SHOOT! The Berg & Beach Stage Run

Words & Photos: Jacques Marais

The Berg & Beach two-day trail run still rates as one of my favourite events in the Western Cape. This is about as close as you will get to running free in the mountains and on beaches, two days in a row ...

Day 1

If you want the best of both mountains and oceans in a two-day trail run close to Cape Town, nothing beats Quantum Adventures Events’ Berg & Beach two-day trail run, which was held on 5 and 6 October. The event makes up part of the Spur Country Classics Series, and day one saw runners lining up at De Kelders, near Gansbaai, on a seriously blustery day.

Despite the weather, the competitors did not hold back and set a blistering pace along the beach stage of the run through the windswept Walker Bay Nature Reserve towards Hermanus, where they finished in Fernkloof Nature Reserve after 23 km of sand, rocks, river crossings, and muddy trails. Bernard Rukadza (1 hour 30 minutes) ruled the day, with Chad Gordon (1 hour 31 minutes) in second place. Danette Smith led the ladies in a time of 1 hour 46 minutes, while Katya Soggot finished strongly in 1 hour 48 minutes.

Wet lenses, gloomy weather, and misty conditions meant the Sony's had to work damn hard to get some colour into the images.

Day 2

Sure, day one at the annual Berg & Beach Trail Run is a beauty, what with the whales, sea views, and rock formations. But then day two dawns and not only is it sunny with fluffy clouds but you also get to go and play in some of the most beautiful mountains ever since ... well, the days of continental drift.

The route up and into and over Fernkloof Nature Reserve is all about let-your-hair-down running, with rock hopping, fynbos single track, high heather ridges, mountain pools, cascading waterfalls, and great lungfuls of oxygenated air fresh from the Atlantic Ocean. There is also 'The Switchback from Hell' but once you've conquered that, Aasvoelkop is a peachy ascent before you barrel back to the finish line.

Bernard Rukadza dominated to such an extent that he smashed the previous record by a seemingly impossible 26 minutes. Chad Gordon hung in there despite a hard day in the office to take second over Ake Fagereng. The women's race went down to the wire with Annemien Ganzevoort setting the trails on fire to haul in a 7-minute deficit, beating Katya Soggot by a mere minute over the two days.

Many thanks (and continued respect) to all the runners for the smiles, poses, jibes, jokes, and kak-praat. You know what I like the most? When you run that uphill just because I'm pointing the camera at you - you go, guys :-)


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