Ultra-trail Cape Town® 100 miles – 24 - 26 November 2023

Understudy: an athlete who ventures into the realm of aiming to complete a 100-mile foot race within a cut off time of 45 hours. I am no hero – my supporters are. I do not own or tame any trail of this distance. Rather, it undermines my next steps. Insidiously. I just attempt to keep moving forward – pressing on, relentlessly, pushing my mind, soul and body into the trail in a way that I never knew existed until I start to become a part of its dust from where I was created, embracing the terrain, its caresses and tributaries, as it forms me, shaping and weaving me into a humble, dependent and thankful person for being able to do this again.

100-mile athlete, take two: a so-called ‘miler’. I had to prove to myself that my first successful 100 mile race in Ultra-trail Drakenberg 100 miles (UTD160) 18 months earlier was not a flash in the pan, once off thing. Also, I just wanted to complete 100-miles in Cape Town! For a repeat of this distance, I almost had to ‘identify’ myself - establish myself as the athlete that I knew God had created me to be – to go beyond limits that make the crazy normal. And make the distance something that is not just elusive, but achievable, again and again…becoming almost all consuming, everyday, in every decision and choice in lifestyle that got me to the start, and then the finish line. And the lifestyle continues even as you read this…forming and ensuring the graces learnt in the miler process…but that’s another Tale.

20231124 165743 UTCT100

Traversing Ultra-trail Cape Town® 100 miles (UTCT) over the iconic Cape Peninsula of the Western Cape of South Africa was simply special. Being in and around my birth city, I knew the grit, hiked its peaks with my family as a young boy growing up, ran on it since school days of barefoot cross country, to carrying my 6 month old first born on my back to Table Mountain's major peaks, as well as traversing the trails in many a trail race as a 20 something year old. In those days the thought of completing one 100-miler was elusive, and crazy. I remember. But now at 40 years old, there was no way I could pass up an opportunity to traverse 100-miles in Cape Town, my second 100-miler on its magnificent Table Mountain, one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature.

9163 20231124 170034 328575319 original UTCT100

Combining the very best and most technical trails, UTCT delivers a somewhat unexpected punch that I am thankful for the lead up to. Fine-tuning the lessons learnt on a successful first attempt of UTD160 in 2022, UTCT 2023 was about the detail, nitty gritty and fine margins that make this traverse a possibility within a 45-hour cut off time and with around 7500 metres / 25 000 feet of accumative ascent. This Tale is about making a repeat a possibility, and making 100-miles more of a norm than an exception - to me anyway. Enjoy! And, of course, enjoy Cape Town - this is to another 100-miles of the ultimate distance in running:

                               With a 17h00 local start time, there was a natural trepidation as to how I would handle being awake for around 60 hours from the morning of the race to cut off time.

20231124 174113 UTCT100

20231124 185932 UTCT100Cape Town Stadium and Table Bay, from Signal Hill.

9163 20231124 183708 328543150 original UTCT100Enjoying the early evening sunset one of two during the first 20 kilometres, between Signal Hill and Lion's Head, behind - Africa's most climbed peak.

Copy of Z.ZINN UTCT 25.11.2023 06868 UTCT100Aid Station Kloof Neck, before heading up and over Table Mountain for the first night (photo credit: Zac Zinn).

Copy of SamClark UTCT 24 11 2023 6833 UTCT100Headlamps on: Platteklip Gorge, 25 kilometres in (photo credit: Sam Clark).

20231124 221919 UTCT100Late night traversing the edge of Table Mountain looking towards Devil's Peak and Cape Town's Southern Suburbs was about tucking in, keeping warm, embracing the pitch blackness in the cloud and dancing over the technical terrain as I started to pick my way through the field of runners to sunrise.

                               Aid Station Hout Bay, 57 kilometres, 13 hours in: UTCT boasts an impressive 12 Aid Stations which most are not only spectator friendly, but also contain most of what one needs nutrition-wise for the event. Specific needs can be met with one's own resources, which was made possible with the help of my supporter team of Lisa, Josiah and Jethro. Personally applicable, and practiced nutrition is a game breaker when it comes to 100-miles.

9163 20231124 082147 328584816 original UTCT100

Above: looking back at Hout Bay and tagged Suther Peak, right, while ascending Blackburn Ravine. Below: the Table Mountain's central section starts to come into view, as is Chapman's Peak, far right, a peak to tag on the second night of the race.

9163 20231124 082219 328584841 original UTCT100

20231125 081954 UTCT100Crossing the Cape Peninsula from its west to eastern side, so False Bay started to come into view.

Copy of K.Trautman UTCT 20231124 7825 UTCT100(Photo credit: Kevin Trautman)

20231125 122631 UTCT100Clencairn, with Simon's Town background, from Elsies Peak.

20231125 141342 UTCT100

Nursing a hamstring tendon injury from a pacers perspective above: between Aid Station Kalk Bay (75 km) and Aid Station Noordhoek (120 km), athletes are allowed pacers on trail to assist with keeping milers awake, provide much needed company and to keep one on track. Lisa provided me with this between Kalk Bay and Simon's Town (96 km), and my brother David, from Simons Town to Noordhoek, below.

20231125 164455 UTCT100Simon's Town, with Table Mountain far left.

20231125 191902 UTCT100Kommejie, with Hout Bay back right.

20231125 194250 UTCT100Second sunset of the race.

Unknown 14 UTCT100The race really started to bite from around 115 kilometres on the long Noordhoek beach, as expected. Knowing an ascent of Chapman's Peak, left, was waiting for me into the second night made it particularily challenging (photo credit: David Beattie).

                               UTCT has 6 cut off times that athletes have to depart by, one of which was at Aid Station Alphen Trail, at 145 kilomters in. Meeting my Dad there early the second morning after a night of a few 5 minute naps enroute was a nice bonus!

9163 20231126 091856 328582619 original UTCT100Hallucination haven: this trail connector between Newlands Contour Path and Littlewort Trail was frequented by me a few times a week in years past, as a trail running playground. Traversing these trails in UTCT was a sweet spot, accumulating in day time hallucinations, shoulders slumped, dragging my feet and physically gaunt - a classic 'low' patch amongst many in 100-mile races.

                               Aid Station University of Cape Town, 158 kilometres in.

9163 20231126 121557 328546402 original UTCT100Heat: embracing the rising morning temperatures on the north facing slopes of Devils Peak, so I made my way down to the finish, with Platteklip Gorge, background.

9163 20231126 130038 328570724 original UTCT100More than that 100-mile feeling: completing 100-miles is an incredible feeling. Completing one in Cape Town is special. Completing one with Josiah and Jethro in hands is indescribable.

9163 20231126 130047 328570763 original UTCT100


Run West Olifants 21 km – 24 September 2023


Subscribe to Tale's via Email