France has the Ultra-Trail Mont Blanc and Japan the Ultra-Trail Mount Fuji. Now South Africa has an event to match.
100km with 4200m elevation gain and a cut-off time of 15 hours, the inaugural Ultra-Trail Cape Town promises to be the most demanding race in South Africa – and possibly, one of the toughest in the world.
The race, which takes place on 25 October 2014, will cover the iconic Cape Town landmarks including Lions Head, Signal Hill, Table Mountain, Houtbay, Llandudno, the Constantia Winelands and Kirstenbosch Nature Reserve.
Ultra-Trail Cape Town and Summit Events founder, Nic Bornman, started planning the event over two years ago while living in Hong Kong. Whilst there he took part in and witnessed massive growth in the city’s vibrant ultra-trail running scene.
“Trail runners are always seeking to cover more distance and to push their endurance levels,” explains Bornman. “As such, we believe that there is increasing emphasis on using trail running as a means of exploring and redefining what is possible for everyday people. Taking into account South Africa’s large community of runners who subscribe to this kind of thinking, there is a gaping hole locally when it comes to a large-scale Ultra-trail running event.”
“Cape Town is consistently voted in the top three global destinations to visit and Table Mountain was recently inaugurated as one of the Natural Seven Wonders of the World, which is why it makes perfect sense to host what is anticipated to be South Africa’s largest Ultra-trail race in the Mother City.”
The event will include three separate races: the 100km ultra-trail, a 62km mountain-trail and a 17km urban-trail. The two longer events have been graded and fully recognised by the International Trail Running Association.
The 62km mountain-trail race is not quite as challenging as the 100km race, but will still be aimed at fit and experienced runners, comfortable spending a significant amount of time on their feet. The route has a 2900m gain and covers the same route as the Ultra-trail, excluding the Houtbay/Llandudno loop.
The 17km urban-trail race has a 900m gain and is a more manageable route, covering some of Cape Town’s best known landmarks such as the Company’s Garden, Greenmarket Square, the Bo-Kaap, Signal Hill, Lions Head and the lower contours of Table Mountain.
The start and finish point for all three races will be at Cape Town High School in the city centre. View the route profiles here.
“Cape Town is one of those unique cities where you cannot divorce the natural landscape from the urban environment,” says Bornman.
“The route therefore weaves together Cape Town’s cultural, social and natural heritage. With the challenge of overcoming obstacles made up of the fabric of Cape Town’s iconic landscape, the stage is set for one of the world’s premier ultra-trails.”
We asked the race organisers the following questions…
WHAT TO EXPECT
All three routes have been designed to include as much variety as possible. Entrants will be exposed to Cape Town’s cultural, social and natural heritage and can expect to run through a number of different private properties and city/national park lands. The climbs happen early on and most distances include some great running stretches where you can make up time. Asides from some beautiful single track and jeep track, runners can look forward to jam-packed aid stations with hot and cold food and drinks!
FINISHED! NOW WHAT?
The finish area is designed to be spectator friendly with live updates of runners out on the route, plenty of seating and food stalls. Every finisher will receive free pizza, beer and other drinks. The organisers encourage the finishers of the shorter routes to stick around to see in the longer route finishers and hope to grow ultra distance trail running in the Cape and South Africa. Stay for post-race entertainment, with a DJ, and a big party!
Pre-entries, available on https://regonline.activeeurope.com/ultratrailcapetown, close Sunday 5 October 2014. Pre-entry only.