With just eight hours left to run, fifty year old Hout Bay ultra-athlete Linda Doke was on track to become the first person to complete the thirteen peaks challenge running solo within 24 hours.
The thirteen peaks challenge has become the ultimate in trail running challenges in the Cape, following trail star Ryan Sandes’ throwing down the gauntlet earlier this year, and takes in thirteen of the toughest, most iconic peaks in the Peninsula over a route in excess of 100km.
“The idea came about when I jotted down some peaks which I thought would make a nice logical route," explained Sandes. "I just wanted to do a good, chilled day out on foot.
“The route made a lot of logical sense with some really key peaks in there," says Ryan. "Peaks I’ve spent a lot of time on. Also the route follows lets you experience a lot of the best of the Cape peninsula on foot."
Sandes jotted down Signal Hill first, then Lions Head, followed by MacLears Beacon, Grootkop, Judas Peak, Klein Leeukop, Suther Peak, Chapman’s Peak, Noordhoek Peak, Muizenberg Peak, Constantiaberg, Klassenkop and Devils Peak. And with the requirement to close the circuit by finishing at Signal Hill, the challenge was born!
“The distance between peaks did not look too far on my sketch and I guesstimated it to be about 55km. I convinced my buddy, Kane Reilly, to join me for this fun day out, exploring the Cape Peninsula on foot. Nineteen hours later, having covered over 100km with 6000 meters of vertical we made it off the mountain.
“But we only summited 12 peaks due to our headlamp batteries dying but we both described the experience as one of the most epic mountain adventures we have been on.”
Since then there have been several attempts on the challenge, with several male athletes completing the circuit within 24 hours, but none running solo. Ian Metcalfe and Martin Crous hold the fastest time to date, having completed the challenge in 19 hours 46 min 8 seconds last month.
But Doke, who has achieved considerable success in ultra-distance trail racing around the world, was determined to make her mark and become the first to run solo in under 24 hours.
She started out on Friday night at 8pm (“I wanted to link it to Women’s Day”, said Doke) and by midday yesterday she had summitted ten peaks, having just conquered Constantiaberg, and seemed well on track to return to Signal Hill by 8pm.