HASSIEM FISHER a local trail enthusiast from Cape Town regularly runs on the 35km Ultra route as part of his training for the 65km Ultra Trail Cape Town (UTCT).
The 50-year-old, Fisher, will be running the 65km for the second time this year. Hassiem shares his experience of the short route for the benefit of those attempting this LITTLE MONSTER.
HASSIEM SAYS: “At the start of the 35km you immediately turn left and you get an uphill. You will start feeling your calves and thighs burning from the start as you climb up to Tafelberg Road.
“It’s going to be a bit chilly in the morning so your lungs are also going to hurt. You have Kloof Corner to contend with. Once you get to the top of Kloof Corner, the oxygen will only then start circulating in your legs – that is if you haven’t warmed up before the start.
“Along the contour path going up Plattteklip Gorge is where a lot of runners experienced cramps for the first time. This is because oxygen in their veins and legs hasn’t really starting pumping properly yet.
“You have to be very conservative until you get to the top. Going down from MaClear’s Beacon is very runnable. Once you get into the valley it becomes a matter of jumping from one rock to the other in the path.
“‘The routes are well marked and once you get to the dams at Scout’s Hut you will experience the welcome relief of the water station where you will be able to take a much-needed break. You can then stretch your legs and make sure you are properly hydrated.
“’Once you cross the dam at the top of the mountain, the 35km and 65km route splits. The 65km participants will turn left and meander downhill along the grey jeep track to the bottom of Constantia Nek.
“The 35km runners however have to turn left and run for about 500m to Nursery Ravine. This is where the fun and games start. The terrain becomes very tricky from here. Nursery Ravine has to be approached with extreme caution.
“It is a very steep downhill over very technical terrain. You have to concentrate and watch your feet all the time because it is very easy to trip over something. When you stand still your legs will start shaking like jelly.
“Evetually whn you get to the bottom – and it takes a while to get there – it might be good idea just to allow your legs to recover a bit from the bone-jarring impact of the long downhill.
“Once at the bottom you hit the contour path where you can finally start to at least run a bit on the boardwalks in the shaded Nrewlands Forest until you get to the turnstile at the Old Zoo.
“You also have to be very cautious here especially because there are lots of loose rocks to contend with. On tired leg this can be quite dangerous and you continuously have to keep your wits about you. There is a long haul up the Jamieson Steps which you hit on tired legs to the big refreshment station at UCT.
“Once you at the water station, it is not necessary to rush through it. There will be lots to eat and drink. Grab some Red Bulls and put in in your back pack! It might just come in handy when you need that last little boost of engery to carry you until the end.
“The big steep climb up to the Block House follows this. You can approach this in three stages. After the first segment which is the longest of the three, take a break on the gravel road. Continue on the second segment and rest a bit until you tackle the last one to get to the top of the Block House.
From there it’s all very runnable along the side of Table Mountain. It will then be late afternoon. Be careful because the wind blows quite strongly. There is a lot of tall grass. You are tired and you have to make sure you watch your feet all the time.
“I believe you can walk most of the ups, speed up a bit on the flats and be gentle on the downhills. When you come to Dead Man’s Tree into Deer Park the rocks are quite big.
“This is about 4km from the finish. You have to very careful where you place your feet. The last thing you want to do is to twist an ankle just before the finish.”
MAC JOHNSON, one of Hassiem’s trainiing buddies will be tackling his second 35km UTCT in 2018.
Last year Johnson. a former rugby player, didn’t feel well at certain stages in the race. Despite not feeling 100%, Mac showed great guts and determination to finish the race.
It is testimony to his strenth of charachter that the 49-year-old from Goodwood managed to push through to the end to eventully finish the gruelling 35km in under 10 hours.
“It found it to be extremely tough last year and there were times, I was seriously considering throwing in the towel,”” said Johnson.
“I however, decided to push though and was tremendously proud of myself when I eventually crossed the finish line at the Garden Tech Rugby Club.
“Eventhough though the route was extrememy challenging, the UTCT tested my mental strength brought out the best in me.
“Trail running is a thoroughly enjoyable experience. Besides the tremendous sense of achievement and helping me to realax. It has also given me the confidence to tackle longer distances with more confidence in the future,” he added.