It’s race weekend in South Africa with the 2022 Edition of the Ultra Trail Cape Town (UTCT) set to get underway with the 23-kilometer and 55-kilometer events on Friday morning. Saturday night the inaugural 100-mile event will head off into the night with the the 100-kilometer event, and the distance that put UTCT on the map, starting Saturday morning. 1,909 runners from 47 countries will be taking tracks that are as challenging as they are beautiful. Most importantly have you entered your UTCT Freetrail Fantasy picks yet? You only have until the gun goes off Saturday morning (6 a.m. local time) – and you won’t want to miss out on a chance to win the enormous prize. We’re talking flights to the event, accommodations for the race, and entry into the 2023 race!
There’s something special about Cape Town – maybe I say that because I’ve escaped the start of the PNW rainy season to the burgeoning summer of the southern hemisphere… but I think it’s more than that. While there are many things that are striking about the bustling South African city Table Mountain erupting from the very center of it is definitely a highlight. Urban and wild space blending seamlessly. When these spaces in between exist an opportunity springs up to grow a running community based in that very space. With Table Mountain as their back drop that’s exactly what UTCT’s race director, Stuart McConnachie, and UTCT’s founder Nick Bornman did. Starting in 2014 the men gathered friends and community members (and soon to be friends) every Tuesday night at 6 p.m. to run on one of two sides of Table Mountain. Still going strong eight years later, Tuesday Trails is a place where runners gather year around, rain or shine.
Runners take off in five different groups of varying paces with a group leader and sweep looking after each – there is truly something for everyone and the enthusiasm of each group leader is contagious. This weeks run took us out to Signal Hill with a little jaunt around Lion’s Head, a clear sunny evening with costal views and good company! While UTCT race week brings a whole new flavor, the typical Tuesday Trail run often has as many as 150-200 runners in attendance. Sometimes that might even mean kicking it in the last kilometer to make sure you can grab a cold beverage from the cooler before they’re gone. Trust me on this, I grabbed the last one this time around.
While running is obviously a quintessential part of any running group, there is a clear social aspect found amongst the runners who come out Table Mountain every Tuesday night. Friends catching up, new friendships formed, and during race week in Cape Town – meeting the runners who have traveled from all over to toe the start line.
While Tuesday Trails is only the first event of many during race week, it’s community has a gravitational pull that will have me looking for ways to come back to South Africa for years to come.