After yesterday’s tempo run, I decided to take an easier, longer run. Coming from relatively flat Johannesburg, racking up a 1400m vertical gain had reeked havoc on my calves and achilles. This gave me another reason to try to do a relaxed run: prevent injury. I sat down the night before and planned a route: it would be a massive 30km around most of Table Mountain. I sat back and looked at the path: this was something I could be proud of.
Due to the excitement of the trail ahead I struggled to sleep, but managed to get a solid 5 or so hours in. For a run that long it was definitely not enough, but what can you do 🙂 I packed, fueled up, packed food for the run and head out just after 6:30. The route planned was as follows: head up through Deer Park on the lower drive to take me below Tafelberg to the Pipe Track. Head along the Pipe Track right until the end and then (somehow) head up to the mountain flat. Once on the flat, head right for a bit then straight down, crossing a small valley and coming around the other side. I would then head back towards the front of Table Mountain through some hilly terrain (to put it mildly) eventually getting to the cable car area. From the cable car, head towards Platteklip, down towards Tafelberg and then straight down through Deer Park back home. I was mentally prepared to tackle the inevitable difficulties.
The first section to the Pipe Track was easy going. During easy runs I keep my heart rate low, so walking up some of the inclines was necessary. Once I hit the pipe track I was in a dream. Clouds completely covered the entire ocean all the way up to the track. Camps Bay and Bakoven were shrouded, and I couldn’t tell if I was at sea level or at 4000m. Lion’s Head peaked out above the cloud line as I left it behind me. I made my way along the track until I reached what looked like some off trail areas. I made my way through passing Woody Ravine and “Dangerous Ascent“, heading up when there was a choice, and found a lesser used path. Carrying along this path it eventually swung around and head straight up, this was Corridor Ravine and I was on track.
On reaching the flat, I ran a bit ahead to find the entire valley covered in cloud. It was such a fantastically beautiful sight, you honestly feel like you are in a totally different world. After admiring the beauty, I followed the directions I had memorised and head away from Cape Town towards Hout Bay. The trail here is easy going, mostly flat and well taken care of. The sheer drops on your right hand side provide some fantastic views as you enjoy your run. I eventually came across two runners and I thought I would ask for directions, just to be safe. On a 30km run you can get very lost. As it turns out, I had missed the turn into the valley and was heading down straight into Hout Bay at the Suikerbossie restaurant. I considered going through to attempt the FKT (Fastest Known Time) route set out by Ryan Sandes, but my body was tired and I would have another day.
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The couple told me that the valley was a protected area, not that accessible and that it would be best to head along the other side of the ridge. I dutifully obeyed, turned around and made my way. I had already been running for around 2h30m, fueling like crazy with the amazing Gu and drinking loads of water. I followed the relevant signs towards Kasteelpoort and Platteklip, and soon found myself in thick uncharted territory. Apparently, I can’t go on a trail without either getting lost or “adventuring“, not that I am complaining. I made my way along this “trail” and found myself faced with incredible views of the edge of Table Mountain and Lion’s Head. Unfortunately though, there was no path so I had back, bundu bashing my way through and eventually finding the main path again with some scratched and bruised legs as souvenirs.
I made my way towards the cable car and the number of people around began to rise. I had just run out of water, having gone through 2 litres (!) already, with a good 10km or so left to run. I ran around the cable car area looking for a tap, but decided I should be fine and didn’t want to add even more distance on. In hindsight, I would have run to the restaurant and filled up there – running and not hydrating is no fun at all. I ran along the face of Table Mountain and made my way back down towards Platteklip. So far the run had been at a really enjoyable easy pace, managing to keep my heart rate nice and low and I was still feeling strong.
As I started my descent down Platteklip I picked up some pace. I then decided I liked the fast pace down the gorge and picked it up more and more until I was basically sprinting down. This was loads of fun, but it was also incredibly tiring. After doing this for a while and realising that Platteklip was way longer than I remember it being, I slowed down slightly and tried to get my breath back. Eventually I was on Tafelberg road, now completely knackered from the sustained high intensity, and incredibly thirsty. I could see my house so I pushed through and carried on making my way back down into Deer Park.
I soon learned that 4h30m running + dehydration + high intensity sprinting = muscle cramps, the type you get from endurance sports. If you have ever had these, they are no fun at all. I thought to myself that if anyone saw me now they would see a broken man. I basically hobbled-ran back to the park, saw the most inviting grass and sat down. Elbows on knees I silently wept, gathered my strength and head back home. This was an immensely tough run, but incredibly invigorating at the same time. I tried to offset the coming muscle soreness by having electrolytes and eating a week’s worth of food. The rest of my time would be spent gazing through pictures, eating and sleeping, and planning the next big run 🙂
Vertical gain: 1760m