|Race winner William Robinson making the Karbonkelberg descent look easy|
Last Saturday was the 11th running of my favourite local race, the Hout Bay Trail Challenge. What makes it my favourite? That’s easy – it’s special: not only because it’s another reason (if I ever need another reason) to play on the beautiful mountains surrounding the valley of Hout Bay, but because it’s tough, really tough.
Just as running a fast Two Oceans is said to be more punishing than Comrades even though it’s 34km shorter, so the HBTC can be deceiving in its degree of difficulty. After all, it’s only 36km, so what’s the problem..?
Hah! If you ever hear those words said about the HBTC, you know the speaker knows less than nothing about it! Those who’ve tackled the race know that kilometre for kilometre, it’s one of the toughest races on the trail calendar. It’s not called a “challenge” for nothing! Plus this year, as with 2011, race organiser Claire Ashworth decided to spice up the route somewhat… Thankfully though, she chickened out of putting in both additional sections of last year’s race and just opted for one, adding 2.3km to the original route and making it a tidy 38.3km in all.
|click on this map for a closer peak at the route|
The route: Starting and finishing in the Hout Bay harbour, the route covers 2 224m of ascent and, of course, the same again in descent. It has runners slogging up Karbonkelberg, around the front of Klein Leeukoppie, up Llandudno Ravine, across the top section of Separation Buttress, Needle Ravine and Grootkop, past Frustration Buttress, Hawk Ridge and Woody Ravine, taking a right turn before the Valley of Isolation, running past Woodhead Dam, along the base of the Hely Hutchinson Dam wall, and traversing across onto the Smuts Track at Nursery Ravine. Popping onto the jeep track near the Bailiff’s hut and De Villiers dam, runners charge down to Constantia Nek, ready for the final slog – up Vlakkenberg (on race day only the polite leave the “l” in the name), onto the side of Constantiaberg (this stretch of single track makes the Vlakkenberg section worth all the effort – it’s one of the prettiest paths on the peninsula), down past the Manganese Mine to lower East Fort (nasty final click-point), and onto Hout Bay beach for the final stretch to the finish at the yacht club in the harbour.
Race winner William Robinson powered over the finish line in 4:06, smashing the race record (despite the course being 2.3km longer) by 5mins. Landie Visser also finished strong, winning the ladies category in 5:09.
|1st Landie Visser (centre), 2nd, me, and 3rd Melanie Porter (right)|
* photos courtesy of Jacques Marais and Steve Granger