1. The first race on my list is the Otter African Trail Run (42 kilometres). This iconic race along the Garden Route has some of the best trails anywhere in the world. You run along the rocky ragged coastline and the race offers up some perfect coastal single-track. It really is perfect…but also brutal.
2. Next on the list is the Table Mountain Challenge (also 42 kilometres). This loop around Table Mountain is a lot tougher than everyone thinks!
3. An even tougher mountain trail is the Cederberg Traverse – 100 kilomeres of running in the Cederberg mountains. You really feel completely isolated when you run in these wild, big mountains. It’s an unmarked course along great trails through perfect orange sandstone formations with a proper wilderness element.
4. Finally, this list wouldn’t be complete without Cape Town’s classic ultra marathon, The PUFfeR (80 kilometres). You run the length of the peninsula over Table Mountain. No need to say anything more.
These days I don’t race too much; instead, I look for runs that are wild and inspire me. I prefer to run in the autumn and winter months when the weather is challenging — it makes for a full adventure and adds to the experience of being out on the mountain.
I try to carry as little as possible with me. I drink from the water on the mountain and carry a little food if I am out on a longer run. It just feels so much better not to be running with gear and junk weighing you down! But for long runs and in the winter I carry a lightweight wind shell — my favourite is the Salomon fastwing jacket — and a small headlamp. In summer, if it’s very hot and there is little water on the mountain, then some water and electrolyte tablets are essential.
Always remember that mountain trails are wild areas, and you are responsible for yourself and your safety. Take into account how familiar you are with the area and how comfortable you are running through the mountains before hitting any trail.