On 10 December a small group of ultra-distance trail runners set off at 4am on a mission to conquer the third 100km Ultra Trail Cape Town (UTCT 100) in the Table Mountain series.
Two men chose to dedicate their effort to NSRI. Rieghard Janse van Rensburg is an NSRI volunteer who in 2010 turned his life and health around by taking up running – he dedicated his run to his crew at Station 37 Jeffrey’s Bay. Henri van Schaik (from Somerset West) is an NSRI supporter and donor – he dedicated his run to the crew at Station 9 Gordons Bay.
The route is extremely challenging, and while there are specific refuel stations – the run is through mountainous terrain and there are few spectators and supporters.
The route is described as follows: “The 100km Ultra-trail is a front loaded route with two major climbs on Table Mountain and the remote trails of Karbonkelberg within the first 50km. The second half, while equal in elevation gain, consists of more sustained gradients.
The race starts at 4am with an ascent out of the city to Signal Hill and around Lions Head, which captures the sights of the Atlantic Seaboard at first light. With the sun rising runners climb midway up Table Mountain’s north face and run a contour to Platteklip Gorge, the longest vertical ascent of the race- a notorious route with gradients exceeding 35 degrees, up Table Mountain. The climb is a long grind and loads the legs very early on in the race- after 15km an elevation of 1500m will have been covered.
Reaching the top you run the famous table top ridge with Cape Town at your feet. Traversing Table Mountain happens 10km later, with an 800m descent. From here the route flattens through Orangekloof to Llandudno(A4- 36km) and along the remote scenic coastal stretches to Oude Schip. The second of the two steep climbs is the 600m Suther Peak and a traverse of Karbonkelberg to Hout Bay- (A5- 50km). This part of the race either makes or breaks it for the runners- with temperatures on the rise and a scramble up this remote stretch being particularly exhausting.
The second half from Hout Bay moves toward the historical Constantia Winelands- a ‘flat’ run through the valley where runners reach Groot Constantia (A7- 64km) with vineyards and city greenbelts making up the next 10km.
Runners then depart the city slopes back for Table Mountain at Alphen Trail(A8-79km) where they climb through the technical sections of Cecilia- and Newlands forests followed by a steep drop down into the University of Cape Town’s upper campus(A9-89km). The final 10km, often into a strong headwind (the infamous ‘Cape Doctor’), requires digging deep with an intense climb to get up to the Blockhouse and lower traverse of Devils Peak. Reaching it marks the home stretch, with the reward of incredible views of the City, the Atlantic Ocean, Table Mountain and Lions Head.
Running here above the City Bowl gives runners a moment to reflect, by retracing their footsteps along these famous landmarks covered in the morning.”
NSRI CEO, Dr Cleeve Robertson, cheered the runners on at Hout Bay and Head of Fundraising and Marketing, Meriel Bartlett, set up camp and waited for the runners at the 90km mark at UCT. They were both tired and sore but had formed a special bond and friendship after Henri spotted Rieghard in his branded kit at the 40km mark. Henri had broken his toe 30km into the race but kept strong and pushed through, Rieghard’s legs were still tired from The Sky Run 3 weeks previously. As darkness started to fall they left for the final 2 hours and 10km to the finish.
Both crossed the finish line after running just shy of 17 hours. Henri describes it as “the toughest race I have ever run”.
On his fundraising campaign page Henri said: “Many things can go wrong on such a long run but these aches, cramps and bruises cannot compare to the things that can go wrong when NSRI volunteers set out to rescue people in distress along our coastline! Our contribution can help acquire equipment, supplies and training for the NSRI volunteers to do their work better prepared and under safer conditions.”
Thank you Henri and Rieghard for your commitment – for raising money for us, for dedicating your race to us and for seeing it through. We salute you.