Friday 31 March 2017

FEEDBACK: TABLE MOUNTAIN TRAILERS Saturday 1st April - Newlands Forest

Hi Trailers,

I have to say up front that I don't think we take as much advantage of Newlands Forest as we should. It's beautiful! The trees, the paths, the undergrowth, the rocks, the smells, the birds ... all of it is simply stunning. And this first Saturday in April was no exception.

The morning dawned cool and fresh. We expected a large crowd as this run is always popular with newbies wanting to do a recce of the OMTOM short trail. We weren't wrong: there was a record turnout of 46 people, 17 of whom joined us for the first time.

Despite having fallen for an April Fool's prank that had me arriving at the start before dawn to ensure that Trailers didn't get caught up in a fictitious Ryan Sandes run, it was lovely to get there early to meet new faces and discuss the route with the group leaders. Ahem. I hadn't realised that the OMTOM organisers were running it in REVERSE this year! Duly corrected, my maps were studied and we split into our three pace groups.

A good-sized peloton of fasties headed off first with a suggestion that they include a loop to the blockhouse to lengthen the route for the speedsters.

The medium group, ably guided by Geoff, Hein and Theo - who seems to have the web of paths in the forest etched into his brain - trotted into the forest hot on their heels.

The slower group, lead by Nora, followed in our tracks and was true to tradition by managing to lose the trail a few times. Cap'n Pete is adamant that they never got lost though :)

I don't think I can rave about this route enough: it is magical. It always feels to me as if I've landed in the middle of a fairy tale forest. I half expect to bump into Hansel and Gretl, or a Huntsman, or perhaps a Wicked Witch or seven dwarves! (Hold the comments about the Witch!)

There are the ruins of Lady Anne Barnard's estate and the soldiers garrison to inspect, fallen trees to clamber over and under, streams to jump across, and towering pines that draw your eyes upwards and make you feel as small as a child.

Green, shady and cool, the paths criss-cross and wind their way through areas with make-believe names such as The Woodcutter's Trail, Silvertree and Orchards Trails and Avatar Forest. You really do feel as if you are in a dream world.

Exploring the old zoo at the end was a treat. Geoff managed to find a way into the lion's den and we inspected the abandoned cages as well as the external moated area from inside. How sad those poor captive felines must have been.

But less dreaming and on to matters statistical:

Special mentions: Nora Miller completed her 50th sortie and may now wear the coveted green tee-shirt; Tim Bellairs, Jayson Welthagen and Julie Burchell all completed their 10th sortie and will move into the speed-check-in section of the register, and we welcomed back Tissa Fusloch and Dave Buywater who had been AWOL for almost two years.


My phone tells me we covered 9.85km in 1h19 running time, but with all the stops it took us close on two hours to get back to the cars.

Wednesday 29 March 2017


A  thank you note from Judy to all who were there on Saturday's run 


TO ALL THE TABLE MOUNTAIN TRAILER friends who helped me on Sat on the Vlakkenberg trail:


..Liz, Stephen (you LEGEND for carrying me in such hectic conditions!), the other gentleman that helped carry my heavy load  (Richard) !, Lorraine for co-ordinating Search & Rescue & medics so quickly and efficiently, the ladies with the painkillers and space blanket, for Jeff who gave me a lift, ice and more importantly, a beer to recover from my shock:-) !   Thank you to everyone involved - I don't have enough words to express my gratitude. While it certainly was one way to introduce myself to your wonderful trail group, it wasn't quite what I had in mind:-) 


I’m sorry I didn’t get everyone’s names to thank but you know who you all were that helped down the gorge.  THANK YOU!!

Most importantly, thank you for helping me keep my sense of humour through it all (I must say it did wane somewhat when the "Unfortunately I have bad news for you as it looks fractured"...comment came from the ER doctor

 The initial prognosis is that the ankle has a fracture and all ligaments torn.  But have been referred to an ankle specialist next week to assess it properly and see what my options are.  I’m confident I will make a positive come backJ

Positive vibes, healing thoughts, light and prayers most welcome!
Many many thanks once again to you all! 

As they say, I’ll be backJ

Happy trails to you all


Judy Phillips



Sunday 26 March 2017

FEEDBACK: Saturday 25 March 2017 - Vlakkenberg & Bokkemanskloof

This week's run proved to me once again that trail runners are an amazing bunch of people and taught us some valuable lessons! 

Autumn is here! The sun wasn't up yet, the air was cool and the wind was freezing at the start at Constantia Nek. Richard left first with his small group of 4 other fast runners. There was no slow group and 18 runners in the medium group.

We eased down the  tar and then started the slow slog up Vlakkenberg, made easier by the stunning scenery and the beautiful light as the sun came up. Despite the cool weather, jackets were shed rapidly!

After reaching the top, the decent into the valley was welcome. The sunny patches on the other side were the goal.

 After regrouping in the valley, we climbed up (again!) to the tar road leading to the mast. 

After a brief jog up the tar, we turned off onto single track again and jogged through to Picnic Rock. The fast group would have passed picnic rock and run round almost to the Manganese Mines before turning back, but we couldn't see them at all!

The views were good and a group photo was taken, but we got really cold when we stopped so we didn't stay long.

Back down the valley to the Bokkemanskloof turnoff. 

This path has got really overgrown since we were last here but it is a wonderful run.

Halfway down the kloof, Judy slipped off the path and did some major damage to her ankle. Here is where  I am so proud to be part of this group as everyone stopped their run to see how they could help.

She was going into shock, so in no time we had her ankle immobilised with a buff (an essential piece of equipment), raised her leg, someone had an energy bar for some sugar (good to have extra food for emergencies) , and she put on her top (always run with a long sleeved top). 
We were in the shade and it was cold standing still, so Natalie offered her space blanket (never run without this). 
Lorraine had the @safetymountain app on her phone and contacted them immediately for assistance (always run with a cellphone and this app is a life saver). They contacted Metro Search and Rescue. Initially they offered the helicopter but once Judy was feeling stronger she was convinced she could be helped out as the path was very technical, so Metro kept in contact with Lorraine to monitor the situation. 

By this time the fast group had arrived. Jeannine - medic - assessed the injury and said we had done the right things. Richard and Steven, together with Neil decided to help her down. George also ran back to see how he could help.
Geoff had run back with the majority of the group to prevent them freezing and was going to come up to the concrete road with his car to pick her up.

Different ways of assisting Judy were tried, but the most successful was a piggyback offered by Steven!

We took it slowly, Judy was surprisingly cheerful as was Steven and eventually reached the road where Geoff picked her up.

Thanx to everyone who was there for moral-support and assistance. Thanks to @safetymountain and Metro Search & Rescue for support and monitoring

Lots of lessons learnt - as per above comments. Always think of what you may need if things go wrong! 

Footnote: Judy has fractured her fibula and may need surgery. We are thinking of her and hope everything goes well