The Hout Bay Triple Trouble has been trouble for me since its second running in 2006, but now, having recently completed my third, I can safely say its right up there as one of my favourite runs on the trail calendar – despite the tar sections between each peak.
Started by Eric Tollner in 2005 as a training run for the more established Three Peaks Challenge, it has developed into a very special, albeit low key, event. The run starts at the Chapman’s Peak Hotel in Hout Bay and takes in Suther Peak, Judas Peak, via Llandadno Ravine, and Chapman’s Peak, returning to the hotel after each peak. The field is small, 30 runners, and friendly, with just a few speedsters chasing records and the win. The rest of us like to take our time (often more through necessity than choice), smell the flowers, enjoy the views and camaraderie and revel in a day out on the spectacular Hout Bay mountains.
My troubles started at my first attempt in 2006. I somehow managed to get lost descending Judas Peak in the mist, wandered about the top for an hour looking for the path down before finding my own, not very safe descent and traversing back to Llandadno Ravine. After my not so kosher experience I declined the 3rd peak leaving me with unfinished business which I planned to put right the next year. 2007 arrived and I entered early. But the year was a hectic one, with numerous moves and the birth of my son, and came Triple Trouble time, I was pretty exhausted the night before. I woke up at 4am, confirmed what I already knew and sent a text message to Eric, bailing before even putting on my running shoes. I managed to get there to take some pics on the third peak and once again vowed to be back the next year.
2008 and I was the first to enter, but then realised it clashed with my holiday plans so was first out as well. My holiday plans changed and I again landed up on Chappies taking pics.
2009 and finally I got to experience the triple in all its glory. The morning started with a scooter ride from Sea Point to the start with a large orange moon hanging lazily over the glassy sea, the day was already perfect and it was only 5.30am.
After my experience in 2006 I was determined not to get lost this year, but it didn’t take me long. After tagging Suther Peak, I led Brenda, my running partner for the day, down the garden path and landed up with a fabulous viewpoint but sheer drops everywhere. We backtracked and made our way safely down, finding ourselves at the back of the field but in no hurry.
The second peak was stunning; fynbos as far as the eye can see, clear skies with views to everywhere and Mediterranean-like turquoise seas below. The South Easter that had howled the week prior to the run had cleaned up the air and sea for the day.
We finished at the tail end of the field – hot and happy after 10 hours + of beautiful weather and stunning mountains – finally I was on the board.
2010 saw me run the entire route with Michael and Douglas, and various others along the way. With cooler weather and stronger legs we finished in just over 7 ½ hours. Almost 3 hours behind the winner, a certain Ryan Sandes, who seemed to cruise the route but still broke the record finishing in a fast 4.48 and some change.
This year was similar – cool weather and Michael and Douglas again keeping me entertained as we as toured Hout Bay the way very few people ever do. The colourful flowers on the first peak, again the fynbos on the second and whales in the bay on the third made for another memorable trip. While we weren’t racing we realised at the top of Chappies that if we motored we might just break 7 hours. When we hit the tar for the 4km downhill dash to the cold beers – it was still on. But as we neared the finish – about 500m near – Michael started to cramp and stopped to get himself right. Douglas and I had a brief discussion, wait and risk not reaching our sub 7-hour target – or leave Mike, finish under 7 hours and face his wrath. We chose “glory” over sentiment and finished in 6.58.10. Mike, to his credit, finished a minute later also breaking the 7 hour mark and not letting us forget for a minute that we ditched him 500m from home after running together the entire day. Sorry Mike!
At the front of the field Rupert Becker proved you don’t need sponsors and financial incentives to break records (although that would be nice) – just enormous talent and a great attitude – he shaved 1.14 off Ryan’s time – smiling all the way to the finish.