Archive for October, 2010

Three Peaks Challenge – Will the record go?

The record for the Three Peaks Challenge (Next event – November 6, 2010) is one of the longest standing trail records in the Western Cape, if not the country. (Quick disclaimer – I have based that on no more than the fact that the record was set in 2001 and as most trail runs these days only started after that and others have had their records broken regularly – I came to that conclusion – am happy to be corrected – end of disclaimer.)

The Three Peaks Challenge, for those that don’t know, is an annual event which starts at Greenmarket Square in Cape Town, pretty much at sea level, and involves running (or walking for some of us) up Cape Town’s three peaks; Devil’s Peak, Maclears Beacon via Platteklip Gorge and Lion’s Head, returning to the square after each peak.

A fun and challenging day out for most of us fun runners but there’s always a group of super charged, super fit and super fast runners, who go out to win it and break the record if they can. The record is held by Chad Ulansky, a Canadian cross country skier, who in 2001 entered at the last minute, you could in those days, and blitzed the tough course in 5:27:29 – a record that still stands today, albeit with a bit of luck.

Guys have come close but the record stands. Three time winner (1998, 2002, 2003) & multiple comrades gold medallist, Danny Biggs, threatened the record in 2002, winning in 5:33:51, Bruce Arnett, one of the country’s top trail runners, came agonisingly close in 2008, finishing in 5:28:08, missing it by 39 seconds. Considering that Arnett is from out of town and did not know the route that record is lucky to be still standing.

But stand it does, last year’s winner, Andrew Hagen (also the 2007 winner) also came close with an impressive 5:34:27 .  So can the record go and who can win it? Not knowing all of the entrants and their abilities, two names stand out for me; double winner, Ake Fagereng (2004 and 2005), won this year’s Hout Bay Trail Challenge, looks in good form and is probably just favourite ahead of Hagen. Hagen, always a threat, is an effortlessly fast runner with a well disguised, competitive edge. Should be a good one and I think that record may be in danger.

Me, I’ll be enjoying outing number 9 in my favourite run on the calendar. Those mentioned above are the ones that I see at the square after my first two peaks – they are already finished and sitting around drinking beers.

See the history, results and  pics at

Three Peaks Challenge

City Bowl accommodation – little gems

My last post bemoaned the fact that I don’t like fancy hotels much; but boutique hotels and warm Victorian guesthouses are something else and I recently had the opportunity to overnight in a couple of City Bowl gems.

A few weeks ago, a group of us hiked up to an  unknown CRAG in the Table Mountain National Park to see if we could spot the fledgling Black Eagle chick that had hatched in August this year. But the mist was so thick – we couldn’t spot our sarmies at two paces never mind an elusive baby raptor hanging out with the folks.

So no luck spotting Black Eagles on the mountain so I was surprised that afternoon when after booking into Kensington Place in Tamboerskloof

I spotted a large raptor like bird sitting in a tree about 150m away, I was convinced it was a Black Eagle but thought it a little coincidental to see one there,

Melanistic Black Sparrowhawk

Melanistic Black Sparrowhawk

especially after our morning’s efforts – not impossible but unlikely. After a ceremonious fly past the large raptor revealed itself and allowed me to snap some quick pics for identification purposes – the bird turned out to be a melanistic Black Sparrowhawk (confirmed by an expert)) – no Black Eagle but a pretty cool bird nevertheless.

KP is a lovely boutique hotel high up on the slopes of the Cape Town city bowl and back dropped by the city’s famed Three Peaks.

The room was great, spacious and light with great views and the welcome drinks on the house very welcome. Their emergency box is a great idea, and with Candice not feeling so well, the strepsils and Panados came in handy.

Breakfast next morning out side next to the pool – was great and the staff were friendly although less so when we asked if we could breakfast outside – minor blot but annoying.

A couple of weeks later we found ourselves at Welgelegen Guest House in Gardens. Friendly and welcoming the old Victorian house is comfy and warm but does lack a bit of maintenance. Being my birthday we headed off to Beefcakes in Green Point where we enjoyed  a fun filled evening being entertained by three drag artists – including a certain “Mary f*cking scary” who really was f*cking scary” but fun…in a scary kind of way. For those homophobes – the food is good, the vibe great and plenty of lesbian eye candy to keep the homophobia at bay.

The next morning at breakfast – the staff surprised me with a chocolate cake and a happy birthday song – ending off a cool stay in another of the City Bowl’s  small and  personal accommodation establishments. Both KP and W offered free wifi in the rooms – KP even had a laptop for guest’s use if required.