It was a little drizzly on Appleberry Farm above the beautiful trails of the Lebanon Forest when the colourful trail community of the Cape began arriving. With hopeful eyes turned heavenward, we all wished it would just bucket down, as participants practised their queueing techniques ahead of our imminent #DayZero situation.  Coffee and breakfast treats were on sale from early, and the cars poured in, even if the rain did not. In true Cape Style, many left it to the day to enter, but both the short and long course were close to sold-out by the time Cape trail personality, Sean Robson, herded the A batch to the start of the long course race.

The fast pack showed up, indicating that there would be some heat on the course, below the misty, low-hanging cloud.  Trail talent Rory Scheffer appeared in fine form alongside Jono Black, Emmanuel Dlamini and a few other lean machines. Speedsters Tish Jones and Katja Soggot were in the mix in the women’s field, and so when MC Robson heralded the start of the race, they were off in a blur.

With 2km of gradual climb right up front, and plenty more climbing within the first 5km, runners had to work for their single track. But the forest did not disappoint in terms of beauty or fun, as a combination of humidity, mist and a concentrated dose of single track brought them home around the dams. Jono wasn’t quite able to match Rory’s pace after a few km, resulting in a winning time of 00:54:56 for Scheffer. Black followed little more than minute behind him in 00:56:03 with Dlamini rounding out the men’s podium in 00:57:29.

8th overall and first woman was the UK’s gift to SA running, Tish Jones. Jones took the course record, held by Marie Wessels since 2012, from 1:06:32 to 1:02:15. Safe to say, Tishy is back in the zone after some injury niggles. Also within the original record was second woman and first vet, Katja Soggot in a time of 1:06:13. Alexandra Quenet took third in 1:10:24.

The short course runners followed the same course, and hit the same start climb, until 2.3km in where they course split they too enjoyed some fast, flowing single track. Again the pace was blistering from the offset, with Nicholas Quenet and Mhlangabezi Mbuntshu in a battle that saw them finish in 22:27 and 22:33 respectively. Quenet set a new course record after beating Dino Adam’s 2017 time of 23:17. Third man in the short course was 14 year old Jethro Dunn in a time of 27:19. In the women’s race, Tanya Posthumus-Fox took the win in 29:36, followed by Rosslee Guess in 31:23. Simone Rhoda closed out the podium in 32:00.

A superb morning of running through a mixture of pine, Fynbos and orchards in a picturesque setting.

Prize giving was the usual combination of outstanding lucky draw prizes from the sponsors and organisers, as well as podium recognition for all the age categories, including the Pee-Wees who seem to get faster each season! If Race 1 was anything to go by, then we’re in for another great summer series.

Next up is the popular sunset run at Kirstenbosch Gardens on 30 January. Remember that headlamps are compulsory, and pre-entry is highly recommended.

With thanks to the great brands and businesses that add so much to each event; Raidlight, Peak Performance Fitness, Steenberg, Mountain Dew and WWF.

A selection of images is on our website, with many more on the Trail Series® Facebook page. Full results are here.