This past Sunday was blessed with Spring weather here in the Cape. We headed off to Le Bonheur Wine Estate in Stellenbosch to run the Travellers Trail Run (part of the Dirtopia Trail Run Series). I chose the 9Km and my wife Rosalie the 14Km (some wives do go on and on, don’t they? – joke!!!).

This was the view to the left of the Starting line

Le Bonheur

This is the view of my breakfast enjoyed afterwards at Schoon De Companje in Stellenbosch


The dish was their WILD MUSHROOMS with grilled sour cream & sage paste on Schoon Sourdough toast and a poached egg


We in the Cape have the privilege of enjoying magnificent and diverse  views!



One of the pleasures about Trail Running here in Cape Town is the variety of venues and courses we run on – forests, mountains, vineyards, beaches, dams, rivers and more.

Last weekend saw the third of the Spur Winter Trail Series down here, this time at the Taal Monument and Paarl Rock, these literally tower over the town of Paarl and its surrounds and afforded breathtaking views. I wonder how many Paarl residents have availed themselves of the opportunity to enjoy this spectacular vista.

The rock …… and the hard place:





One of the benefits of being a back-of-the-field runner is that inbetween looking down to see where to place one’s feet, there is plenty of time to revel in the spectacle.


The Run starts in the road beneath the Taal Monument and ends with a short trot down its steps. As I was wearing brand new trail shoes, I opted for the 8Km run.

It was amazing that in spite of starting fairly high up we carried on up and up for quite a distance. But the route map dangled a long downhill to the finish, so hey ho hey ho off we go (went). Gorgeous winter weather, which soon had as warm and happy.

As is my wont, I had plenty of time to chat and enjoy the company of my fellow runners, young and less young.

The ups behind me, I came around a bend and the welcome sight of the downhill to the Taal Monument. Now I make no claim to athletic prowess or to having a competitive streak, but the stairs hold no fear for me and I am able to tackle them at speed, passing a few who treat them with a little trepidation.

So another happy trail run under my belt, my all-time favourite form of exercise. Did I used to do road running? Seems decades ago…….well five years ago to be exact.


Franschhoek deservedly enjoys a reputation for fine wines, fine dining and spectacular scenery.

The Franschhoek Wine Valley does an excellent job in attracting visitors to the area and the Bastille Festival is one of its calendar highlights. We enjoy visiting Franschhoek quite a few times during the year.

But for the evergrowing Western Cape trail running community, Bastille means one thing: The Salomon Bastille Day Trail Run.


It is held in the spectacularly beautiful mountainous surrounds of the Berg River Dam, one of the Franschhoek Valley’s hidden treasures and comes with some words of caution: The Franschhoek Mountains in July can be covered in snow. The rivers are scenic yet cold. These runs are a wilderness adventure, for which you need to be prepared – you have been warned!

For the past four years I have tackled the 15Km run described as: Not such a beginner trail run, mostly on forest tracks and gravel roads, with some single-track and short technical (loose rocks, bushy) section. Moderate inclines. Your feet will get wet at river crossings. All rocks are slippery!

Trail Running has a very special place in my life – it is the only sport/exercise that I have totally enjoyed. When I tasted my first trail run, I knew that I had given up road running for good.

And as Comrades might be the ultimate race for South African road runners, the Bastille is my biggie. It is the longest trail run I do and the most technically challenging.

Each year’s Bastille has brought its own challenge, the first year I took part, the weather was atrocious, the rivers ran deep and strong and it was a bitterly cold morning.

The weather predictions for the Franschhoek area for 11 July this year included the dreaded word “snow”, but as it turned out, the day delivered perfect weather for trail running.

The actual course for the 15Km is not identical each year and has to be prepared anew by the organising team. This year was pebbly, stoney, rocky, jumpy, slidey and absolutely wonderful. I came into the run with more fitness than previously and finished with energy to spare.

Oh, by the way, one of the surprises of the run is encountering a gorilla. But being my fourth time, my fear was feigned:


As we left, it started to rain but the weather didn’t seem to deter the Bastille Festival beret-wearing revellers we observed as we drove through the Franschhoek village. I envied them, but my tired ankles said not to going for a walk and I didn’t argue.

If you have never tried Trail, there are many, many runs on the calendar to get you started. Buy a reasonable trail shoe and come +- 14 July 2016, you too will be ready to tackle The Salomon Bastille Day Trail Run, see you there.

If you look very carefully at this picture, you will see me approaching the Finish of this year run, Told you it was spectacular:



Monday morning before 06h00 was very dark and rather cold. When my wife said we should leave for the beach trail run we had entered, a flow of mumbles poured out of my mouth. It didn’t sound like an attractive option.

The event was called the Muizenberg Monster, was being held for the first time and consisted of three distances: 6, 10 or 20Km. Being the sensible lad that I see myself as being, I had chosen the 6Km.

When we got to the beach to register, it was still dark and windy and cold. More mumbles.

Before run time, Trevor the event organiser, took this picture of Rosalie and I with his “just bought it” camera .


Well the run started just as the bright sun peeped over the distant mountain, so we blindly set off. After a few minutes, my desire to grumble had disappeared and the three Kms out and three Kms back went like a flash (a slow one).

Looking at that picture of the two of us, sometimes early morning invitations turn out better than they sound. Sometimes….