If you need inspiration to run, then there can be no place better than the beckoning bulk of Table Mountain. Its kilometres of paths and jeep tracks beg to be pounded.
Words by Fiona McIntosh
Photographs by Shaen Adey
Siyabona Africa recommended book on Table Mountain:
Table Mountain Activities
Authors: Shaen Adey and Fiona McIntosh.
Copyright © 2004 Struik Publishers Cape Town.
If you need inspiration to run, then there can be no place better than the beckoning bulk of Table Mountain. Its kilometres of paths and jeep tracks beg to be pounded. There are numerous paths suitable for trail-running on the mountains of the Cape Peninsula.
The area also hosts three major trail-running events: the Three Peaks and the Puffer (and variants on this) and the BAT Run. Many of the popular trail-running routes follow the routes described in Ambling and Wandering Along. The best way of getting into trail-running is to hook up with the CRAG (Cape Runners Against Gravity) when they do their weekly trail runs, which are open to all who are interested.
Since this is a loose association of runners, there are no club fees and the only rules applied relate to environmental protection and personal safety. CRAG organises a 90-minute trail run every Wednesday night at beautiful venues all over the Cape Peninsula. But don't be daunted: these are not hard-core, driven runners who will leave you for dead if you can't keep up, but rather a diverse group of people who just want to get out for a bit of exercise in a stunning natural setting.
It's always a good idea to carry water with you on these runs, as 90 minutes is a long time when you're sweating uphill. It's also just as important to follow the group's established tradition of taking along a couple of beers as refreshment at the end - one for you, and one for your buddy.These trail runs take place irrespective of weather conditions, or available light, so runners need a certain amount of foul weather gear and a good torch or headlamp.
Longer trail runs, of anything from three hours to a whole day, are scheduled each weekend, and take place at venues usually within a 100-150km (62-93 mile) radius of Cape Town. Don't be discouraged if you think you are not up to it, as they organise runs to accommodate most abilities. Frequent stops are made to allow backmarkers to catch up, and at every fork in the trail there is always a mandatory regrouping to ensure that backmarkers don't take a wrong turn.
Further details about the CRAG runners are available on their website. Their mottos are 'Scorn tarmac', 'If in doubt - up' and 'If there's a fork in the path, take it'.