OK so I'm a little competitive, but who isn't... I can remember back when I was only "knee high to a grasshopper" saying to my mom, who was in the kitchen cooking for us 5 kids: "Time me I'm running round the house..." I can't remember what the FKT around the house was, but it will stand forever as the house now has fences and gates!
One of Cape Town's top trail runner, Ryan Sandes, is alway looking at staying at the top of his game and also looking for ways at exciting other trail runners at pushing themselves (Not that this is really needed in Cape Town). With 2 well known FKT's to his name, the Fish River Canyon in 6h57 and the Drakensberg Grand Traverse, with Ryno Griesel, 41h49. Now most people can't just pop out and do one of those routes, specially us guys in Cape Town, so he thought: How about one in our backyard, we do have this mountain most of us play on week in and week out...
After a couple of rekkie runs he sets off from Suikerbossie restaurant and 2h02 later he ends at Kloof Nek car park... The challenge was set!
It didn't take long for the local trail runners to take up the challenge, and times started appearing on the Red Bull leader board. Now having run on almost every path on the mountain I looked at the route and decide that while Ryan's time might be out of my reach I could get close to 2h10.
A number of friends have run and normally working in pairs they have a car at the end, but I have no such plan and on a Saturday morning I park my car outside the restaurant.
While it's a hard way to race, it's fun to stand there and say to yourself: Let's do this. I hit the start button and it's me alone racing the clock. Having run the first section in a race I know what time I hope to get up Llandudno corner in and 26:40 to the old fence is good enough. I had taken it easy and now I hoped to use the saved energy to take on the Twelve Apostles. I feel I'm running well, and it's the perfect morning to be on the mountain. I'm not the only guy racing the clock... as I passed a couple of other runners.
With Kasteels in sight I take my next split, at the turning to the dams, 68:10. The Valley of the Red Gods takes us to Platteklip, I love this leg through one of the most spectacular trails on the mountain. I pass another group of FKT'ers and one of my UCT athletes, Nic is with them, they cheer me on as I climb out of sight.
25:45 (1h33:55) at the top of Platteklip, no time to stop and chat to the hikers as it downhill from here and the clock isn't stopping! The hikers look on in amazement as I bounce down the gorge. I haven't descended that well in years and while I know it isn't fast my legs feel good as I turn onto the contour path 16:24. The next group of runners include my friend Mark, they've just been running on the face of the mountain and are heading down the same way as me. Mark cheers me on and then tucks in behind me to push me to the end. I almost overshoot the turn down Kloof corner, 10:39...
Careful guys we're coming through I shouted, politely, as I race down the stairs to the road. (5:17) Now I really should have swung a left over the bank and taken a short cut to the finish, the visitors centre in the car park, but I stayed on the road, 2:19... to finish with a time of 2h08:35.
With only Ryan's time faster I was happy with my effort and set off on the road (11.5km) back to the car.
The story doesn't end there. ..
The happiness didn't last... that evening I read on Facebook that Martin had popped out at 16h00 and racing the setting sun had beaten the clock 1h59:56...
Now remember I told you I had a competitive side... well I can, and have beaten Martin in most of the races the two of us have lined up together so his time of sub 2 kept me awake all night tossing in my bed thinking about getting out there and running my own sub 2!
After Church I checked out his (and Ryan's) times and runs on Strava... oh boy this told me lots! I had taken the first section to easy they had run that climb over 2 min faster 24:00 up their Twelve Apostles crossing was 3 min faster. I was already 5 minutes off the pace. Surprisingly I pulled 60sec back through the Valley of the Red Gods.
Only a couple of seconds had separated them at the top of Platteklip, but Martin. .. WOW he had thrown caution to the wind and 11mins later he was on the contour path! (I could never match that but I could get to the top faster than he did... or could I?)
Sunday's weather was perfect and I still needed to run, so that afternoon I headed out for a 2nd crack at the FKT!
This time I wasn't only racing the clock but also the setting sun..
I went for it from the start hitting that first climb a lot harder than the day before! 25:30, still off the pace but better.
Ahead lay the Twelve Apostles and I kept pushing looking for a second here and second there... 65:00 at the next split, still over 2 minutes off the pace. I was shattered and there was no way I could keep it up so I stopped... (don't try racing two days in a row, there is a good chance your legs won't like it!).
From the top of Kasteels I called Dawn to tell her the changed plans, and she drove through to pick me up and to see the setting sun..
|Top of Kastels|
I'll be back later in the year, maybe not to break 2 hours, but to get to Platteklip on time...