-roaming rhinos of the Kunene Region.

The evening was concluded with the announcement that the prize money for the winner, i.e.the last person who can complete a single loop of 6.706 km by themselves, will be N$ 5,000.00 cash. This amount will become N$ 7,000.00 should the total distance run exceed 100 km, and should it exceed 100 miles (160 km or 24 laps), the prize will be N$ 10,000.00 in cash.

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