Trail running in Cape Town is incredibly popular with a huge amount of routes for runners to explore – from technical mountain routes to more expansive jeep tracks and forest trails.

What better way to take in the Mother City and its surrounding areas’ natural beauty than on foot, all the while surging down organic single track and cruising down wide, pine-cushioned forest tracks? A natural wonderland, it’s hardly surprising that the Cell C AfricanX Trailrun, presented by ASICS, a three-day stage race run through Grabouw and surrounds, has grown to become one of the most popular in South Africa.

Houw Hoek Inn, around 40 minutes from Cape Town, acts as home base for the race after moving from Kleinmond in 2013, but with an overall race distance of around 90km, runners cover tracks through Somerset West, Grabouw/Elgin and into Botrivier, amongst others. Along the way, they will be spoilt with the best the Western Cape has to offer, with sweeping vistas, rugged jeep track and natural forest areas.

African X trailrun
Image courtesy of Stillwater Sports.

But while beautiful, the route cannot be scoffed at with some serious technical challenges and some gruelling ascents (more than 2500m in all) waiting to challenge those taking part. So don’t think you can just pitch up – open to amateur trail runners and pros it may be, the African X is a very real challenge!

Run in teams of two – if teams split up during the course of the race, they face time penalties – the race has grown a great deal since the inaugural event in 2009, with a modest 120 teams having expanded to a capped 400 in the current format. Expertly organised and banking on the camaraderie of those that take part, the African X is a great option for those looking to see the area’s natural beauty in a different light.

For more information:

African X Trailrun
Image courtesy of Stillwater Sports.

Get training:

Obviously you can’t just arrive at the African X and expect to cruise through it, you need to get in some serious training beforehand. Thankfully, the Mother City has some of the most epic routes to get in some much-needed mileage before the big event. For some of the best trail runs in Cape Town:

Cape Summer Trail Series:

If you’re looking for some competitive training before the African X, the Summer Series is ideal. Made up of a number of races staged throughout Cape Town and surrounds, the Summer Series offers a short (around 6-7km) and a long option (13-15km), staged in venues such as Kirstenbosch, Silvermine and Elgin. Suitable for novices and professionals, the Summer Series not only offers you a healthy midweek/weekend option, it also provides you with some of the best views in the Western Cape.

For more information: