Bernard Rukadza will be defending his TMC title this weekend. Photo: Stephen Granger

Running or walking around prominent mountains has always attracted the adventurous and tomorrow’s circumnavigation around Table Mountain coincides with the world’s biggest trail race – Ultra-trail Mont Blanc, the 170km circuit around western Europe’s highest peak.

The annual Table Mountain Challenge, at 44km is someway short of its European counterpart’s 100 mile circuit, but nonetheless offering a significant challenge to those with the courage to take on the testing route, either solo for the full distance or in teams or two.  Jan van Riebeek School sports grounds below Signal Hill marks the start and finish, with Constantia Nek the half-way mark and change-over point for those running in team relays.

The TMC takes participants to some of the most scenic vistas on the continent along some of the best running-trails in the land, but runners will need to take care to find their footing and the route markers, directing them towards the finish, in particular

- The turn-off to Kasteelspoort along the Pipe Track six kilometres into the race. Runners missing the turn face the prospect of several additional kilometres and a long-winded turn-around

- Unbelievable vistas towards the southern tip of the Peninsula from the Back Table towards Grootkop and Judas Peak, again with several potential missed turns before the descent towards Suikerbossie via Llandudno Ravine and Hout Bay Corner

- Fresh scones and coffee at Suikerbossie Restaurant, but runners looking to finish in good time should avoid this detour!

- Several cross-cutting routes through Orangekloof, where runners should slow to admire some of the remaining remnants of southern tall forest, but not so that they miss the route markers and run additional kilometres

- Constantia Nek and the transition and hand-over point above the popular visitor restaurant and parking area, where runners should again hold their concentration to avoid losing the trail or their running partners

- One of Cape Town’s most popular running tracks along the relatively flat section through Cecilia Forest, above Kirstenbosch and Newlands Forest. Runners should be wary of following in the footsteps of several elite runners in past years, who have ended up in the Kirstebosch Gardens instead of following the contour along and around the mountain

- The Kings Blockhouse, where runners emerge from the forest trails - a suitable place to pay respects to ‘running royalty’ in the former of last year’s winner, Bernard Rukadza, and past Ultra-trail Cape Town champion, Christiaan Greyling, who are expected to contest line honours tomorrow. Greyling’s wife, Landie, is strong favourite in the women’s competition.

- Kloof Nek – the final Park Gateway, and previously the finishing line in the days when the TMC measured just 36km.  Tomorrow runners will continue up towards Signal Hill and descend narrow single track to the finish at Jan Van Riebeek School Sports Fields in De Hoop Avenue and a deserved cold one!


Weekend Argus

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