I am checking the route for this Saturday’s PUFfeR. The route description on the official site is an image, making it difficult to use (and update, which is why I suspect no one has done so — it still describes the finish at Ferrimans rather than the new finish at the Oceana Boat Club). I used OCR software to convert it to text. I also found the uploaded route on Garmin Connect; I have adjusted the finish of the route and have loaded it on my Garmin Forerunner 910XT as a Course.
Follow the main road through the Cape of Good Hope Section back to the main entrance. It will still be (very) dark so you may wish to carry a torch. The first 20 kays are gentle road running designed to let you find your stride and warm up gently.
Checkpoint 1 will be at 7,5 km (by the Gifkommetjie turn-off)
Checkpoint 2 is at 13,5 km at the main entrance gate to the Park.
Beyond the gate, at the T-junction, turn LEFT towards Scarborough Red Hill. This is a nice, flat tree-lined road.
Checkpoint 3 at 21 ,8 km where you turn RIGHT towards Simon’s Town.
Continue the fairly steep ascent up Red Hill for just more than 3 kays. A few hundred metres after the highest point turn LEFT into a small tar side road. (There is a little track shortcut just before Pine haven turn-off). There is a little sign “Pine haven” which is only visible coming from the other direction. If you run past the parking area with sweeping False Bay views on your right, you have run too far, turn back a few hundred metres.
Follow this lekker little tar road for about 2 kays when you arrive at the Brooklands farm (will the usual barking dogs be there?) where Checkpoint 4 will be. Pass this house to the LEFT and continue with the track, along the base of the Lewis Gray Dam (do not turn right here) and continue straight along the steep track up for 500m i.e. running alongside and then above the Dam. At the top there is a T-junction with a little green reserve sign, where you must turn RIGHT. As you run across the crest, pause a couple of microseconds to admire the view of Table Mountain in the distance where you will arrive sometime later today.
Follow the track, which makes a left (West) turn down the little valley. At the bottom, a little stream crosses the track. Try to keep your takkies as dry as possible. You then have to zigzag back up the other side of the valley, taking care not to mistake the firebreak (on the right) for the real path. Do not take the right-hand track, which goes towards the trees down to Da Gama Park. At any time here: when in doubt, take the left turn. At the top of the hill (by the low cairn), take the firebreak path on the right hand, to re-join the jeep track less than 1 km further. Turn RIGHT (East) to head for Black Hill. Just before you reach Ou Kaapse Weg / Glencairn Freeway, there is a T-junction (perhaps the photographer will see you just before you get there make sure your race number is visible). At the T-Junction, turn left (downhill) towards the Glencairn freeway. You should find Checkpoint 5 about 200 metres further down gravel road. As you leave the water table they will send you further down the gravel road which then starts to turn towards the tar road. Look out for a path going off to the left YOU MAY NOT RUN DOWN THE TAR ROAD. This path is a single track with little bumps but runs next to the tar road. It will eventually come out in a clearing where there are armco barriers. At the road, cross carefully to go down to Fish Hoek.
This is a fast 1 kay downhill to the main traffic lights on Kommetjie Road. You should cross VERY CAREFULLY as you are now an ordinary pedestrian in between lots of fast and nervous cars (on their way to shopping pleasures). There will be NO traffic Marshall so you must obey normal traffic rules. You continue (straight) along Ou Kaapse without taking any turn-offs. Cross the second set of traffic lights. Also Ignore the Two Oceans impulses that will try to steer you towards Noordhoek but instead plough up Peers Hill (in fact, the peak to your left is slightly higher, it’s called the Dassenberg). [Note that there is a short-cut up this hill: just before the “90km maximum speed” sign where the road turns left, there is a track off to the right, follow it for 50m and then turn LEFT following the underground sewerage pipe to the top of the hill — only do this if you have run this before]. From the top it is downhill for a few hundreds of metres to the next intersection (4 kays from the Sunvalley 4-way stop) where you can see the Silvermine Retirement Village on your left.
You will see Checkpoint 6 water table on the grassy patch by the tall trees, just a few meters up Silvermine Road (the northwest corner of Silvermine Road and Ou Kaapse Weg). You will need to cross Ou Kaapse Weg — take extreme care crossing this road with fast traffic and a short line of sight! After leaving the water table, proceed ±300 meters up the path next to fence of retirement village until you can see the dirt track. This is the beginning of the Old Wagon Trail. Note: you HAVE to take this track i.e. you are NOT allowed to proceed along Ou Kaapse. Whilst you check your footing, you puff zigzagging up towards Bokkop (about 3 kays) until you get some gentle downhill. When you have crossed the “top”, proceed straight ahead until you see the first major turn off to the RIGHT (lt will be marked and we will have a Marshall). You must turn right and not carry on up to the dam. lf you do you will be disqualified. Follow the track over the tar road until you reach the Mountain Bike Car park and you will find Checkpoint 7. Load up on energy bars etc.: you’ll need it (take some with you)
As you leave the Car park you follow the gravel road till you meet up with the old route coming from the dam .You may not run up the tar road to the dam. Follow the main track up in north-westerly direction. Just before the hairpin bends, there is a small, rocky “shortcut” footpath on the RIGHT (walk this, don’t run!), which turns RIGHT just after meeting up at the last road bend. Follow it to the forest where it runs along the (firebreak) edge of the forest in the direction of Elephant’s Eye. Follow this for about half a kay where you have to cross the stream bed. (You should see the fire outlook on the ridge ahead). Less than 100m further, you turn right back towards the forest / edge of the ridge where you can follow the “Elephant’s Eye”. Follow the main path ell into the Tokai forest plantation. STICK TO THE PATH AND DO NOT TAKE THE EROSION SHORT- CUTS or you and your off-spring will be doomed forever, haunted by the Tokai Elephant Ghost and disqualified!
Keep running down the path until you meet up with the (highest Ievel 5) forest road of the Tokai plantation where you turn LEFT and follow it meandering at more or less the same altitude (the 33Dm contour). When in doubt at any fork on the dirt, choose the left turn-off. (If you do this consistently, you will actually meet up with the Telkom FM-mast tar road, turn right and follow it down to the next turning off to the left.
Where the track turns left somewhere along this stretch there may be a Checkpoint 8 but we doubt that we can bring up coke or water, so ensure that you take your own rations with you! After the check point you carry on the path. Follow this for about 100m until it crosses another path. Here you turn RIGHT (north) to run up the Vlakkenberg. You climb up to admire the view of the back of Table Mountain and then reflect on how lucky and privileged you are to have to descend a very steep rocky path to lose 300m altitude, only to have to climb it up again at the other side of Constantia Nek.
Take GREAT CARE in going down this path. Also don’t get confused by the firebreak, which you cross on the way down. A bit further down, you admire the remains and re-sprouting of horrible aliens (the planty kind). The newly upgraded path makes its way down in the general direction of Constantia Nek below between two fence lines (Silvermist and Beau Constance estates). Enter the reservoir area gate until you reach the road which some of you walk on the Two Oceans, turn RIGHT towards Constantia Nek which is only 100m away.
At the circle enjoy the atmosphere at Checkpoint 9) for a while, courtesy of Hout Bay Harriers. A marshal will check your kit here: raingear, warm top (emergency blanket), food rations. If you don’t Ieave here by 13:30, you will not be allowed up the mountain [in which case your time will be taken and you will qualify for the “Fun Run” section of the run; proceed by other means of transport e.g. car, helicopter, bike, to the Waterfront]. If you are unlucky enough to be allowed through, take the (new) Rhodes Drive to Kirsten Bosch but turn off immediately to your LEFT to take the Old Rhodes Drive which will take you up Table Mountain. Don’t trust the survey maps or the “MapStudio” maps to show you how the track goes, but follow your memories. Choose any route (bridle path or the new steps…) up, up, up, up and up towards the first (De Villiers) Dam where you will find a water tap just outside the TMNP Hoerikwaggo Trail Hut (old Water Bailiff’s House) on your right hand side. [*** The best map for Table Mountain is the 1:12500 “Approved Paths on Table Mountain” by the MCSA, available from your local outdoors shop e.g. Camp&Climb or the Mountain Club of SA office **’*]. Peter Slingsby’s map is a good alternative.
Checkpoint 10 – There may be a medical check-up here to assess your general physical and mental shape. The marshal has the authority to turn runners back if he is doubtful about your ability to continue. You need to be able to do 50 push-ups and 100 high jumps without pushing your heart rate above 80 pm J. 100 m further, Ieave the concrete track (which turns east / left), and take the hiking path that runs along the eastern side of Table Mountain. A good km further, you’ll cross the path coming out of Nursery Ravine. Continue north towards “Breakfast Rock” at the top of Skeleton Gorge another half kay further. (Runners can also run along the jeep track, via Woodhead & Heli Hutchinson reservoirs to Skeleton Gorge, if they wish)
At the Skeleton Gorge junction, keep going north up the mountain, along Smuts Track as indicated by the signpost, instead of going right down (east) Skeleton Gorge (where nice warm coffee and cake is to be had at Kirstenbosch – temptation!) north-west (towards Heli Hutchinson Dam). There is a “bit of a climb” going all the way up to Maclear’s beacon which will only become visible at the very last moment. The path is in very good condition with nice steps and wooden bridges, but at many occasions it is difficult to make out where the path really goes, although the newly painted arrows make life a bit easier. Trust your instinct, memory or compass whichever is right. This is the place to curse your parents (they caused you to be alive) and wish the organizers to go to hell (but note that verbal abuse against the race organizers also leads to disqualification, we have little tape recorders hidden along the path).
Congratulations, you’ve made it to Maclear’s beacon, Checkpoint 11 (again without provisions!). Enjoy the hospitality of the PINENUTS here.
Set off in a generally (north) westerly direction towards the Cable Car station (hopefully visible). The path is not always clear but at least it is always soggy. There are two paths (follow the yellow footprints). Depending on how you run, you will end up along the ridge at the front of the Mountain with magnificent views. Be careful – you’re pretty tired now and the urge to commit voluntary or involuntary suicide by running too close to the edge will be great. Remember that you will be missing out on some good beer if you fall off the edge. Take it from us that you cannot fly either although in your current mental state you may think otherwise.
There will be a little crevasse just before you get too close to the Cable Car station (where refreshments are on sale when it’s open) and the signposts indicates the proper direction (RIGHT) towards Platteklip. This is an extremely steep downhill with many loose rocks, big steps and fairly badly eroded, despite the best efforts of TMNP. TAKE EXTREME CAUTION. At least 3D% of the field will twist one, two or more ankles here! Do NOT run, WALK slowly, carefully and gently. You are too tired by now to take any risks! If the rocks are moist, the danger is multiplied many times over. THIS IS A DANGEROUS PART OF THE ROUTE.
Proceed down to the bottom of Platteklip until you meet up with the Contour path (less than 100 metres above the Tafelberg Road) where you turn LEFT.
About 100 m further you cross the stream and continue along the Contour Path following the direction for “Lower Cable Car Station – do NOT follow the stream downhill towards the Tafelberg Road (unless it’s after dark). About a kilometre further, just after the contour path takes you below the cable car cables, you will come to a path crossing. Take the rock steps on your RIGHT towards the LOWER CABLE CAR station on Tafelberg Road where at last you reach Checkpoint 12. No, those are still your legs, it is not really jelly.
Follow the Tafelberg Road from the lower cable car station but be mindful of the traffic! You can short cut the zigzag of the Tafelberg Road on either side (just after the lower Cable car Station there are steps down to the next bend; or at the first bend there is an in places tricky & eroded path down).
The Kloofnek traffic “circle” – cross this VERY CAREFULLY: there is a lot of fast traffic here and, because of your exhaustion, you are likely to have lost most of your sense of judgement (as well as your sense of humour). These cars WILL NOT STOP for you, they will flatten you. Take care!
Take the road, which leads you to Signal Hill (no, we leave the climb to Lion’s Head for another time) along the Lion’s Rump. Although there is a lovely path right on top the Lion’s spine, you most probably had enough of paths by now and are likely to stick to the road. Keep to the very right of the road (if you walk, walk on the gravel). After slowly climbing f walking up the Lion’s Burn (‘2) for a while there will be a (the first) clump of trees (with a parking spot) on your left, Checkpoint 13 and a track turning off to the RIGHT (by the “no parking” sign and with a chain).
Follow this nice gravel track which first goes down a bit and then levels out to contour around Signal Hill. At the first fork, ignore the right-hand track leading down the hill. A while further, the same (?) track joins you back from the right (ignore) but there is another fork just 50 metres further (just as you start climbing up again) where you should take the RIGHT hand track i.e. the one that leads down (at last); the left hand one will take you back up to the top of Signal Hill. Follow this track for a couple of hundreds of metres where it stops dead against a military-style standard issue nasty bit offence. Although you can now proceed either way, I recommend following this fence on the RIGHT hand side (but keep your body well clear off the fence, especially if it starting to get dark). There is a cleared bit of path all around this weirdly shaped fenced property and you just keep following the fence, past the main entrance (cross the entrance road), all around until you can clearly make out the houses and roads less than 100 metres below you. Leave the fence (which would actually lead you back up the mountain to your original point of departure anyway) and slip slide down in the general direction of the Waterfront (you can almost smell Mitchell’s now). Steer to the RIGHT of the house and slide down the grassy bank right to where the steps are. But be careful crossing the very busy and dangerous Strand! High Level Road; it is safest to detour slightly to the left and cross at the robots. Take the steps down to Boundary Road, which you follow all the way down to the main road leading to Sea Point. There is lots of traffic here (and many motorists are NOT looking at the road but at unspecified distractions on the pavements) so do NOT cross here but turn LEFT. Follow the pavements (taking care not to bump into stationary pedestrians) until the pedestrian robots (No 187??). Cross (RIGHT) here and follow the road down to the Waterfront. Another 500 metres to go to the circle which you circle (cross the Waterfront road at the pedestrian crossing to be safe!) and then down to the finish outside Ferrymen’s Tavern (next to Mitchell’s Brewery, the big building on the RIGHT of the Red Workshop, idiot) where you must try to locate a timekeeper (outside if the weather is okay and it’s still light, otherwise inside the pub) and announce your arrival.
CONGRATULATIONS!!! YOU HAVE MADE IT!