Running on the Cape Sky, South Africa
Petrus Oosthuizen, March 17, 2015
When a friend suggested we go ‘skyrunning’ in the Cape over the weekend I become slightly apprehensive. Think about it: climb up a mountain, run on top of it and find your own trails before scaling descents on rock faces to return to your start point. I usually take moderate routes, staying on marked trails below ridges and peaks. But after my first skyrunning outing this weekend, I can testify: the thrill of running on the top of the South Africa’s peninusula is your bipedal version of flying.
Kept alive through the annual Salomon Sky Run just outside Bloemfontein, sky running takes the centre stage each year in the middle of the South African interior. The race pushes runners on a 100km journey through challenging terrain, summiting numerous mountaintops and running on ridges that requiring some serious balancing and technique. A little closer to my own backyard, the Cape-area presents miles of terrain which offer similar thrills.
As previously featured, the Jonkershoek Nature Reserve is a mecca for any outdoor enthusiast. Most of the action happens down in the valley where mountain bikers and runners enjoy a myriad of trails and jeep tracks. Looking up from the bottom of the valley, you can see the many famous mountaintops which are climbed by local hikers every day. The beauty of trail running in this areas is that it gives you access to the entire mountain, taking you away from mountain bike trails and the gentler ascents toed by hikers. Risking all, I took out to take on one of the so-called ‘climb only’ parts of this patch of earth.
A sunny Sunday morning in Stellenbosch was the setting. Botmaskop-mountain to ‘Saaltjie’ (translated The Saddle) was the goal. This part of the Stellenbosch mountains forms part of the Jonkershoek Marathon, which is a daunting challenge that takes the hiker/runner around the Jonkershoek Valley in a clockwise direction. Starting at Botmaskop and ending on top of the Stellenbosch-side mountain, this unofficial race sets a runner on a journey through treacherous terrain. Come prepared – trails are not marked, and through most of this adventure you will have to find your own way. It is also important to know that this sky-marathon is recommended for the fitter athlete only.
One of the newly voted 7 natural wonders of the world, Table Mountain, offers more than just a wondrous flat top panorama. The trails on the summit allows the runner to go right to the edge of the Table. The mountain, within a couple of miles of any point in the city, is your easy-to-access urban oasis. For more, read my blog that routes a full circumnavigation of Table Mountain.