Wow – what a trail! This has probably been my favourite (and most challenging) trail runs of the year so far (you’ll see why when you scroll down to the pics).
The Botmaskop Traverse forms part of the Mountain Warrior Challenge Festival held out in the mountains of Stellenbosch / Simonsberg. Take note: MOUNTAIN WARRIOR! – this course – even the “measly” 15km is a quad-buster of note! (as I’m writing this, I’m not a 100% certain I can get up from my chair without some sort of assistance).
To give you some idea: on the road I could probably cover the distance in about 1:20 – my finishing time was around 3:10.
I’ll admit the morning of the race, my expectations weren’t very high. The directions lead me the wrong way (thankfully I had GPS with me as a backup), the start was delayed by an hour, and there were only about 30 participants – how good could this race be with such little support? Well now I’m thinking either people were too ‘poep bang’ to take on the mountains, or this is one of the best kept secrets on the western cape trail circuit.
The parking was at the Rustenburg Wine Estate, which forms part of the Idas Valley area just outside Stellenbosch:
From there we were taken by bus to the starting point at the base of the mountain on Jonkershoek road.
The first few kms was a steep climb on a combination of single track and jeep track, and offered a small taste of the magnificent scenery that was on offer
The route seems to be popular for the mountain bikers
A small glimpse of what was to come about 1 km from the top
One at the top, the terrain get decidedly more tricky
some more great views
it’s at this point you can see why they call it a “traverse”
There’s pretty much no trail up here – you have to rely on a combination of piled rocks, white & orange poles, and spray painted rocks to lead the way – well done to the organisers – every time I went off path (and you will get off path) – there were markers to get me back on track.
This trail probably has some of the steepest descents you’ll encounter anywhere, sometimes requiring the obligatory “bum-slide” to get you down. Keep in mind I’m pointing the camera directly down on these shots:
The “cliff face” descent climb is followed by some pretty steep single track. My quads were busted by this time – I actually had to rest every now and then going down hill!
Eventually the single track opens up to a very pleasant last 3rd of the race on open jeep track and gentle descents
Boy was I glad to see the finish line!
If you’re thinking about doing this race – don’t think – do! Make sure you’re prepared tho – I now understand why the organisers at the start kept repeating: “just keep your sense of humour”
All-in-all a wonderful day spent in the splendour of God’s artistry.
There were just too many great shots to include in-line – check out the album for more trail evidence:
“The Sovereign Lord gives me strength. He makes me sure-footed as a deer and keeps me safe on the mountains. “ – Habakkuk 3:19 (Good News)