Ryan Sandes completed the “Thirteen Peak Challenge” around the Peninsula in an impressive 15 hours 51 min 48 dec. Photo: Supplied

Just a week after dropping out of a race around Mont Blanc in Europe, South Africa’s most successful ultra-distance trail athlete, Ryan Sandes, has added another ultra-trail achievement to his impressive trail CV back on the familiar mountain trails in Cape Town.

Yesterday Sandes completed the “Thirteen Peak Challenge” around the Peninsula in an impressive 15 hours 51 min 48 dec – an extraordinary achievement by the evergreen world-class athlete.

The thirteen peaks challenge has become the ultimate in trail running challenges in the Cape and takes in thirteen of the toughest, most iconic peaks in the Peninsula over a 100km route.  “The idea came about earlier this year when I jotted down some peaks which I thought would make a nice logical route," explained Sandes.  

“The route has some really key peaks in there," says Ryan. "Peaks I’ve spent a lot of time on. Also, the route lets you experience a lot of the best of the Cape Peninsula on foot."

The challenge starts at Signal Hill, 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, finishing again at Signal Hill.

Sandes and fellow Cape Town trail athlete, Kane Reilly, ran twelve of the peaks earlier this year, but were unable to complete the circuit, being unprepared for night running, leaving the challenge out there for others to take up the gauntlet. 

Several trail athletes have done so, and until yesterday Hout Bay resident, Linda Doke, boasted the fastest solo run in 22 hrs 57 min. But Sandes took care of his unfinished business in no uncertain terms, turning in time few thought was possible.

“I was disappointed that my Ultra-trail Mont Blanc curse continues,” reflected Sandes. “Since my Himalayan adventure last year I’ve been battling with my stomach. I tried a few new things at UTMB last week, where I was racing the 140km “TDS”.  That didn’t work, unfortunately, and I again was forced to drop out.

“After my TDS disappoint at Chamonix I felt like I needed a long run to clear my head. I also wanted to test some nutrition ideas and see the effect on my stomach. Wow what an awesome day it proved to be!

“ I started at 3am and ran solo this time. I ended up just stopping frequently and eating real food. It did get a bit hot and I had a rough patch climbing up to Constantia Berg but after that it was just cruising to the finish.”

IOL Sport