UTCT Survival Apparatus: 21km & 35km

Posted on 24/10/2019

Ultra Trail Cape Town (UTCT) is rapidly approaching. It is considered to be one of the world class events hosted on South African soil, with the Mother city playing host to some big names in the trail running community both locally and internationally. It’s an exciting event which allows you to traverse the epic mountain that towers over the city. The terrain covered consist of steep ascents and descents and is technical, oh how we love some technical trail!

The Kit List for an event such as this can strike fear into the heart of any runner, and strain the relationship between you and your bank account even more than Months End. Unfortunately however, there is a reason you need these items as things can go pear shaped very quickly out on a mountain top and you need to be prepared for this possibility. The problem is, how do you know what to use, how do you choose?

In preparation for this prestigious event, we spoke to some very rad mountains goats who have run, raced and/or podiumed, at UTCT in previous years, for their advice on how to approach this rad event and what they used to keep safe on the mountain!

Bianca Tarboton; 21km, 1200m+ 

“The 21km route is a perfect mixture of everything. It starts with a super runnable jeep track section, then there’s a power hiking climb up the classic newlands ravine, a technical downhill from the saddle to tafelberg road and finally a cruisy jeeptrack downhill to the end. It’s super fun and exciting and the vibe waiting for you at the finish makes it even better! Cowbells, vibey music, cheering crowds- the whole UTCT atmosphere is just really rad and special.

Make sure to take a hydration pack with lots of water! That time of the year gets hot and the ravine takes longer than you expect- a good time to get in a gel or some form of nutrition too!
Don’t go full out on the first jeep track section- as tempting as it may be. Save your energy energy for the climb up to the upper contour and, of course, Newlands Ravine. Once you get to the top of the ravine it’s all downhill from there so make sure you’ve got some legs to take control of the technical downs- and don’t forget to take in the views! They’re pretty rad.”

Bianca completes her compulsory gear check with the following:

  • SHOES: Salomon S/Lab Sense 7
  • Waterproof jacket with integrated hood and taped seams: Salomon lightning waterproof jacket
  • Buff/beanie:  Salomon active beanie
  • Running pack: Salomon sense ultra 8
  • Long sleeve thermal/arm warmers: Lightning pro LS hoodie
  • Whistle: integrated in the pack
  • Personal Cup: N/A
  • Hydration: 2x 500 ml Salomon soft bottles
  • Survival blanket and adhesive bandage.
  • Charged phone
  • Headlamp/torch: Petzl Tikka
  • Recommended – Anti-Chafe: Squirrels Nut Butter
  • Optional – Trekking Poles: N/A
  • Personal Extras: Food Reserve (min 250kCal): SuperBar ‘I am training’ bars, HiFive 30mg caffeine gels

Images: Left – unknown; Right – Barbara Cole (@barbscole)

Mvuyisi Ncogco; 35km, 2000m+ 

“UTCT 35km is always one of the great races to me because it’s always packed with great athletes and good vibes. Last year was one of those races that I was feeling really strong and really ready to push against all odds but I rolled/twisted my ankle just before water point 1 and the rest of the race was ran according to what my ankle allowed me to do. I manage to sneak into 3rd place. I am feeling supper excited about the views on top of table mountain,  which are always heart-warming, the great people at water points and that nervousness of climbing Patteklip gorge and that hill going to Pump house. The race is like a holiday run to me because it’s only once a year I get to be on top of Table Mountain. This year I expect nothing but a good run and try to improve my previous years times. I’m an ambassador for Aonijie, Boldgear and use Hoka shoes. I use what I have and am very happywith it. What I used the most when I ran last years race was Nuun, water, potatoes and banana at water points but now I use Tailwind nutrition.”

Mvuyisi completes his compulsory gear check with the following:

  • SHOES: Hoka Instinct Trail shoes
  • Waterproof jacket with integrated hood and taped seams: Salomon Bonnatti WP Jacket
  • Buff/beanie: Tailwind nutrition buff
  • Running pack: Aonijie Gale Force Vest
  • Long sleeve thermal/arm warmers: Arm Sleeves from Alaxandria Trail Run
  • Whistle: Integrated on pack
  • Personal cup: Aonijie Collapsable Cup
  • Survival blanket and adhesive bandage.
  • Charged phone
  • Headlamp/torch
  • Recommended – Anti-Chafe: Vaseline
  • Optional – Trekking Poles: No stick .. my legs will manage

Johan De Klerk; 35km, 2000m+ 

“The 35km race is the shortest of the distances taking place on Saturday but should not be underestimated. The organisers refer to it as the “belly of the beast”, as the route takes participants up Platteklip Gorge, past Maclear’s Beacon and then down Nursery Ravine. As the race starts at 8am, runners should expect a few hours in the heat at the start and tail-end. Don’t expect any free kilometres in the first half of the race as the legs get loaded with a big climb and some technical descents before reaching the Newlands contour path. The section on top of the mountain is notoriously difficult and sudden weather changes at 1000m above sea level demand proper equipment – a waterproof jacket, first aid kit and plenty of food and hydration is compulsory for good reason.  A conservative race strategy allows runners to enjoy the flowing forest trails leading to UCT, before one last push up to the King’s Blockhouse and home along the contour. Some extra must-haves include a generous amount of sunscreen, electrolytes and/or salt tablets to avoid cramping and some patience as bottlenecks on the Platteklip Gorge climb and Nursery Ravine descent are mostly unavoidable.”

Johan completes his compulsory gear check with the following:

This week we look at the 21km and 35km races. The kit lists remain similar over the distances, however the advice on how to approach the races differs greatly. Stay tuned to read about the 65km and 100km from two experienced trail junkies! They’ve got some solid advice on the way!

Hopefully we have managed to strike a good combination of both fear and froth in your belly for what is going to be a flipping rad day out! Go check out our featured column for all your compulsory gear and gadgets. Please leave us a comment below if you’re running or have any burning questions regarding the race or required gear.

Happy Running Fam!


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