Next Ocean2Ocean is on Saturday 25 April 2015
A 50km guided mountain trail run.
Next Ocean2Ocean is on Saturday 25 April 2015
A 50km guided mountain trail run.
Back in the day – before I found my trail running feet – I used to own one pair of hiking boots at a time, generally the basic Hi-Tec model. Comfortable and suitable for basic day-hiking – no waterproofing to speak of. They would last me
maybe five years and then get replaced by a similar pair.
Trail running means I spend much of my mountain time in trail shoes. Comfortable and light, they are also more than suitable for day hiking, without the ankle protection that high-top boots provide.
Last year I got to try out the Hi-Tec Para Boots, and in the snow and serious wet conditions, they were awesome. The new neoprene material is pretty hardy, soft and immune to snow and water. The boot is heavy though and not particularly suitable for summer hiking.
So I was pretty chuffed to get hold of a pair of Hi-Tec Altitude V I Wp
earlier this year. They are similar to the comfortable Hi-Tecs of old, just waterproof and sturdier. Having waterproof boots that don’t cost the earth is a big win and something not around in my early days of hiking. This is particularly useful for winter hiking in the Western Cape, where the mountains sometimes resemble a sponge that’s being soaked in water and squeezed. A rather beautiful sponge, but water oozing out of every nook and cranny is only great when your feet don’t get wet. With these boots they don’t.
A hike in Orange Kloof, a particularly wet, beautiful and protected part of Table Mountain was a great opportunity to test my boots, they passed with flying colours, leaving my non-webbed footed friends with…well wet feet, while I walked comfortably though water with no need to rock hop, keeping my feet dry at all times. Made even better when it started to rain. You can’t put a price on dry feet.
Having enjoyed these boots for the better part of this year, I was already suitably impressed but they needed a real test. This test presented itself when we took on the mighty Hex River Traverse, which consisted of a 13-hour day of walking on rough, uneven terrain, mostly with no path to speak of. With most of our party in trail shoes, I was more than happy to have the boots on, both for protection for my feet and support, as we had heavier than usual backpacks.
It wasn’t all comfort though, with the sloped uneven terrain taking its toll on my feet, and a few blisters popping up. Nothing a plaster here and there couldn’t fix up. The boots ultimately passed with flying colours and my hiking companions in their trail shoes passed more than one envious look at my boots.
These boots are definitely the new simple, comfortable and hardy pair of boots, that I got used to use all those years ago. They are light, hardy, have a a good grip and they’re waterproof. Now if they can last me five years, that would really be something.
Here’s to a good few more years.
The 18th edition of the Three Peaks Challenge, a 50km mountain and city run, took place on Saturday in Cape Town. The men’s race was won by Martin Kleynhans (5:24:59), with K-Way athlete Lucky Miya (5:37:01) taking second place. Katya Soggott again won the women’s race, finishing in 6:15:44, only 42 seconds outside the women’s record, which she set last year.
“Conditions were very hot,” says race organiser Gavin Snell, “particularly later in the day in Platteklip Gorge and on Lion’s Head. A large number of participants complained of cramping.”
Snell says that Miya had a good lead at the end of the second peak but, not being a local, he had little knowledge of the route and he lost valuable time later.
” A friend volunteered to show me some parts of the route when I arrived in Cape Town on Thursday, but I still took some wrong turns here and there; but I quickly found the right way again,” Miya explains.
Speaking about his run he says: “At Devil’s Peak and up Platteklip I felt great and strong. It’s a tough section with very lovely trails on this beautiful mountain. I managed to open a big gap of about 15 minutes. Then, right at the beginning of the last peak, Lion’s Head, I started cramping and it was really a tough mission to get to the top. Martin Kleynhans caught me here and was so kind to offer me tablets to stop the cramps, which helped a lot”.
“I’m very happy with my second place,” Miya says. “What an incredible experience with wonderful support on the route and at the checkpoints. I’m very blessed to have this opportunity from K-Way to explore the Three Peaks Challenge.” Results2014-Final
|Devil’s Peak||Table Mountain||Lion’s Head||Total time|
|1. Martin Kleynhans||1:48:50||2:16:07||1:20:02||5:24:59|
|2. Lucky Miya||1:48:44||2:00:50||1:47:27||5:37:01|
|3. Dom Wills||1:50:09||2:19:06||1:33:27||5:42:42|
|1. Katya Soggott||2:05:17||2:34:33||1:35:54||6:15:44*|
|2. Caroline Balkwill||2:18:25||2:53:45||1:58:54||7:11:04|
|3. India Baird||2:39:48||3:04:18||2:00:35||7:44:41|
The Three Peaks Challenge website is www.threepeakschallenge.co.za.
For 18 years runners have assembled before sunrise on Long Street for the start of a race that takes them up and down Cape Town’s three peaks. Devil’s Peak, Maclear’s Beacon (via Platteklip Gorge) and Lion’s Head. Participants have 14
hours to complete this 50-kilometre Challenge, which is presented in proud partnership with K-Way.
Looking at the line-up, race organiser Gavin Snell has his money on K-Way athlete Lucky Miya.
“Aside from Lucky, who is coming from Joburg for his first Three Peaks, no other names stand out for a hands-down win; he is the outstanding favourite. But, there are always new people who come along to run that are completely unknown. Three years ago we didn’t know who AJ Calitz was; he won his first Three Peaks in 2011 and again in 2012. He holds the course record for the fastest time ever.”
“But,” Snell adds, “Lucky doesn’t know the route and this may open the door for strong runners, like Dom Wills, who have the experience and speed and know the route.”
As Miya has never been on the course, his objective is just to make it through without taking a wrong trail.
“I’m completely in the dark about the route. I would have loved to come down early to scout the route but due to my work commitments this has not been possible. I’ll have to struggle and survive on the day,” he says.
In August Miya flew to Colorado to run the 21-kilometre, uphill-only Pikes Peak Ascent. He placed 19th overall and 4th in his age category.
“My experience and training from Pikes Peak will boost me a lot but Three Peaks will require great fitness to go up such challenging steep climbs,” he adds.
“I’ve had a busy year and I can feel the fatigue now so I won’t be going out 100%,” Miya explains. “On Saturday I’m going to have fun and be part of this event that my sponsor, K-Way, also supports. This year I will learn the route so I can go hard in 2015.”
Three Peaks is the type of event that runners return to year-after-year. Even race organiser Snell is in for his 18th run. “And then there is Brian Key,” says Snell. “He is turning 76 in November and he’ll be running his 13th Three Peaks. Until a few years ago he was still running in the Top 10, even at the age of 70! Katya Soggott will be running her 3rd Three Peaks; she holds the women’s record.”
The Three Peaks Challenge, held in partnership with K-Way, starts at 5am on Saturday, 1 November 2014. 150 runners will attempt to ascend all three peaks by 7pm – a 14-hour allowance. The course record of 4:50:21 was set by K-Way athlete AJ Calitz in 2012. Spectators are invited to watch the runners from Tafelberg Road, where there is an aid station, or at Greenmarket Square, basecamp for the day. More information can be found on– www.threepeakschallenge.co.za
The untamed wilderness of the Wild Coast in South Africa is the perfect destination for hikers and runners, a paradise for those of you who love to explore natural treasures.This stretch of coastline reaches from the Mtamvuna River in the north to the Great Kei River in the south, offering incredible views and hiking trails: high dunes, cliffs, sheltered bays, wild beaches, ancient forests, hills and valleys.
Wild Coast’s top hiking and running routes
The five-day Wild Coast Meander is the established favourite hiking trail. It covers 56 kilometres of the southern Wild Coast from Kob Inn to Morgan Bay. Local guides and porters from Xhosa communities accompany hikers and carry their bags, so you won’t have a problem on the longer, harder stretches of the trail. Shorter options are available too. You’ll stay at small seaside hotels each night, dining on local seafood and recharging for the next day.
More strenuous but definitely worth the effort, the five-day Wild Coast Hiking Trail goes from Port St Johns to Coffee Bay. Again, the hospitality of local people and the warmth of overnight accommodations will make you feel welcome. Porters are available if you need help.
Another option is the 59km Drifters Wild Coast Trail, along the northern Wild Coast. It explores some of the best known landmarks of the area, as Cathedral Rock and Waterfall Bluff.
The Diaz Cross Trail extends for 80km, from Woody Cape in the Alexandria State Forest, going north via the Diaz Cross and Kenton-on-Sea to the mouth of the Great Fish River. On this trail, you’ll be able to enjoy luxury accommodation each night and porters carrying your bags.
Trail running is another growing activity in South Africa, and the Wild Coast’s varied landscape offers the perfect setting for this outdoor pursuit.
There are different trail running events taking place in the beautiful sceneries of the Wild Coast, like WildRun, a three day, 112km trail running stage race starting at the Great Kei River and finishing at the beautiful Hole-in-the-Wall.
Take a luxurious break from your adventurous along the Wild Coast
As you see, a variety of organised running and hiking events and packages are available, with overnight stops and accommodations from rustic, safari-style experiences, to much more pampered and luxurious in private lodges. Even if you are an adventure-seeker traveler, prefer exploring nature and hike rocky peaks, you might as well treat yourself with a more luxurious stop over the Wild Coast Sun Casino for some gambling excitement. However, before hitting the green table in the Plantation Room, you might as well practice a little bit in order not to lose your money. Online casinos are the solution, as you can play online taking advantage of bonuses and learning tips and trick to bet safely. Plus, there are different online casinos apps now that can be downloaded for the iphone which allow you to practice while you are on the go in a very easy and fun way.
The incredible natural beauty makes the Eastern Cape’s Wild Coast ideal for hiking and running, discovering dramatic landscapes and rocky headlands.
After retaining his title at Red Bull LionHeart on Saturday, K-Way athlete AJ Calitz is ready for this weekend’s 100-kilometre Salomon Skyrun.
On Saturday, Calitz powered up and down Cape Town’s Lion’s Head during the prologue, heats and final to take overall honours – again. Set off in groups, Calitz enjoyed doubling-back on the route for the descent, which gave him a chance to see the gap gained on his rivals. He broke the record that he set last year to record a time of 26:46 for the 3.7-kilometre up-and-down route.
“I prefer working hard up and taking fewer risks down.” he says. “And yes, I pretty much go all out to the top.”
With Skyrun only days away, Calitz doesn’t expect to feel the effects of Red Bull LionHeart in his legs.
“With the amount of mountain training that I do, it shouldn’t affect me,” he says.
Calitz is a Skyrun novice and he goes into this self-supported, mountain ultra not knowing the route; he’s up against runners with experience of the Witteberg mountains.
Although the route is unmarked, competitors may run with GPS units to guide them to the well-known checkpoints at Olympus, Snowden, Avoca (the highest peak at 2,756m), Skidaw and Balloch. As the front runners will be up and over Balloch Wall before sunset, they’ll have the advantage of daylight to navigate the Bridal Pass, which takes them back on to the ridgeline. With more than 70-kilometres covered by this stage, they’ll have less than 30-kilometres to the finish at the Wartrail Country Club.
But there’s also more to the route than just hitting the remote mountain checkpoints and following ridgeline tracks. Some path options are more efficient than others and taking the wrong left or right route around a peak could cost unknowing contenders big chunks of time.
“I’m feeling pretty unprepared as far as the route goes,” Calitz says. “Luckily there are some guys racing who know the route very well so I’ll be hoping to stay with them.”
If Calitz’s race-winning and record-smashing track record is anything to go by, the guys racing would do well to stay with him.
The course record stands at 12h36, which was set in 2012 by Ryan Sandes. He took more than two hours off the previous record, which was set by fellow South African trail runner Iain Don-Wauchope in 2010.
To keep an eye on the race, follow Pure Adventures on Facebook and Twitter (@pureadventures) and also follow K-Way’s Facebook page (/kwaysa) for news of Calitz.
The first South Africa Skymarathon®, which debuts on October 26 at Matroosberg Private Reserve in the Western Cape, has attracted the cream of the crop.
Calitz, a relative newcomer to trail running, has taken the sport by storm with several victories and new records including Puffer, Three Peaks Challenge and the Red Bull Lion Heart. He also triumphed in a 100km trail run in Verdon, in the Provencal district of France and last month finished third in a super strong field at The Otter, finishing inside the existing record.
Included in the chasing pack are SA Ultra Distance Champion and former Puffer winner Nic de Beer, SA trail team member Charl Souma and top local trail specialists, Noel Erntzen, Derrick Baard and Ake Fagereng. Last year’s winner, Michael Owen attempts a repeat.
The women’s event appears no less competitive with some serious talent looking to conquer the tough 36km course. Leading the field will be the experienced Linda Doke, adventure racer and 2013 Bat Run winner Annemien Ganzevoort, and Robyn Kime, 4x Dusi Canoe Champ and a rising star in trail running. Ingrid Peens, last year’s champion, will also line up at the start.
A Skymarathon® is a mountain race with a minimum of 2 000m in total elevation gain and between 30km – 42km over paths, trail, moraine, rock or snow; total asphalt must be less than 15% of the course.
“Skyrunning is hugely popular overseas, particularly in Europe,” says race director Ghaleed Nortje. “The Matroosberg is a perfect venue, with a summit at 2 249m, spectacular views, tough ascents and technical descents.”
Sponsors on board include VIVOBAREFOOT, Adventure Inc, Wintergreen, Protect, K-Way, Red Bull and Bio-oil; but Nortje seeks a title sponsor.
“There are many costs involved for such an event and we consider this is an outstanding opportunity for sponsors to become linked to Skyrunning; the sport, making its debut in Africa, will be massive here.”
The Witzenberg Municipality, in which the run falls, are also excited about the run and have offered full support for the event.
The Skymarathon® is not to be confused with South Africa’s first Ultra Skymarathon, The Lesotho Ultra Trail to be run in Lesotho on November 30.
1. There is something for everyone
Whether you’re looking at entering and finishing your very first SkyMarathon®, or simply want to enter a trail run in the beautiful surroundings of the Matroosberg Private Nature Reserve, the Matroosberg Trail Challenge (MTC) has something for you.
There are three events:
So pick your category and enter now!
2. It’s a gentle transition into sky running
If you’ve never done a sky run before and you’re not sure you’re up for it, the Matroosberg SkyMarathon® is perfect for you. While it obviously abides by the SASA rules of exceeding an altitude of 2000m during the 36km, where the incline exceeds 30% at points and where the climbing difficulty is not more than 11 degrees, it is still a manageable distance for most fit trail runners. It’s perfect to try your legs and lungs out at sky running without committing to an ultra distance. This doesn’t mean you can train less though!
3. It’s just 2.5 hours out of Cape Town
Because of the nature and requirements of sky running – think big mountains – you’d think the venue would be far away and a few days leave would be required to get there. This is not the case as The Matroosberg Private Nature Reserve is situated a mere 180km from the Mother City; about a 2 ½ hour drive.
4. A ticket into Matroosberg Private Nature Reserve
One of the draw cards to trail running is that you get to see South Africa on foot, in a way that few fellow South Africans do. This event is no different. The Matroosberg Private Nature Reserve is situated on a farm about 35km out of Ceres. The farm and reserve play home to the Matroosberg Peak, which is the highest peak in the Boland, and the highest checkpoint on the sky marathon route at an ear popping 2249m altitude. To get an idea of the terrain you’ll be running on and the scenery around you, check out the images at Matroosberg website.
5. It’s perfect training for the Lesotho Ultra Trail, SA’s only Ultra SkyMarathon®
You may have entered the Lesotho Ultra Trail on 30 November already. If you have, then the MTC 36km SkyMarathon® is the perfect training run for the longer event. It will give your lungs and legs a taste of what’s to come.
6. You might get to build a snowman
Late October snow fall on the highest peaks in the Province are not unheard of. Should that happen; you might well find yourself running through snow to get to the summit. Either way the views are spectacular up there, making all the effort more than worthwhile.
A little more interested to enter now? Check out the MTC website for more info and to enter.
See you there.
Article courtesy of MTC
“ALSO, and I think you will love this. I’ve heard of a route up Matroosberg on the South side (De doorns). Much steeper than the 4×4 track on the reserve side.” Ghaleed.
Correct on both accounts. It was definitely steeper and I did love it.
The Hex River Mountains are some of the most spectacular in the Western Cape. They kind of grab you as you exit the Huguenot Tunnel heading north. You can’t take your eyes off them, which is a bit of problem when driving on the N1.
Luckily Ghaleed was driving. Gave me a chance to stare at the dark silhouettes towering above us.
Ghaleed Nortje organises the Matroosberg Trail Challenge, a 36km trail run in the Matroosberg Reserve (There is also a 24km challenge and a 14km option). The event, now in its second year, starts and ends on the northern side of the peak, in the Matroosberg Private Reserve. This year’s event has been awarded official Skymarathon status and will be the first Skymarathon in South Africa. Today, Ghaleed and I were reccing the southern slopes of the Matroosberg; which at 2249m at the peak is the second highest mountain in the Western Cape.
These imposing mountains look inaccessible from the road but the 50km range offers the adventurous hiker a mountain range of opportunities. “The most adventurous mountains in the Western Cape,” said farmer and seasoned mountaineer, Retief Jordaan, owner of Tweespruit Farm. He knows these mountains well, having grown up in the area and hiked many of the routes on offer.
We started our hike on his farm, which sits at the base of the Mountain just outside the town of De doorns. The ascent from the farm starts at about 500m asl as apposed to the 1150m start on the Ceres (northern) side. Retief, who holds the unofficial record of 1 hr 45 min to the peak, says “this is the real route up.” He also said that AJ Callitz, top local trail runner and confirmed entrant for the MTC, is threatening a training visit to the area and that his record may not last long.
Ghaleed and I were not after any records but hoped to make the summit in about 3 – 3 1/2 hours. I wasn’t really taking into account the snowy and icy upper slopes (luckily more snow than ice) and the poor visibility near the top.
Luckily we had Stoffel and Mika, two border collies from the farm, to accompany us. “They know the route,” said Retief. “Just make sure they don’t go down the other side. It’s a bugger to get them back.” Said Christine, Retief’s wife and founder of Hex Valley Down a down products industry she runs from their farm.
Retief at 60 + is lean and fit. He walked us up for an hour or so without breaking sweat and sent us on our way with some route instructions and two energetic dogs. Now I was greatful for the dogs’ company and not for a second did I doubt the dogs’ navigational skills. What I did doubt was their patience to wait for us. I needn’t have.
Much of the route is marked with cairns and because of the low vegetation it’s ok to veer off the path now and again. We continued upwards, skirting the ominous looking gorge below and eventually losing the comfort of the sun as we entered the cloud we had been watching since early morning. We traversed snow covered slopes, skirted or skated small patches of ice and made our way up following the dogs mostly.
Except in the snow, where you can’t see the path or cairns, we weren’t sure if the dogs were choosing the best route for them or us. On a recent trip a group and I turned back before reaching the summit of Seweweekspoort (the highest mountain in the Western Cape) because of iced up rocks, I wasn’t in the mood for a repeat.
No problem; between the dogs and Ghaleed’s tracker app on his Blackberry we safely reached the summit in about five hours. The top was windy and very cold; perfect weather to share a picnic with our trusty companions who didn’t seem fazed by the weather at all.
The dogs lead us down, out the mist and back to the warmer lower slopes, eventually arriving at the farm before dark. We enjoyed a home cooked meal with the very hospitable Jordaans before heading back to Cape Town, large silhouettes towering above us.
The next time I would see that much ice was the following day at about 2100m asl on the upper slopes of Seweweekspoort (SWP). SWP, at 2325m, is the highest mountain in the Western Cape. Only this time it was the steep slopes that were covered in ice and there were no beers in sight.
The upper slopes are all rock and plants with the ice covering making them both beautiful and treacherous. The sun glinting off the icy plants made the scene surreally dreamlike but with the promise of possible nightmares never far away. The ice was courtesy of the previous night’s rain; but despite conditions being like a high altitude ice skating rink, we decided to press on carefully and try reach the summit.
We had worked hard to reach this point and the thought of turning around without seeing the spectacular views promised from the summit was not a pleasant one. Six hours of tough hiking, including an early morning bundu bash through cold and wet fynbos, a minor cat fight with two of our party and hours of uphill slog, albeit it in stunning surroundings, had got us here.
We had set a turn around time of 2pm and as the hour neared Jane was in front. She took one look at the precipitous icy scramble near the top and declared it unsuitable. So we turned around, making one of those tough but important decisions hikers and climbers often need to make when near a summit. The good news is it left us some unfinished business on SWP and we will return. We had ascended up the southern route, a longer but more scenic ascent than the northern approach, which we will attempt next time.
Sleep came easy after a 10 hour day washed down with some cold ones but I was up at 3am for a promised meteor shower. Sure I saw a few shooting stars, not difficult in the dark country skies, but certainly not the 80 a minute we were expecting. Worth a shot but I didn’t get much sleep after that.
A few hours later and five of our original party set out to hike the imposing Towerkop. TK has a cool story attached. Apparently the peak was slashed by a witch who, in a hurry to fly home found a large peak looming before her; she whacked it with her broomstick, splitting it in two. Who were we to argue and it sure was magic up there.
In perfect autumn weather we had made our way up the scenic slopes, quite relieved to find a trail most of the way up. The peak is also one of the highest in the region and we eventually reached our destination, Nel’s Cave, at the base of the famous split peak. Only climbers with equipment can reach the summit so we enjoyed lunch at about 2000m with some of the most spectacular views imaginable before descending via the same route.
This ended a perfect weekend’s hiking in the Klein Swartberg Mountains, which are anything but klein (small). A weekend where we spent almost all of the daylight hours in the mountains. Just the way it should be.
We used Koedoeskloof Country Lodge as our base. The lodge has both camp sites and rooms for those so inclined as well as a cool little restaurant with roaring fire and home cooked meals. Hosts and owners Debra and Eugene made us feel quite at home and the place is perfect to use as a base camp for exploring the magnificent surrounds.