Tuesday, May 26, 2009


Acsis VOB Organised Trail Run

We are becoming acutely aware that many participants in the acsis VOB trail runs are completely new to the sport and are in need of some guidance. Trail running is, in several respects, very different to road running. For this reason, it is important to spell certain things out clearly.

First and foremost, what everyone needs to understand about our particular runs is that there is essentially only one person organising, leading and sweeping every run. That would be Tim. He has some great and much appreciated help from time to time from some trusty fellow runners but until such time as there are sufficient people who know the routes and are willing and able to lead separate pace groups, we need to take cognisance of the above fact and work within certain parameters. Whilst we take all reasonable precautions on these runs, you are primarily responsible for your own safety. Please take it seriously and don’t delegate it.

When there is a particularly large group then it is important that all of the runners are looked after and the backmarkers are the most vulnerable. We have to make sure that they get to the end of the course safely (until we can find a suitable candidate to lead a slower group). But we have included hereafter some suggestions as to how the faster runners can deal with this in the meantime.

Also, bear in mind that these runs are longer than the Celtic Thursday Evening Runs and as runs get longer it becomes more difficult to keep people together as we all have our own pace that we like to run at.

But please also note that there will come a time when we will be sufficiently “staffed” to have three separate pace groups. We just don’t know when yet.

Secondly, you will need to do a little preparation for a trail run. It’s not complicated stuff but unfortunately, unlike road running, you can’t simply “rock-up-and-run”:

You need the correct clothing and equipment. This ALWAYS includes:

• Hydration and energy snacks in some form or another;
• Thermal base layers of moisture management clothing;
• A windbreaker (preferably a waterproof top) not for use while running but when you stop for a
rest or are injured;
• Appropriate shoes (some routes can be run in road shoes, some really should be done in trail

Familiarise yourself with the route beforehand and estimate how long you are going to take. This is one of the reasons that we circulate a detailed route description well before the run itself. The other reason is that it helps us work out the route. But at least read and try and understand the route description beforehand. You aren’t expected to remember all of the details but bear in mind that even if you are running with people who know the route, you may get separated from them. It also ensures that you are adequately prepared in terms of food etc.

If you go ahead of the group leader on any organised trail run then make sure that you know where you are going. If you come to a place where you are in ANY doubt, then stop and wait for them to catch up. This is where you put the windbreaker on. If you don’t want to stop then please don’t proceed on guess-work. This is where the trouble starts. Rather “go-back-and-fetch” the slower runners. This is a familiar concept with all forms of training run.

This also applies if you are running in a fast group on an organised trail run. If the fast group drops you and you are at all unsure of the way, then stop and wait for the next group to come through or come back and fetch.

I hope that this helps people understand our constraints and ultimately helps everyone enjoy the acsis VOB runs even more.

Finally, we have listed some general trail running guidelines below, to help you prepare for and enjoy the sport. It’s not exhaustive and if you have some tips we would be more than happy to add them:

General Trail Running Guidelines

Make sure that you are correctly equipped for the run in terms of clothing, especially in cold weather:
- You will need wicking (moisture management), quick dry clothes that keep moisture away
from your body while keeping you warm. Wear layers of clothes.
- Avoid cotton. It gets wet and stays wet keeping you cold.
- Wear a cap or a hat to keep your head warm. You lose most of your body heat through your
- Always carry a good windbreaker (preferably a waterproof jacket) for when you are resting or
- For winter running, many runners like wearing leggings (but if you are “old-school”, don’t even
think about it; its like wearing a Speedo);
- Carry an emergency / space blanket. If you get injured this will keep you very warm until
helps arrives. They are cheap and ultra-light.
- Carrying a basic medical kit can be very useful. Its one of those things that seems to be a hassle
most of the time but you are SO glad to have it with you when you really need it. For the
purposes of the acsis VOB runs, Tim always carries a basic medical kit in his Camelbak, so if
someone injured themselves, find him;
- Carry a whistle for when you are in trouble and need to attract attention.
- Try and wear proper trail running shoes. They really do make a significant difference,
especially with regard to stability and grip. Its money well spent.

Carry enough food and water for MORE time than you are actually going to be out in the mountains in case you become incapacitated.

Try and carry a cell phone (preferably an old one) for that emergency call or just to let people know you’re okay when taking longer than expected.

Always let someone (preferably your emergency contact) know where you are going, when you are starting and how long you are going to be out. Give them the route description.

Try and stay in groups, for safety reasons and try and avoid crime hotspots. Don’t run alone.

Familiarise yourself with the route beforehand and estimate how long you are going to take. Examine a map and route description beforehand if possible; even if you are running with people who know the route because you may get separated from them. It also ensures that you are adequately prepared in terms of food etc.

If you go ahead of the group leader on an organised trail run then make sure that you know where you are going. If you come to a place where you are in ANY doubt, then stop and wait for them to catch up or go back and fetch them.

This also applies if you are running in a fast group on an organised trail run. If the fast group drops you and you are at all unsure of the way, then STOP and wait for the next group to come through. Don’t try and guess.

Carry a form of Identity that can speak for you when you can’t. This should be in the form of a take with vital information (emergency contact number, blood group, allergies, medication etc) which you can wear in bracelet form or attached to the laces of your shoes.

Watch your footing at all times when running. If you want to enjoy the view then stop and look. Otherwise, you will find that you will stop anyway, and not in a nice way.


Congratulations to all those who participated in Comrades over the past weekend . I hope you achieved your personal goals.

And well done to all of those who took part in our trail run on Saturday and successfully found your way back to the start. Quite a challenge. Whilst I think everyone would agree it is a stunning route, it did turn out to be a bit of an administrative nightmare. I have had a bit of a think about what went wrong and I will soon email and post on the blog a set of guidelines which should hopefully go a long way to preventing the fragmentation that we saw on Saturday. At least everyone got home safely and everyone I have spoken to enjoyed their run. And that, after all, is the most important thing.


Claire Ashworth has informed me that: "...........there was a mugging in Silvermine East on Sunday .............. Two men were mugged heading up Ridge Peak. Please be careful when out running and make sure you run with a friend. The incident has been reported to TMNP and the police, fortunately no one was injured just backpacks were pinched.........". So please be careful, everyone, and don't run alone. Tell people where your group is going and when you should be home etc. Your safety is your own responsibility. Please take it very seriously.



We return to Silvermine Dam / Silvermine West / Main Gate.

We are going to start at the Silvermine Dam (the main dam in the West Silvermine Reserve). The first part of the run many of you will be familiar with now as we run down the tar road towards the gate but turn left along the mountain biking jeep track onto the Level 5 road in Tokai Forest. This is a nice easy section to start on and get the legs nicely warmed up. Ignore the first path up to your left and also the road that drops down sharply to the right. Shortly thereafter, keep and eye out for the the Elephant's Eye path on the left. We will turn left (up) onto it and follow it to the first split in the path where we will turn right onto the contour path which we will follow all the way across the Constantia face of Constantiaberg to the tar road at Vlakkenberg which leads up to Mast. At one point we will drop back down onto Level 5 but when this happens, turn left and follow the road until it becomes a path again. Where it turns to path, there is a small intersection. Don't go right and downwards but keep going straight and flat. Eventually we will start to climb some steps and then come out on the tar road that leads up to the Mast on Constantiaberg.

We will start climbing the tar road but once we reach the Nek between the two mountains (Constantiaberg and Vlakkenberg) we will start the descent into Hout Bay via the path (to the right of the tar road) that is used in Leg 3 of the Hout Bay Trail Challenge (which will be coming up soon in July). So this is a little advance practice for that race too. The path is quite clearly visible off to the right just after the road takes a noticeable swing to the left toeards Constantiaberg. We descend along some fantastic single track and pass the Manganese Mine before starting to drop down quite steeply towards Hout Bay (Blackburn Ravine). But this is where we start looking out for the well marked path off to the left. We will follow this path to the left and around into Blackburn Ravine, about 1/2 way up where we join the main path up the ravine from East Fort. We now climb all the way up to the wooden platform/lookout deck at the top. As most of you will know by now, its a steep climb but there are short sections of the climb that are runnable.

From the top of the ravine we follow a level path eastwards to the ring road in Silvermine. We turn left onto the ring road and start the descent to the Dam via the zig-zags. But remember to ignore a road that comes in from the left. This soon becomes a path that leads to the Rangers Fire Watch Hut. At the bottom of the hill just past the zig-zags the road split. Take the right hand fork and then follow the road which then swings off left, past a toilet block and into the car park where we started.


08h15 unfortunately because the reserve gates only open at 08h00.


The Car Park at the Silvermine Dam.


About 15km

There is no Official Short Route but I do have an excellent route in mind if anyone is keen. Please email me beforehand if you want a short route so that I can tell what demand there is. We will need to get a GROUP together.


You can count on AT LEAST 2 hours, depending on how much you walk. 2 1/2 hours to be safe and allow for regroups and rests.


In general - EasyAll the way from the start to the final climb up Blackburn Ravine it is easy stuff and I would say it is 90% runnable.

Blackburn Ravine is murderous if you try and run it but bear in mind that it is actually relatively easy to hike. Little children hike it with ease. So consider it 5% runnable.

Top of Blackburn to the Dam - easy 100% runnable.

  1. Please bring water for this run; enough to see you back up Blackburn Ravine; although there will probably be water on the mountain.
  2. Please dress appropriately; according to the weather conditions. If in any doubt as to what to wear, please email me.
  3. Bring R15 for entrance to Silvermine or a Wild Card. Please also bring a generous tip for the car guard. He sells "peace of mind" while we enjoy our run.
  4. Please watch out for mountain bikers on Level 5 near the beginning and on the ring road towards the end. They are equally entitled to be there and we are in a better position to avoid any clashes.

See you there.

Thursday, May 21, 2009


Just a couple of things before the weekend.


If any of you ran the VWS 10 or 25km Trail races and or The Milkwood 10 or 21km and would like this recorded on the acsis VOB register to put you in line for the New Balance Trail shoe lucky draw then please let me know. Drop me an email and I will update the list.


I am sure everyone one knows about the tragic, fatal attack that took place on a runner on Rosmead avenue earlier this week. One of the aspects that made it even more distressful was that it took hours before they could identify the victim and contact his family. This, once again, raises the aspect of carrying identification of some sort when we run. In a previous email I highlighted this and urged participants to acquire some sort of identification. I have bought a tag from ICE ID ( http://www.iceid.co.za/home.php?xid=dcafabe53efc32a79e6122b26c83758a ). The cost ranges from about R120 - R160 but really, I think its worth the price.

A suggestion that came forward is that if you enter and emergency contact number into your cell phone under ICE (In Case of Emergency) then paramedics will look for it in the event of you being unconscious. The shortcoming of this is that if you are attacked and knocked unconscious, the chances are that your cell phone will be stolen too. They are unlikely to steal a cloth and stainless steel tag around your wrist or attached to your shoe.

Please give some serious thought to this matter.


For those of you who can't get through to Constantia Nek on Saturday morning or who feel like a run through the vineyards instead, please find attached the race flyer for the above event at the Nitida Wine Farm.


" 20 June Greyton MTB Classic & Trail Run
17 October 3 Trail running challenges, Greyton
May & June Tri Challenges
This year, choose to cycle or run through some of the most magnificent farms at the foot of the Sonderend Mountain Range, in the heart of the countryside surrounding Greyton…. only accessible for this event
New venue from previous years,with a trail run and mini fun ride thrown in
Fantastic new routes including pine forest singletrack, spectacular views, cycling through orchards, over dam walls; varied terrain and some great hill climbing .. what more can you want for a great mountain cycle experience?
45km - tough, but not a killer for the ultra fit, with more than 800m of climbing and technical sections, and definitely worth the effort… first half mountain goat heaven and then flattens out and speeds up towards the end.
25km - moderate to tough for a medium distance route, with enough climbs for a really good workout - you'll need some legs for the hills and skills for the downs
10km - family, novices and easy,fun ride
5km - great for beginner cyclists and kiddies
OR RUN the 10km and 5km cycle routes
Tons of fun for the whole family Food stalls, Helderberg Cycle World will be there to assist with bike repairs and lots of great prizes from our sponsors
Only early birds (pre-entries) will receive a GOODIE BAG PLUS stand a chance to win a hamper with a Salomon Hydra Pack, USN Products and Event Sweatshirt
Pre entries close at midnight 18 June 09 PPA easy entry tickets apply
Credit card entries: www.onlines.co.za or EFT payment entries : www.targetevents.co.za
FOR MORE INFO on this event / venue / race times log onto : www.targetevents.co.za
17 October 09 3 trail running challenges (all on the same day at the same venue in Greyton)
32km BUSHMAN BLITZ extreme
an iconic trail challenge in the Western Cape … GREYTON TO MCGREGOR / BOESMANSKLOOF TRAIL Staggering route not to be missed
50 runners, pre entries only (no under 16 yrs)
Back by popular demand : Stunning trail run in the Greyton Nature Reserve. Lots of singletrack through fynbos and proteas. Cool water crossings, breathtaking views and mildly technical with a bit of rock scrambling.
LIMITED ENTRIES ONLY, so don't delay—only pre-entries accepted
More information and entry forms available on www.targetevents.co.za "


With the first trail running workshop for novices being completely sold-out in weeks due to the popularity of the sport, the Sports Science Institute of South Africa, New Balance and CAPESTORM are now bringing you another one. This time it is aimed at those with some trail-running experience who are considering doing longer distances, tougher courses and perhaps multi-stage trail running events.
The workshop will be held at CAPESTORM, Wynberg, Cape Town on Wednesday 5 August 2009. Speakers include our very own Ryan Sandes from Cape Town, who won the Gobi and Sahara Desert Marathons and shows enormous talent; Grattan Rippon (National Sales Manager of New Balance), who recently completed the grueling Marathon des Sables and Prof Andrew Bosch of the UCT Exercise Science and Sports Medicine Unit (ESSM), who will tell us all about fuelling ourselves optimally for these challenging events. Training advice and correct gear will also be discussed – and twice Cape Odyssey winner, Ian Little (Capestorm Marketing Manager), will inform us of some of the key upcoming events in the Western Cape and beyond.
Registration for the workshop kicks off at 18h30. Attendees stand to win excellent prizes from sponsors New Balance, CAPESTORM and the SSISA in the lucky draw. CAPESTORM will be offering a 10% discount on ALL apparel on the night. The workshop fee is R20 per person and a donation will be made to a selected charity. Light snacks and a cash bar will be available at the start. A free wine tasting by master winemaker Pieter Walser will also be a feature of the evening. Book immediately to avoid disappointment by emailing info@capestorm.co.za ."

Thats all for now. See some of you on Saturday.

Monday, May 18, 2009



The re-run of the Old Fishermans Trail Challenge Rehearsal will be on Saturday 6 June 2009. The thinking behind this is that it is still two weeks before the actual race itself, but it is also two weeks after Comrades. So anyone who is doing Comrades but who would like to join us should be sufficiently recovered to consider it. I would like to make the following suggestions though:
  1. That runners start speaking to each other now about organising lifts amongst yourselves between the finish and the start. Organising cars at each end is quite onerous and I don't want to ask the people who volunteered last time to have to step up again. So please start trying to make your own arrangements and let me know if you have a SERIOUS problem.
  2. I would also like to suggest an 08h00 start. This allows far more time for car admin and also means we will definitely start on time. Race day is also a +- 08h00 start so its good practice.

Anyway, there is lots of time to still firm up on these issues. However, let us all pray for good weather in the meantime.


I would like to do this on Saturday 11 July 2009 so pencil that one into your calendar.


The Route

With all this lovely rain about, I have been prompted (thank you Julia P) into thinking about the rivers and waterfalls coming off Table Mountain between Constantia Nek and Devils Peak. So we will be doing an out and back (more or less) along the contour path, starting at Constantia Nek and turning at the gate on the path just below the King's Blockhouse. Because this is a pretty flat, easy course, I will throw in some diversion along the way to hurt the Intermediate Group. So we will start off on the Lower Forestry Road towards Cecilia Forest. Straight after the "Waterfall" we will take the single track up to the Upper Forestry Road. Then at the top of the hill we will take the fast and furious single track back down to the Lower Road again. We then follow that to the top of the hill looking down onto Kirstenbosch. Just before the top of that hill there is a path off to the left. We will take that path back to the Upper Road. The Slower Group, however, will go straight up to the contour path and stay there all the way.

Once we (both groups now) have reached the gum trees on the Contour Path on the border of Kirstenbosch we will then stay on the Contour Path all the way to the turning point. There will be numerous paths off to the right but when in doubt, stay left and follow the signs to Rhodes Memorial. So we will cross Spilhaus Ravine, Nursery Ravine, Skeleton Gorge, Window Gorge, then head up to the stone scree and down the other side again. We then continue past Hiddingh Ravine, Els Ravine, Newlands Ravine, Dark Gorge, as well as the 1st and 2nd Waterfall Ravines on Devils Peak and pop out at the gate (used to be a style) just below the Kings Blockhouse and above Rhodes Memorial. Lots of streams and lots of waterfalls along the way.

The return trip will depend very much on who is running. I would like to descend to the road which is on the Celtic Harriers Plumpudding Hill training run. Then we would follow the road back to Newlands Forest and then onto the Silvertree Trail training run route which would bring us out in Kirstenbosch. From there we would head down to the Klaasens Road gate in Kirstenbosch but just before reaching the gate, we hook a right and follow the Lower Forestry Road back to Constantia Nek. Why I say this depends on who is running is because I have only run each of those beautiful Celtic runs once and am not confident that I will find the route first time. I will need Celtic regulars who know those route well to assist us. If we don't have any of these people with us then we will do the same Contour Path back to Window Gorge, take the steps down to the next road down (the steps we normally walk up when doing our normal route in this area) and essentially do the reverse of that route i.e. follow the road back to Klaasens Road gate (as above).

Starting Point

Constantia Nek Carpark

Starting Time

07h30 - ready to run.


Full Route: Between 20 and 25km depending on the options added. Straight there and back is 20km. We can agree add-ons along the way but we will always stick in groups.
Shorter Routes: Anywhere between 10 and 15kms depending on demand. A nice guaranteed 10km is to start with us at Constantia Nek and then organise someone to fetch you at Rhodes Memorial.

Time Out in the Mountains

Full Route: 2,5 to 3 hours

Shorter Routes: Allow a minimum of 1,5 hours.

Sweat Factor

Mostly easy running. The hills added on at the beginning are optional and there will be a bit of a walk up to the stone scree just after Window Gorge. And then if we do the proposed alternative route on the way back there are some hills on the Silvertree Trail, one exiting Kirstenbosch into Cecilia and then a final one just before the finish on the Lower Forestry Road. I am going to put this at 90% runnable and only the distance which makes it a moderately difficult run.

Special Points

  1. I am going to ask that people make a concerted effort to stay in groups. This is a safety precaution as this area has seen some unpleasant incidents in the past. It should be absolutely fine as there are usually lots of hikers around on a Saturday morning but one can never be too cautious.
  2. Please carry your own food and water. Whilst there are going to be many streams, I would be hesitant to drink from them as there are also lots of walkers and tourists around. These people have needs too and sometimes can't wait until they get home. Hence......nasty bacteria in some of the streams.
  3. Please make sure you are correctly equipped in terms of having the appropriate clothing and gear for the weather conditions. If you are in any doubt then drop me an email.
    Tick the attendance register at the start.
  4. If you bail out early or take a short route, please let me know. Even if it is asking someone to give me a message but preferably send me an sms when you get back to your car to let me know you are safe.
  5. Have fun.

Hope to see lots of you out there on Saturday.


Well that was quite a "weather weekend" wasn't it ?

To kick off with, I would like to apologise for the late arrival of the convoy from Kalk Bay. We got blocked by flooded roads and had to take a serious detour. I am still not sure if there are any folk who arrived and found I wasn't there and went home grumpy. If there are then I apologise sincerely. I was told that there were some people on the Princess Beach Road side of Mariners Wharf who tried to park there and got chased away by the security guards. This is why I suggested parking in the harbour itself. I went in search of this group but found no-one. So either they were not trail runners or they went home in disgust. I really apologise if it was a case of the latter.

Officially the run was called off after I got a call from two runners who got as far as Constantia Nek and reported that conditions were so bad that they were hesitant to drive down into Hout Bay because the road had become a river. I got a lot of sms'es that morning, each with their own subtle and polite way of telling me that they wouldn't be running. But the one that won the prize was "My wife won't let me out in this weather". I laughed all the way to Hout Bay.

I really want to thank all of the people who actually got up in the storm to attempt the run. And especially I would like to thank Fay and Terry who came through to Kalk Bay to help with lifts despite the fact that there was a good chance of them not running (even if the run was on). What excellent spirit ! Thank you.

However, I was determined to get to Hout Bay to make sure that no-one was hanging around waiting for me. As fate would have it, by the time I got to Hout Bay, it had stopped raining and the clouds had lifted a bit. I arrived to find 8 determined, hardy trail runners who couldn't believe I had even thought about cancelling the run. SO, we decided to run the route unofficially anyway. And what a fantastic run it was too. Everyone managed to cross the Disa River and stay dry until we got to Blackburn Ravine where we all got soaked crossing the stream. But it was awesome. A little bit of wind and rain as we crested Blackburn but for the most part the run was dry and at a very comfortable temperature. A little cold going over Ridge Peak but then warm and dry heading down Echo Valley and all the way to the finish.

Because of the unusual circumstances I will definitely try and squeeze in this route again before the event. I will revert in due course.

The route for this coming weekend will follow later today.

Friday, May 15, 2009


I have to stick my neck out at some stage and that time is now.

The run is STILL ON. I know that conditions are not going to be ideal but I also know that some of the most fantastic trail runs I have had have been in the pouring rain. I am sure its not going to be as hectic as everyone is making out.

We have two people just doing Blackburn Ravine and who will then turn to Noordhoek Peak and descend to Chapmans Peak Drive. This is not really a shorter or easier option as you still run about 19kms and you have a technical descent to Chapmans Peak Drive. NOT FOR SISSIES! The only thing it avoids is the drive to and from Kalk Bay.

One (so far) is also doing a shorter route and will start from Silvermine Dam and run with us to Kalk Bay. It would be great if there were any others to keep Fay company until we arrive.

So far I have only had one or two folk emailing me to confirm that they will be sleeping late tomorrow. SO WE ARE GOING TO DO THIS THING. As long as you are properly equipped and then careful on the mountain, this will be exhilarating. Treat it as a "worst case scenario" for conditions on Race Day and try running with all the equipment you will need on the actual race. Remember that officials will check your equipment during the race and you will be disqualified if you don't comply.

Let's see how tough you really are.

See you tomorrow.

Thursday, May 14, 2009


By now most of you will know that there is some fairly extreme weather heading for Cape Town this weekend. It seems that a double cold front will hit us anytime between Friday night and Sunday night bringing strong to gale-force winds and heavy rain at times. If this morning's Cape Times is right then we should be fine as the landfall will only be later in the day. But if WindGURU is right then we will be in for a wet and wild run. Things will certainly get breezy and soggy out there.

But rest assured, at this stage the run is definitely STILL ON. I don't feel that there is any cause for alarm because of the weather, but PLEASE come prepared for some cold, wet weather anyway.
  1. If possible, carry a hydration pack with a good raincoat in (for when you are walking or resting)......just to retain some body warmth.
  2. I would like to encourage everyone who has an emergency / space blanket to please bring it with. If you don't have one then consider buying one. They are not expensive and can save lives. And you will definitely need to be carrying one when competing in longer trail events in future.
  3. Wear proper cold weather clothing, such as wicking, quick dry clothes - thermal base layers. Cotton is very bad in wet weather. Try and avoid it at all cost.
  4. Wear leggings if you feel the cold. Whilst the temperature is not going to be particularly low, the wind chill will definitely drop the temperature a few degrees below those forecast.
  5. A hat / cap is also a good idea as it helps to retain heat lost through the head; which is probably the biggest heat drain in the body.

There is also a slight change to the route that I described in my previous email and that which appears on the blog. The OFTC organisers have confirmed that there was a small error in my chosen route. So for those of you who are using it as a guide to doing your own run or will use it separately either during our run or at any time before the race itself, here is the correction:

Once we cross into Silvermine East and follow the gravel jeep track past the parking area and toilets you keep following the jeep track until the first fork. At the fork, go RIGHT, not left. Here is the quote from the Official 2007 Route Description:

"The jeep track eventually comes to a fork, take the right fork and cross the stream. After the stream take the path on the left, which will take you southeast past Maiden’s peak on your right. ..................................You are now on a gravel path, which will take you back to the jeep track. Turn left onto the jeep track and look out for the path on the right hand side, heading towards Ridge Peak. Take this path up over Ridge Peak and down to the Amphitheatre. "

This, in essence, is just a kink off to the right of the route I described previously. But lets run the proper route.


If you are worried about the level of the the Disa River on Hout Bay Beach then feel free to start your run at the beach car park on the Chapmans Peak Hotel side of the beach (the eastern end). HOWEVER, the main start for most runners will still be in front of the Hout Bay Yacht Club in the harbour. The run along the beach is an important warm-up before hitting Chapmans Peak Drive and the mountain. Also, it gives runners the opportunity of fine-tuning their river crossing technique for race-day. So I would encourage people to start in the harbour.


The question of liability for injuries and accidents and the consequences of these has been raised by the acsis VOB Committee. I really don't want to be a pain in the butt about this but it is only fair to raise this issue now as a disclaimer will appear on the blog and emails in future. Please be aware that trail running is inherently more risky and dangerous than road running (most of the time). You are participating in these runs voluntarily and whilst acsis VOB and the organisers of the runs take all reasonable precautions to ensure runner safety, it can never be fully guaranteed. To this end, acsis VOB and the organisers personally cannot be held liable for claims relating to injuries, disabilities and deaths that may occur during these events. Essentially you are participating entirely at your own risk.

Sorry about ending on such a gloomy note..........so lets go and have some fun on the mountain.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


This coming weekend we have a "high-maintenance" run, meaning lots of organisation and car admin, so please be patient:


Its time to "trip" the full Old Fisherman's Trail Challenge route. The idea of doing it is to give runners a good idea of the course before the race so that firstly, you don't get lost on the day, and secondly, so that you can race it to your full ability on the day. Remember that the whole route can look very different on race day depending on weather conditions so it is wise to familiarise yourself with the route.

This run in no way tries to emulate the event itself. We are not racing. It is a social run. For those of you who have done the race itself, you will know what a wonderful event it is and why people scramble to get entries. The race itself is highly organised and efficient and a lot of fun. This run does not pretend to be anything like that, except for the fun part.


We kick off from the front of the Hout Bay Yacht and head for the beach. We run the length of the beach (one small river-crossing) to the Chapmans Peak end as a nice warm-up and then ascend 1km of tar road up Chapmans Peak Drive. At East Fort we take the path to the left and climb to the path that leads to the Managnese Mine. Instead of turning up the mine we keep to the more obvious road that leads into Blackburn Ravine. Ascend Blackburn Ravine to the wooden lookout deck at the top. There are two places where you can go wrong on this climb (see below). Then take the wide path towards Silvermine i.e. to the right (the left one goes up to the Mast on Constantiaberg). Follow this to the ring road in Silvermine where you turn left and follow it down to the carpark at the Dam. From the carpark you do a little shimmy to the right onto the River Walk which follows the stream under some lovely trees from the Dam almost to the main gate of Silvermine West. As you emerge near the gate turn right and follow the road round to the left, all the while looking for the indistinct path on the left that leads through the bush to Ou Kaapseweg. Please do not damage vegetation at this point.

Cross Ou Kaapseweg with the UTMOST CARE and follow it down to the right to the entrance to Silvermine East on your left. You may well be required to pay an entry fee at this point so keep some money handy (about R10). Wild Cards don't work here. Follow the main gravel road - passing the parking area which will be on your right. Left at the first fork and right at the second. Keep following the gravel road for a while, ignoring all paths leading off it until you have climbed a monster hill and find a path on the right which is clearly marked, inter alia "Amphitheatre". Follow the single track over the koppie and down into the Amphitheatre. You will know why its called the Amphitheatre when you get there. In front of you and to your right you take the path exiting the Amphitheatre to Echo Valley. The important thing now is that you need to be progressing downwards quite steeply. You will be see several paths off to the side but don't be tempted to to branch off to the side or up (like you will really want to....). There is one particular little intersection where the path drops down quite sharply but there is an easy path off to the right. Don't be tempted to go to the right. Go DOWNWARDS towards Kalk Bay. Very soon you will know whether you are on the right track because you will find yourself on boardwalk. If you are not on it within 10 minutes after the Amphitheatre, turn around, retrace your steps and shout and scream for help whilst looking for where you went wrong. The boardwalk can be treacherous, especially when wet, so take care hear. There are also steps on it which are almost invisible as well as low hanging branches. You have been warned !!!!!!

You emerge from the trees and follow the obvious path down a very rocky section to another bushy area with an open ring in the middle. This is Weary Willy's Wait. Again, exit this area in front of you and to your right and head down the steep, stepped section to Boyes Drive. Again be careful on entering Boyes Drive as a lot of cars use it. The pavements are also narrow to non-existent.

Follow Boyes Drive down to your right until you hit the Main Road.

NOW ! This is where we depart from the official OFTC Route. The race route WOULD turn right into the Main Road, crossing to the left hand side when safe to do so. You would follow the Main Road to the first set of traffic lights in Fish Hoek (at the turn to Clovelly Golf Club). You pass over the little bridge over the stream that empties into Fish Hoek Bay, turn immediately left, cross the railway line (again with extreme caution), struggle through the thick sand down onto the beach, turn right and run like hell to the finish at the Fish Hoek Sailing Club. HOWEVER, we will not be covering this last section along the Main Road and the beach.

WE will turn left at the Main Road and run a few hundred meters to The Brass Bell where we will finish, organise lifts back to the start and / or rehydrate with your favourite beverage/s.


07h00 or as close thereto as possible, depending on the car admin. But cars going to Kalk Bay need to be there at 06h20 - see finishing place below.


In front of the Hout Bay Yacht Club. The best parking there is to drive past Mariners Wharf and then turn left into the harbour and park there. It is safer. You may need a few rand entry fee (but doubtful at that time of the morning).


The car park on the Main Road just on the Muizenberg side of The Brass Bell / Kalk Bay Station (on the sea side of the road) where we will leave some cars.


About 21km


Look, its about 21km of Trail so you are going to have to do the maths for your own run according to the Sweat Factor scale below. But count on at least 2 1/2 hours for the faster runners.


From Chapmans Peak Hotel to the top of Blackburn Ravine this is a serious bit of trail and I would give this a 9 out of 10 for difficulty. Not too technical but very steep. Lots of walking with little jogs in between on the flat sections which are few and far between. Perhaps 10% to 20% runnable (excluding the beach which is a piece of cake).

From the top of Blackburn all the way to the waterfall in Silvermine East you have lovely, easily runnable trail and gravel road. There are short sharp hills until Amphitheatre and then its all downhill to the end. I would say 90% runnable.

  1. The run will take place even if its pouring with rain (which seems likely at the moment).
  2. We need cars at the end (see "Finishing Place" above). Please let me know if you can meet me at the carpark just before The Brass Bell at 06h30 on Saturday morning and whether you can give runners lifts back to the start. PLEASE EMAIL ME A.S.A.P. if you can.
  3. Ideally I would like to split into 3 groups: Slow, Intermediate and Faster (NOT FAST). I am looking for people to lead groups, who know the route. Again, ideally I would prefer to lead the intermediate group (+-5.30mpk on road) so I am looking for three volunteers; one Sweeper to bring up the rear of the slower group, one to lead a slow group (6mpk to 6.30mpk on the road), and then one for the faster group (+- 4.45/5mpk on road). This frees me to go back and check on the slower group. ANY VOLUNTEERS ?
  4. You need to carry all your own food and water / drinks.
  5. Remember a good rain jacket (and preferably and emergency/space blanket) if things look miserable. It could save your life.
  6. I will carry a basic medical kit. Can I suggest that as many people as possible run with cell phones and program my cell number in (see below). Call me if you get into distress. Also, try and carry a whistle which you can blow like hell if you get into difficulties.
  7. Please take care not to litter and not to damage the environment whilst out running, especially when you are on single track and particularly in the very eco-sensitive Echo Valley area. Any misdemeanours by us could seriously jeopardise not only the future of the OFTC but also other events like Hout Bay Trail Challenge, The Trail Series and, in fact, trail running as a whole in this area.
  8. Please be very careful when crossing the tar roads: Chapmans Peak Drive, Ou Kaapseweg and Boyes Drive / Main Road.
  9. There are two places on the Blackburn Ravine ascent where you can take a wrong turn: (a) where the contour path goes off to the right. When you start getting into the ravine itself (quite low down) and reach some small wooden steps then watch out for the split. As you reach the watercourse, a very obvious path appears on the other side (the right) of the stream. THIS IS THE WRONG PATH. Rather look out for a less obvious path on your left. That is the way to the top. (b) about 2/3 of the way up there is another split where there is an obious path going off to the left and a less obvious one to the right. You need to go right at this point. If you find yourself going off left for a long way on a level path then you have probably gone off the wrong way. Retrace your steps and you will soon find your error.
  10. Make an effort to stay in groups, or at least to stay in visual contact with someone ahead of you and behind you.
  11. Please tick the attendance register (or fill in your name and contact number if you are not yet on the list) at the start so I can keep tabs on who is still out there and sms me when you have finished so that I can check you all finished.


  1. We will be doing a river crossing on Hout Bay Beach inside the first km of the run. Grant McP tells me its going to be high tide or thereabouts when we cross (thanks for all the info Grant). That fact, together with the possiblity of rain, means that we will not be jumping across the stream like we did last time. We will be wading. In order to avoid doing the rest of the run in soaked shoes or sandy feet, what I have done in the past is carry two big plastic garbage bags (empty, of course) with me to that point. You then slip them over your shoes and legs when you wade the river and then the thrifty can stuff them back in the Camelbak or the wasteful (like me) can dump them in the bins at the far end of the beach.
  2. If you don't feel up to the full run, get someone to drop you at the Silvermine Dam at around 08h15 and join us for the rest of the run - the easier part. You will need either Wild Cards or R15 entry fee for that part of Silvermine though.

Hope to see lots of you out there.