As part of my many bucket list items for running I have long had an ambition to do a trail running ultra i.e. 50km and over. I had first heard about the Ocean 2 Ocean or Real Two Oceans as it used to be called a couple of years ago whilst out at a trail race on the Cape Peninsula. In a nutshell the Ocean 2 Ocean is a 50km Trail Run (not a race) organised by Dirk McIntosh and Barry Washkansky (@washer77).
It is a guided pack run with a very limited field where everyone is self sufficient. The Ocean 2 Ocean is run at a moderate pace and takes in many of the beautiful trails we have on the Cape Peninsula it is also accepted as a qualifier for Puffer and naturally this meant that I just had to do it!
So the morning of 7th May arrived and I headed down to the Muizenberg Supertube water slide to meet up with the rest of the runners for our pre run briefing at 5:30am and start at 5:45am. Needless to say it was still pitch black when we arrived and cold with low cloud cover. I managed to have a chat with some familiar faces from the trails and was amped to get going. At just before 6am we headed out across Muizenberg Beach for the start and first leg of the O2O to Silvermine Dam. A couple of early morning fishermen got a bit of a surprise as our 30 plus strong group with head torches and packs jogged down the beach towards the catwalk taking us to St James. At St James we regrouped and headed up to Boyes Drive to hit the Old Mule Path trail that would take us onto Kalk Bay Mountain.
Running in the dark up the Mule Path was invigorating and certainly kept the chill out. Dirk was setting a good pace and we stopped briefly before we turned right to check back on the progress of the rest of the group below us. Our group were stretched out along the trail and they looked like fireflies bobbing along on the mountainside as they made their way up the trail. We continued up over Kalk Bay Mountains in the thick mist and then dropped down the trail from Cave Peak to connect with the Jeep Track below Maiden Peak and made our way towards Silvermine. Crossing Ou Kaapse Weg and into Silvermine we then took the River Walk up towards the Dam to make our first major stop. At the dam car park there was a great seconding table with coffee, tea, sweets, biscuits, chips (crisps) on offer. After a quick cuppa and a chat and a regroup we headed off again and onto Leg 2 to Constantia Nek.
From the dam we took the jeep track up to the Crassula Ridge trail above the dam and then continued onto Noordhoek Peak. The weather was pretty miserable still and visibility was poor so we didn’t get to appreciate the magnificent views along the Skyline Panorama path above Chapmans Peak.
Thankfully though we didn’t take a wrong turn or lose any runners along the way either so there were positives. At the top of Blackburn Ravine we then headed up to the Constantiaberg Mast which we couldn’t see or as Dirk put it it was probably a good thing as ‘Joburg’ (one of our runners from upcountry) couldn’t see the climb coming up ahead of us.
At the top we briefly stopped to regroup and catch our breath and listened to the banter of Dougie Rossouw and Michael Ohlsson. If you have met these guys you will know there is never a dull moment when they are around. For those that haven’t met them yet needless to say you won’t forget them when you have. The descent to the Tokai Fire Lookout was going well until I got distracted and took a tumble headfirst into the fynbos below me. As I was falling it was either take out the runners in front of me or pick a soft spot in the bushes, the bushes seemed like the better idea. Thankfully I was near the back of the group at the time and didn’t suffer too much laughter or ridicule although being pulled up by my ankles was a bit embarrassing though I was happy to be on my feet again.
At the Tokai Fire lookout we stopped and admired the views across to the Hottentots as we had left the clouds at the mast and the sun was out.
We ran down the Elephants Eye path joining up with Silvermine Level 5 and headed towards Vlakkenberg. Running on the jeep track at this stage felt kind of odd as we head spent much of the morning on single track but it was good to stretch the legs and spend a bit of time having a chat with some of the other runners. We hit the single track and after uprooting a couple of invasive trees we zig zagged up to the tar road. We took a brief stop to regroup and to patch up one of our group that was having serious knee pain (read popping several myprodols). Funny how popping some pills can suddenly make someone think that they can run over Vlakkenberg and down the other side with no discomfort.
I however was feeling the downhill on the knees a little bit more than normal at this stage and I was glad to see Constantia Nek and the end of leg 2.
At the Nek (30km mark) we regrouped and stopped for some coffee and chatted to the amazing people that had organised the seconding tables for us. They were also runners and were planning on doing the O2O on the next run. It was great to catch up with my wife @beanker and also see @newbert out in support too. We said our goodbyes and headed up the back of Table Mountain to Maclear’s Beacon taking the most direct route up which is one heck of a climb. I thought the break would have helped my knees but it was excruciatingly painful on the way up. We eventually hooked up with the concrete road and walked to just beyond the bridge and then stopped briefly. I was wishing for a set of new knees at this point but after looking around and seeing many of the others with similar aches and pains it lifted me knowing I wasn’t alone. We continued on the road and then joined the trail to Maclear’s Beacon. At the top of Skeleton Gorge we took a left back towards the Hely Hutchinson dam (distressingly low) and then ran across the white sand beach to Disa Gorge. It was surreal running on a “beach” a 1000m2 above sea level and I had to stop to take a few pics.
The trail through Disa Gorge to the aquaduct was slippery and also the first time I had ever taken it which was quite exciting. The King Proteas clinging onto the sides of the mountain were in bloom and quite eye catching and if it weren’t for the cold weather our surroundings would have felt almost tropical with its lush vegetation. The last few climbs up to Maclear’s Beacon felt long and hard as the cloud had covered the mountain now and the wind and cold made our stay at the top 1086m was short-lived.
We descended rapidly, I was now on about my 3rd or 4th wind but I took time to admire the magnificent views as the clouds began to lift. The 40 plus kilometres we had covered were a distant memory as we could see almost all the way to Cape Point and that view alone from near St Michaels’ (I think) was well worth it.
We hit the trail above the Woodhead Dam and then headed to Kasteelpoort Path. The view down was beautiful and I was happy to see Camps Bay below us within touching distance. We were going on our 10th hour and I could almost smell the pizza and taste the beer that awaited us.
The descent was quicker than I had anticipated and whilst gawking at the views and with now quite tired legs I misplaced my step just before joining the Pipe Track and went over on my ankle heavily. Thankfully I didn’t need dragging up this time and I was relieved no one had seen me fall. Knowing that my aches and pains were almost at an end and then regrouping at the Pipe Track to run the final few kms together was awesome. We arrived at the car park in Camps Bay across from Dizzy’s restaurant and many high fives and smiles were exchanged along with a few celebratory beers and glasses of bubbles. We then headed to Dizzy’s for a bite and shared our experiences from our day out on the trails.
The Ocean 2 Ocean is without doubt a must do trail run for any runner that loves running on our beautiful Cape Peninsula and wants a challenge. There is no fanfare or medal for finishing the O2O (there is a very cool shirt though!) but the camaraderie, breathtaking views, challenge and general fun you will have whilst doing this run make it so amazing and a must do. After all these are some of the reasons we run anyway isn’t it?
Try something different, challenge yourself and enjoy our beautiful mountains.