From Dough to Pro

The popular Hout Bay baker is aiming for a pro running life


Brode Gleason 
Baker, Ultra Trail runner
3rd, Ultra Trail Cape Town 35km 2023

After learning his trade at established bakeries, Brode Gleason got his chance to sell his own creations when a friend, who was selling fresh vegetables informally from his folding chair on the side of Valley Road in Hout Bay, Cape Town, asked him to come and join him. 

Things escalated quickly from there, largely thanks to social media and the clamour from those craving his tasty treats; and now his South Yeaster Bakery in Hout Bay has a cult following – and many of his fans are runners. 

But Gleason doesn’t just sit back after providing carbs to runners; he smashes out some impressive times on the trails himself, and intends to go professional. 

We sat down over a loaf of 100% rye to hear his story. 

Runner’s World: Tell us about the origins of your bakery – and of your running… 

Brode Gleason: Amber (my sister) and I believed that Hout Bay needed a bakery, and that it deserved to be a destination worth visiting. And so South Yeaster Bakery was born.

Running is a practice for me. Similar to baking. It requires patience, respect and kindness. And it’s the perfect fit for a full-time job, as it gives me the confidence that I’m more capable than I think. I use a lot of what I learn from running and apply it to baking, and vice versa. 

I use a lot of what I learn from running and apply it to baking, and vice versa. 

But I wasn’t always a runner. I used to be a semi-professional bodyboarder up, until about 2017, and had my Western Province colours in the junior division. Then work got in the way for a few years. I’m actually quite new to running. 

I started in 2019 – and kind of started backwards, with doing a half marathon on trail and then a full marathon on trail, and then backtracking to eventually running a few 10k road races. Then, last year, I came to the conclusion that I want to chase the dream of becoming a professional in the sport. 

It’s a long way to the top; and coming third male at UTCT 35km 2023 was a very special feeling, as it was the culmination of two years of consistent training. I never expected it though, and I still can’t believe I got to stand on the podium with some great runners.

RW: What’s your style of bread-making and confection creation? 

BG: I would consider it a blend of traditional French and Italian baking, with a New World perspective. 

It’s most definitely an artisanal style, and that’s something we strive for. The difference to the supermarket and stores product is there to experience, in the taste and smell. When it’s handmade with love, care and attention to detail, the taste will always win you over and leave you coming back for more. 

And the smell speaks for itself. I don’t know anything more nostalgic than the smell of fresh bread in the morning! 

Recently I’ve been inspired by Jim Lahey, from Sullivan St. Bakery in New York. I would say we follow Europe and America, as we are always six months behind their trends.

A Day in the Life of a Running Baker
3am Lie awake, listening to the birds
4am Loud alarm indicates it’s time to get up
4:30am Switch on ovens 8am Doors open 9am Make sure everyone’s behaving in the queue
 1:15pm Start frothing for a run 5pm Close up shop and feed the yeast starters for the next day
 5:03pm Head out onto the trails for an hour or two with my girlfriend Sam, and our beloved pointer hound Frank. They’re probably the biggest reason I get to run so much. (Sam Reilly won the Cape Town Trail Marathon in 2023)

RW: Your bakery is now a fixture of Ultra Trail Cape Town… tell us about that, and what it was like running through the aid station space during your impressive UTCT run. 

BG: I remember Stu (McConnachie, UTCT Race Director) always saying to me: “It’s all you, bru!” 

I think I know what he meant. Carbs and running are best friends; and so I knew that having a bakery surrounded by beautiful roads like Chapman’s Peak, and amazing trails – Suther Peak and Constantiaberg – would lead to most of our customers being runners. 

So, let’s just say… it was a natural synergy!

RW: What do you think it is that has people queuing out the door for your bread and confectionery on a Saturday morning? 

BG: Ha ha! We call it the ‘Croissant Theory’. Look it up! (We did.  According to the Wall Street Journal, bakeries have realised that the most delicious croissant is the one you can’t have. A culture has been created around people trekking to a famous store for baked goods, waiting in line, posting a photo of what they managed to get and returning the next time to try something they couldn’t. Customers get used to the fact that they can’t have everything they want whenever they want it.]

RW: Have you sacrificed anything else to follow these two passions, baking and running? 

BG: I don’t believe in sacrificing anything. Or maybe a better way to put it is, consolidate what’s important in your life, how you make a living and what makes you happy, and prioritise getting to the point where those three things happen simultaneously. Sacrificing one for another is a short-term solution.

RW: What exciting plans do you have for your running and your working life? 

BG: I’m planning to run Sierre-Zinal, Switzerland this year, if all goes to plan, which would be my first European race. And then, in terms of work, there’s something called The Clubhouse which is on the horizon. But that’s still under wraps.

Rapid Fire
RW: Croissant or baguette?
BG: Baguette

RW: Choice of running shoes?
BG: adidas Speed Ultra

RW: Sweet or savoury?
BG: Sweet

RW: Your hero baker?
BG: Arnd Erbel. And he visited the bakery last week!

RW: Favourite time of the day?
BG: 3 to 4am. The birds are chirping, but nobody else is awake. 

RW: Best meal not from a bakery?
BG: A Clarke’s cheeseburger, Chips and side salad.

RW: How many baking secrets do you have?
BG: More than Martha Stewart.

RW: If I wasn’t a baker I would…
BG: be a gear editor for Runner’s World! 

RW: Gluten is…
BG: misunderstood.

RW: I would love to travel to…
BG: Sweden to taste their kardemummebullar

RW: Beer or wine?
BG: Wine. Unless it’s an Aegir Project brew.

Instagram @hellobrodebaker @southyeaster 

READ MORE ON: Human Race My Running Life

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