Trail Running in Cape Town

Cape Town is a mecca for adventure activities. The city’s contrasting coastlines, mountainous regions, forests, lakes, and abundant vineyards create the perfect natural landscape for an array of outdoor pursuits. Avid mountain bikers and runners flock to the mother City to explore her rugged terrain, and many international visitors find the huge sports races and events a major drawcard to the city.  The Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon (fondly referred to as the World’s most beautiful marathon), the Cape Town Cycle Tour and the trail runner’s favourite – the Three Peaks Challenge – are just a few examples of the many major races that Cape Town hosts.

Over the past few years, Cape Town’s trail community has grown from strength-to-strength. The sport has become popular across the globe, with runners always seeking a new high (literally). Cape Town’s golden boy, Ryan Sandes, has really put the Mother City on the map in terms of trail running. He’s scooping up awards for stage races and ultra desert marathons, making Cape Town proud with each stride. The peninsula is the perfect training ground for trail running in Cape Town.

Unfortunately running alone on the mountains and forested areas in Cape Town is not safe. There are numerous trail running groups and events that head out on marked routes meandering across peaks, through the vineyards and across tough sandy terrain of beaches. We highly suggest finding a formalised trail group such as the Trail and Tar group runs, or click here to check the trail running calendar for a more fun organised race.

If you’re interested in running up Table Mountain, then we suggest tackling Platteklip Gorge, a popular hiking route. It’s a tough uphill run but well worth the effort.

Jonkershoek Nature Reserve is another place to enjoy a challenging trail run.  The 9,800-hectare reserve has plenty of routes, some of which have waterfalls, and others that head deep into the mountain gorge. Jonkershoek is located in the Stellenbosch Winelands, so timing it with a wine tasting at a neighbouring farm is advisable. The Constantia region is carpeted with vineyards and makes for great trails for the more relaxed trail runner.

But the best trail run? Well, that would have to be the Ultra-trail Cape Town!

Last year one of the world’s most popular ultra trail running events  (Ultra-trail) added Cape Town to its world tour. There are 4 trail races traversing the mountains of the spectacular Cape peninsula, and routes include 100 km, 65 km, 35 km and 21 km of technical terrain. Expect rocky coastlines, mountains and spectacular vistas of the peninsula. This is one of the toughest but most rewarding trails runs – well-deserving of your running bucket list.

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Author: Carolynne Higgins

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