At 8pm, Friday night we set off to tackle the Double Hout Bay Trail Challenge, an out and back and back and out and clockwise and anticlockwise combination that involved around 80kms of trails on the mountains around Hout Bay.
For those out-of-towners whose only knowledge of Hout Bay is related to fish & chips, our route involved leaving the yacht club in the harbour area, ascending the Vlakkenberg trail on the opposite side of Hout Bay off Chapmans Peak, eventually descending to Constantia Nek where we met our faithful support crew to refuel before setting off up Table Mountain.
We followed the original route, up the back table, past the dams and along the Twelve Apostles past Grootkop. Around 2am, after a near-miss-precipitous-detour towards Hout Bay corner, we descended Llandudno ravine safely, and ran down Suikerbossie back into Hout Bay.
Mike and Chris met us with superb coffee and a good laugh before we set off again up the gruelling ascent of Suther Peak – unanimously voted as the worst of the 6 mountains we would be crossing. Time for a quick nap in the rock-sheltered area at the top, before the glorious descent down into the harbour.
At 5:30am we set off to do the whole lot in reverse, well actually – the normal way – with a 1:30 head-start on the rest of the field that would be passing us as the day went on. A beautiful sunrise from the top of the Karbonkelberg and Suther Peak and some very welcome scones and cream at the Suikerbossie restaurant before the nasty climb up towards Llandudno ravine. Another welcome stop in ‘the lounge’ to get some food down before a friendly greeting from Linda at the dams and enjoying the new route through the arboretum to Nursery ravine. More great support at Constantia Nek before tackling the close-runner-up in the worst*#$*%#hill competition, the Vlakkenberg. And to top it off, a nasty mental battle with the new-route-dogleg thrown in at the manganese mine. Sense of humour failure when you can see the finish and have to start running in the opposite direction. Its a beautiful trail for an evening run, but after 75kms the last thing you want is a scenic detour. Eventually reaching Blackburn ravine we could turn and enjoy that feeling of heading home. The sting in the tail down to East Fort and back up onto Chappies, followed by the final push along Hout Bay beach to the finish line.
Many memorable moments along the way, from the clap-clap signal introduced in the first km (thanks Rob) that saved us from having to mumble in the midnight hours that all was okay, to the magnificent sunrise, to the hot-dogs in ‘the lounge’, and savouring a very memorable and loud applause as the balcony and clubhouse came alive to see us stagger across the finish line 19 and a half hours later. Chatting to runners along the way was a big privilege, from the humble champ Allan who came flying past down Suther Peak in pursuit of victory – and still having time to congratulate us, to Clinton at the end of the day who was just out having fun and enjoying the views, and all the encouragement we received in-between – it was truly amazing and inspiring.
Thanks to Chris and Mike for fantastic support throughout the night and day – your sense of humour and endless supply of coffee got us through the night and into the next day in good spirits. Thanks Rob S and fresh-legs-buffalo-Reis for your company on the V**kenberg, and Pat & Greg for coming out to support at the nek.
And thanks to everyone who contributed to our cause that saw us gather almost R 9000 for the two official race charities, and to everyone for their constant messages of support – getting those throughout the day and night made a huge difference.
And most of all, thanks to the best team anyone could want to run with and be a part of. JT, thanks for the company over a very long day, and huge respect to Rob & Andrew who went through hell a few times over out there. The suffering was evident but you guys pushed on and on past a point that would have seen most throw in the towel a long time ago.
Very proud to have been a part of this journey.