The plan was to try a new take on an old favourite by starting at the reservoir car park instead of the main gate, with the ultimate intention of ending the morning with a swim to wash off the dust and sweat. However, the weather didn't play fair and we were almost blown off our feet on arrival at the gate at 6:45am. Liz braved the gusts to document the sky while the rest of us huddled in our cars.
(Incidentally, the poor SANparks man had to walk up Ou Kaapse Weg again. All of us coming from the Tokai side must have driven right past him. Let's make a point of looking out for him and giving him a lift next time!)
Once everybody had signed in, we broke into two groups, Main and Relaxed, knowing that the Main Group would break up once we reached the first hill. After a brief explanation of the route, we set off towards the first photo op at the old fire lookout overlooking Noordhoek. This was a first for the Trailers and much excitement was expressed and the obligatory photos taken. As the Main group (still together at this point) descended the knoppie, the Relaxeds climbed up and there was much checking that sufficient pictures had been taken of the view of Noordhoek beach through the gap in the peaks.
The next section of the run was to Noordhoek Peak where we climbed up into the thick mist and the cloud eclipsed the view of Hout Bay, frustrating our photographers. Judy managed to conduct the thick cover into remission for long enough to take a few snaps. The group was keen to move on quickly however, as the temperature at the top was quite icy. Neil marvelled at the pool of fresh water in the basin of rock.
At the next fork in the path, the group was given the option to take the 'Danger: High Winds' route around the sea-side of Noordhoek Peak or the safer jeep track, and the split resulted in only Lorraine and Neil taking the low road. The daring-do group split into two however, the front runners led by Greg and swept by Geoff and the second group led by Theo and swept by Liz. Progress was fairly slow for the back runners, according to reports, but Neil and Lorraine reached the Blackburn Lookout long before either of the other two groups.
The last part of the first half of the planned figure-of-eight was a simple jeep track run as far as the reservoir path.
It was at the reservoir that Neil and Lorraine met up with the Relaxed group who were about to set off on the lower half of the 8. Relaxed watches read roughly 6.5kms and so the planned 2kms to the main gate and 2kms up the River Walk was deemed to be a fine. We deviated from the map slightly in taking the boardwalk around the dam before setting off up the jeep track again, this time looking for a path to the left. As we started running, we saw the both Greg's and Theo's parts of the Main group arrive at the reservoir, expecting them to catch up with us within a short time.
HOWEVER... It seems that Noordhoek Peak had taken the wind out of their sails, or maybe it was the psychology of running past the parked cars, or maybe it was pressing appointments, or whatever the reason, but the Main groups decided not to do the second half of the run as planned! (Faders!) Instead, they found a short loop which brought their total distance up to some 10kms and went home - except for Sam and Judy who were determined to have a swim and a picnic, and Felicity & Theo who had to wait for Neil, their chauffeur.
The newly named Fast Relaxeds (Neil and Lorraine) and the Regular Relaxeds enjoyed a fabulous sandy downhill single track (recognised by Lorraine as the Old Fisherman's path) all the way down to Ou Kaapse Weg. Thank goodness for Marge's phone-map, as we turned off a little early and needed to make a detour after a couple of hundred metres. Everybody agreed that the fast runnable trail was a really lovely new discovery for the Trailers.
The final leg of the morning was a tiring slog up the River Walk, which had never felt longer. It's interesting how different a section of trail that's usually covered at the beginning of the morning can feel at the end of a run!
The final distance for the Fast Relaxeds was 15.3kms, which took a total of 2h39 running time, but 3 hours overall.
More photos on facebook. Thank you, Liz.