July 17, 2012
Franschhoek Bastille Day trail run 2012
Fazielah Williams has lived in and loved her Mother City since birth. Having lived all over the Peninsula during her childhood, she now calls the picturesque City Bowl home and likes nothing more than watching the sun set over Table Bay from the window of her apartment.
A lover of the arts and proud Cape Town fanatic, Fazielah began her writing career by spending many hours as a child conjuring fantastical stories that featured independent heroines from faraway lands who saved the Prince instead. This Capetonian princess has enjoyed stints as a magical arts PRO and TV publicist before finding her calling as a travel writer.
When not waxing lyrical about the Fairest Cape’s most loved attractions and activities and embarking on unexpected adventures, Fazielah can usually be found taking in a show at one of the City’s fabulous theatres.
At 05h30 on Saturday, July 14, 2012, I began to question my sanity.
While most people in Cape Town were tucked up in bed, blissfully unaware of the rain running down their windowpanes, I was pulling on a pair of shorts and running shoes in preparation for my first organised trail run.
By the time I arrived at the Franschhoek Bastille Day Trail Run race starting area at 07h00, which was at the head of the Berg River Dam in the Cape’s wine region, my mood remained as bleak as the weather.
The rain had only been replaced by a biting cold wind and the frigid conditions left me wondering why trail running was such a popular sport in Cape Town over the winter season. Because from what I could see, it was very popular indeed.
Despite the weather, hundreds of runners were waiting to set off on three separate races: the short 12km course, which was the event I took part in; a more challenging 22km course that involved more hills; and for the truly tough nuts, a 35km course that took in some seriously mixed terrain.
It was only after five kilometres into the race, when my body had begun to warm up from physical exertion that the joys of trail running slowly began to dawn on me: it is so much more exciting, fun and scenic than road running.
Initially, we ran along contour paths through the hills surrounding the Berg River Dam, and because of the heavy rains a few waterfalls were spilling across our track. Later, we descended to trails alongside the rivers feeding into the dam and, occasionally, we had to plunge through the icy water to follow the route to other side.
While that might not sound too tempting, I found it strangely satisfying to run through a cold river without a thought for keeping myself dry. Maybe I’m a bit of a masochist, but it brought a smile to my face.
After one-and-a-half hours I crossed the finish line, and the sense of achievement was satisfying. Once you’ve put yourself through a gruelling experience like that there is only one thing to do: treat yourself.
And so my running team and I headed off to Franschhoek and its Bastille day celebrations where we had lunch at Reuben’s restaurant, one of the best eateries in the Western Cape, if not South Africa. It was the perfect end to what started out as a very daunting day.
To find out more about trail running in Cape Town, visit www.trailrunning.co.za.