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Trail grading

The Wildrunner Trail Grading system (WTG), was developed in 2009 and designed to help you make informed decisions on trail running events around the country. Unlike road running, trail running routes and races have many more facets to them, making them either harder or longer (in time) than you may expect.

Every race/event should give you the total distance and accumulative ascent, but using road running sense to work out your time based on these factors alone would be a mistake!

The three primary 'trail factors' affecting your overall time and effort on a trail run are as follows:

  • Terrain difficulty (easy or tricky?)
  • % single track/off-road to on-road (how much on difficult terrain?)
  • Route severity (how steep?)


The three factors mentioned above have been expanded into an easy three part grading system. Each trail factor is listed below with the descriptions. Look out for races with a WTG and use this guide to make informed decisions.


'Technical' terrain = trail that is ‘busy’, that requires extensive concentration and trail running technique - for example a rocky hiking path, or a 4x4 track.

'Off-trail'= Describes sections that do not have any obvious or established route, for example a river bed, grass field or a section of beach.

'Single-track' = Describing a trail that is narrow and typically only wide enough for one runner to run on at a time and in single file. Examples of typical single track would be a hiking trail, mountain bike trail, game trail, livestock trail



 Cape Trail Series®  - Tygerberg Nature Reserve: YELLOW 8B

Gauteng Trail Series®  - Pelindaba Nature Reserve: ORANGE 6A

Jonkershoek Mountain Challenge 38km: GREEN 8B

Skyrun 100km: RED 9B


All Wildrunner events carry this grading system - look out for the grading on the event listing.



YELLOW = Easy, non-technical terrain, all on established trails and tracks

ORANGE= Moderately easy terrain, short sections of ‘technical’ terrain but largely easy running, all on established trails and tracks

GREEN = Moderate challenging terrain, with a mix of ‘technical’ and ‘non technical’ terrain, mostly on established trails and tracks but may or may not have extended sections regarded as being ‘off-trail’

BROWN = Moderately difficult terrain, more ‘technical’ terrain than ‘non-technical’ terrain, challenging but mostly on established trails and tracks although may or may not have extended sections regarded as being ‘off-trail’

RED = Difficult terrain, majority ‘technical’ terrain that is extremely demanding, may or may not have large sections on un-established trails and tracks



1 = 1-10%

2 = 11-20%

3= 21-30%

4 = 31-40%

5 = 41-50%

6 = 51-60%

7 = 61-70%

8 = 71-80%

9 = 81-90%

10 = 91-100%



A = Mostly runnable gradient

B = Mostly runnable gradient, but has some steep ascent and descent that may require walking

C = Lots of steep ascent and descent that may require walking