The Braamfontein Spruit, one of many streams in Johannesburg, flows through the northern suburbs of the city, giving those who bike, trek, and trail run along its banks a much-needed breath of fresh air. The “spruit” extends from Paulshof to the south of Johannesburg, near the Melville koppies. It meanders through Emmarentia, Parkhurst, Craighall, Riverclub, Bryanston, and Rivonia along the way, totalling about 25 to 30 kilometres.
The Braamfontein Spruit now looks very different because of the phenomenal growth of mountain biking. It undergoes routine cleanings and maintenance initiatives, such as those done by the Hollard JUMA MTB Adventure, City Parks, and Johannesburg Water in advance of the urban mountain biking race in July 2014. The spruit is much busier now than it was previously because it is such a well-liked MTB track.
The Spruit’s history is intriguing. There was an equally ardent effort to cleanse and clean up the spruit and its surroundings in the 1970s. Enough for the spruit and surrounding meadows to be designated as a park. With 32 kilometres, Braamies is now the world’s longest municipal park.
But for a large portion of its recent existence, the spruit has been littered and overrun with “unsavoury individuals,” neither of which serves as a very warm invitation to the locals.