Sunday, April 26, 2015


FKT: Fastest Known Time

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...

Monday, April 20, 2015


Having last run on the track in Noveber 2011 I thought it time...

OK that isn't altogether true, one of my athletes is making a comeback on the track and this was a way I could challenge him to his race...1500m! To even the playing fields he had to beat me by a second for every year I'm older than he is!

warming up on the track

The gun set us off and I let half the field go. Back in 2011 I had started hard and hurt, I wasn't letting that happen again. In the hunt for nothing more than sub 5 min I past the first 100 in about 19 sec so things looked good.

By all means I was only racing the clock, but as I past through 400m (78 sec) James yelled from the side: Why are you so slow, there is a 60 year old ahead of you! (it was a masters meeting) A 76 sec lap took me though 800 and it felt great to be running fast. (That is fast for an old trail runner)  While you can still push a track race is great, I thought I had upped the pace again but instead I had put in another 78. 300m to go and the 60 year old was still ahead, (and James was still yelling at me!) but I was closing... this wasn't for anything but only to keep James quiet... it took a lot but on the final bend I moved past him and sprinted home in 4:46.6.

I must say I'm sorry that was the last race of the season can't wait for October to race again. So is this where my future lies? racing on the track?


Ake was in town for a few days and I joined him and Will for a little at the Nek on Sunday morning...

A little different from tartan track
It was a perfect morning to be outdoor and there is no better place than the mountain for an easy long run...

The view over Constantia
We took Smuts track to Maclears...

That would be the top...
From there we took the face of the mountain to Platterklip!

It took me forever to catch them!
Looking out over cape Town
We didn't descend into the mist looking for the city, but headed back to the Nek through The Valley of the Red Gods...

It was a great morning out, and while I plan to run a couple more track races in the years to come, the mountain will always be my home!

See you on the trails...

Monday, April 13, 2015


With Easter and therefore Oceans part of history there are a couple of things we can do:

1) forget it happened and move on. ..
2) live in the past 
3) hate the past and set about making it your life's work to break it down.
4) know what happened in the past and use it to build a better future. 

I might know what happened,  but I don't know why it happened... So let's tell you my Good Friday Story! 

We were up early and even with the cold winter weather settling it was far from cold. The cold front would only brush the Mother City on Saturday. 

All too soon I found myself on the start line listening to the race briefing. The start was different this year as we set off in the opposite direction!  It was a nice start and I soon found myself setting the pace! 

Maybe I set out a little hard but as they say: Fortune favours the brave...

Look if the big names were not going to take it out I wasn't going to hold back. Up past Rhodes Men and onto the gravel road I lead. I wasn't racing Thabang or Eric (they would fight in out to the finish with Thabang winning by less than a meter!) I was racing Nicholas for the 40+ prise and while the going was good I had to go for it. There were 4 guys just off my pace and we had a gap on the rest of the field. 

Surging for the front at the start of the single track
I had been working hard so I slowed the pace on the next single track but the guys would have none of it and they took control of the race after that.
I wasn't out of it I was still in the pack at on the long climb up to Tafelberg Road it wasn't it the single track that I let them go. As we crossed the road I was all of 10sec back,  and had planned to make my move after the next bend...

So much for my plan, the legs had stopped working and fighting the wind wasn't fun anymore.  I passed 2 caps and a pair of glasses on the path they had been lost to the wind.  I now had sweat and dust in my eyes and in wiping them I lost a contact lens! Not good for trail running. 

Fighting the wind
I took a split to the leaders, they had 30sec on the next 2 and I was 50sec back. Time to up my game and go for 3rd... 

Having rounded Devils Peak it was time to climb to the saddle and close the gap... I didn't! Knowing the rest of the field was chasing I pushed on dropping of the saddle and taking the upper contour back round the mountain. It wasn't easy going for me I wasn't seeing 100% and the legs seemed tired! Then it happened I was caught... no not Nic maybe I still had it I was aiming at the block house then maybe I could get into race mode and keep him at bay. Christian was next catching me in the same place as last year,  and the just before the downhill Nicholas pull up behind me... maybe I should have taken the vertical decent first and put a bit of pressure on him but the race was out of me... 

Yes it's that vertical and Nic is getting away
We were now above Rhodes Men again and while I was running hard someone else caught me... I wasn't letting him past so I pushed on down the single track but once on the gravel road I couldn't hold him back anymore.  

He didn't fly away. .. so on the next climb I took him again through most of Newlands forest this would happen,  it was good to be racing again and not just out for a casual trail run. 

He got away in the last km leave me in 9th (2nd 40+).

Garmin called the race:
With 1500m climb