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: