Table Mountain Contour Path (north face - above city bowl).
We will start at the Lower Cable Station on Tafelberg Road. From the cable station we head back along the tar road for a few hundred metres until we get to the path that leads up the start of Kloof Corner Ridge. We will follow this up to the contour path. Once we hit the contour path we proceed as before past the beginning of the India-Venster Ascent, and we will enjoy kilometres of easy single track running across the north face of Table Mountain. The first section is quite stony underfoot so trail shoes are a distinct advantage (although not strictly necessary). We cut across the base of India Ravine, Africa Ravine, Platteklip Gorge and The Saddle between TM and Devils Peak. From this point we start climbing gently around Devils Peak and over Oppelskop Ridge. Once over this Ridge we descent quickly towards Tafelberg Road but before getting to it we will resume running along the contour path (which branches off to the right) and have some more easy, comfortable path which comes out at The Kings Blockhouse, which will be a familiar to anyone who has run (Table Mountain Challenge) or mountain biked in this area.
This is where long route runners need to select and option:
Option 1: Turn at Kings Blockhouse, run about 1km back along the contour path and then descend onto Tafelberg Road for a nice easy 5km tar run back to the start; or
Option 2: Follow the gravel road down from the Blockhouse towards town, and descend that terrible hill that you have to run up on Leg 1 of Table Mountain Challenge. Then there is the somewhat daunting task of getting back up to Tafelberg Road. We will follow the Leg 1 route (in reverse) until the big intersection just before the river crossing. Here we will cut up left and follow the route which is taken by the VWS Trail Challenge (10km route) and we will pop out on Tafelberg Road at the big pine tree on the road at Platteklip Gorge. From here it is a 2km tar run back to the cars.
If you do the full run:
Option 1: About 15km in total (including the tar).
Option 2: About 16km in total (15,9km as measured last time on Garmin 305). The distance isn't much further but there is a long tough hill in it (see the attached elevation chart between kms 11 and 14).
However, there are a number of escape routes along the way for those who would like a shorter run or for the slower runners who want to finish at the same time as the others:
- At Platteklip Gorge on the way out (this gives you about a 5km run);
- At The Saddle (this gives you about a 6 / 7km run); or
- After the descent on the far side of Oppelskop Ridge near the end of Tafelberg Road (this will
give you about a 10km run).
All escapes give you a short descent onto Tafelberg Road and an easy run along the tar back to the start.
For the full route,
Option 1: allow for a comfortable 1h 45 - 2 hour run.
Option 2: allow for 2h15 - 2h30 (including stops - it took us 1h 51min last time but I stopped my watch at the rest stops).
07h00 ready to run.
Option 1: Easy - 98% Runnable
Option 2: Moderate. Although it is mostly runnable there are some tough hills down in Deer Park that will surely make your legs burn.
Getting to the Start:
Once you drive to the top of Kloof Nek, take the road that leads up to the Lower Cable Station which is about 1,5km up this road. I would recommend pulling over on the left just before you get to the cable station and parking there. But be aware of the taxi rank. Do not park in taxi bays as even these taxi drivers are quite excitable and you could well find your car further down the slope in Deer Park than you would like on your return. But otherwise there are normally car guards all over the place so please remember to bring a tip for the guards. We will gather outside the cableway ticket sales office.
- Bring water with you as there is very little chance of any of the streams running at this time of year and anyway, drinking from the streams in this area is not recommended.
- Be aware of snakes, particularly the front runners. A good friend of mine had a close call with a large puffadder on the Pipe Track over the weekend. Contrary to popular belief, snakes in the Western Cape DO NOT hibernate in the winter, they are just less active.
- A reminder to the faster runners: on the way out along the contour path, after you have passed through Platteklip Gorge, you will run under a bit of a rock overhang and then the path splits. You will need to take the left path. You will be so glad you did. It appears to go down but this is not for long. The right hand path seems like the obvious choice but it soon climbs sharply, doubles back and then starts heading up the Saddle.
- Please tick the Attendance Sheet.
Hope to see you out there.
Good luck to all those running the SAD and even more so to those running the VWS Trail Challenge on Sunday 3 May 2009 - see you there..........