If you’ve read Christopher McDougall’s Born to Run (and you should) then you will know that trail running may just be the ‘original’ sport. ‘Way before we were scratching pictures on caves or beating rhythms on hollow trees,’ McDougall muses; ‘we were perfecting the art of combining our breath and mind and muscles into fluid self-propulsion over wild terrain.’
Judging by trail running’s boom in the last decade, humans are going back to their roots. In South Africa, we are fortunate to have some amazing trails very close to most of the major centres. The Mother City, however, is arguably the best city in which to be a trail runner, not just for its amazing variety of trail running routes to suit all skill and fitness levels, but for the range of other adventure activities on offer within easy day-trip range.
Here, in no particular order, are a half-dozen activities to make a weekend adventure of it. Not only will they spike the adrenaline levels but offer some great cross-training too
GO FOR A GUIDED OCEAN PADDLE
Cross-training value: Paddling offers a good upper body and core-strength workout which will help improve your stability for trail running. Not to mention the extra cardio work you’ll be putting in.
Cool trail nearby: Silvermine offers a variety of trail running routes for all skill and fitness levels.
Step out of your comfort zone and experience False Bay from a kayak. Take a paddle from Simon’s Town past its historic harbour to Boulders Beach to see the famous penguin colony. No experience is required and you’re bound to encounter various other sea creatures along the way. gravity.co.za
JUMP OFF THE ROCKS
Cross-training value: Launching off the rocks will help build strength in your quads which will add that explosive kick to your trail running.
Cool trail nearby:
Coasteering is an exhilarating mix of kloofing, swimming and rock jumping. With a bit of rock scrambling thrown in…You need no prior experience and all equipment is supplied for this adventure in False Bay’s intertidal zone. There are several rock jumps up to 10-metres high (tide-dependent) but none of these is compulsory. Get in touch with the highly experienced crew at gravity.co.za
CAST DRY FLIES TO WILD TROUT
Cross-training value: Wading the freestone rivers of the Western Cape requires a lot of balance, which will no doubt help you to run more technical trails and thread those rocky ridge lines.
Cool trail nearby: Du Toit’s Kloof Wine Farm has some great MTB and trail-running routes.
For Western Cape trout you need not look much further than Du Toit’s Kloof and its freestone streams. Hollowed streams such as the Elandspad, Smallblaar and Holsloot (which are controlled by the Cape Piscatorial Society) offer some of the finest dry-fly fishing for wild trout in the country. The streams are all shallow, gin-clear, fast-flowing and often less than a handful of metres wide across. It’s technical fishing, but under the right guidance, you’re bound to have a great day out. Get in touch with the team at Upstream Flyfishing to book a day on the streams.
TOAST YOUR TRAIL RUN AT A MICROBREWERY
Cross-training value: Let’s chalk it up to a recovery drink and carbo-loading. No, in all seriousness, according to certain studies: ‘beer has nutritional value, more than most alcoholic beverages, as a source of carbohydrates and nutrients.’
Cool trail nearby: The ‘Adder Ladder’ on Platberg is a long and technical loop for experienced runners on. This 15.3-km loop trail features some serious climbing but the views over Walker Bay are well worth the effort.
Micro-brewed beers are known for their fine dry ingredients but the liquid base is not all-too-often celebrated. It’s been said that Stanford (some 30 kilometres east of Hermanus) boasts some of the purest spring water anywhere, making it ideal for beer brewing. Birkenhead Estate in Stanford produces a range of beers and a brewery tour is well worth your time. www.birkenhead.co.za
Cross-training value: Sandboarding is a great core-strength workout which will help improve your stability on the trails. Then, the inevitable slog back up the dune will make for a solid cardio workout.
Cool trail nearby: Run the dunes!
It may be viewed as the proverbial ‘poorer cousin,’ but trust us, sandboarding can be every bit as fast and exhilarating as surfing or snowboarding. Some of the finest riding in the country is the Atlantis Dunes near Cape Town. www.downhilladventures.com
LEARN TO KITESURF
Cross-training value: Much like sandboarding, kitesurfing requires a lot of core strength.
Cool trail nearby: The West Coast National Park offers a range of trails for all levels of trail runners.
Clear, shallow water and consistent wind make Langebaan Lagoon – about an hour up the coast from Cape Town – the ideal place to learn to kitesurf. Cape Sports Centre is, well, the centre of the kiting universe when it comes to coaching and equipment hire. www.capesport.co.za
Plan your trail running time and work in a few of these adventures to make for an action-packed Western Cape weekend. If you’re for more Micro Adventures in the Western Cape, navigate here.