Monday, July 17, 2017

Running in Cape Town #2: Waterfront and Boardwalk rather than downtown

I love leveraging my passion for running to discover the new countries and cities I visit, and share what I see for those who can make the trip. Unfortunately, there are a few places where running on your own is dangerous and South Africa is one. It's even an issue for locals and natives, even more so for tourists. On Friday, I decided to hike a non urban place, Lion's Head. On Saturday, I went to explore downtown but I quickly felt uncomfortable as, a few blocks from the financial district, I got into either entrances to highways or homeless people sleeping on the sidewalk. I was hoping to run along the Ocean on the North side but that's not an option, with the busy industrial harbor. Disappointed, I turned back and passed by the City Hall. It was Saturday morning and, except for a craft market in front of the Town Hall, the city was super quiet.

From there, I traversed a busier area and made my way toward the place all tourists end up in Cape Town: the V&A Waterfront (V&A for Victoria & Alfred). By chance, I ran into Agn├Ęs who was on her way to check if we could get last minute tickets to visit Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela and many other apartheid opponents and activists were imprisoned for many years of their lives. It was oversold already, she will go with Greg, when she is back here after Namibia. I was at least able to visit the small exhibit at the deck.

I resumed my run along the shore and found these signs for a 3.1-mile loop from the Waterfront.

I ran part of it but then continued farther South along the Ocean.

Wonderful place to log a few miles, away from the dangerous car traffic and with views of the incredibly powerful waves breaking on the rocky or sandy beaches.
On Sunday night, after our trip to Boulders Beach (to see the adorable African penguins) and the spectacular Cape Point and Cape of Good Hope, I went back on the his boardwalk and pushed to the end of the sidewalk at the exit of Camps Bay, after going through Clifton.
It was dark already (sun sets before 6 pm in winter), but I could hear the Ocean's breakers for the 6 miles (and back) so the views must be incredible all the way (the Ocean on one side and Table Mountain on the other). By the way, I ran with a headlamp, just to be safer, but the boardwalk (Cap Town) and sidewalk (Clifton and Camps Bay) have street light most of the way. There are also bathrooms in many places on this route, albeit not open at night.
Note that there is also a mile-worth of smooth, flat and straight bike path along Main Street, starting at the National Stadium.

Here are the 3D flyover videos from Saturday and Sunday.

From my short 3-day experience of Cape Town, this boardwalk is the ideal place to log miles if you are staying near Sea Point or Green Point; highly recommended route if you visit the Mother City!

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Running in Cape Town #1: tricky and steep hike on the Lion's Head

I landed at 1 pm in Cape Town on Friday, after leaving Paris at 7 pm the day before (connection in Frankfurt and Johannesburg) and, by 4 pm, I was ready to explore one of the key hills or mountains above the Mother City. I had actually no idea what this run was going to be but I could see some traces along the mountain which looked like trails and the neighborhoods looked wealthy and safe enough.
I had heard about the famous Table Mountain but that first one was called Lion's Head, and looking over a very nice area of the city including Sea Point and Green Point where we were staying.
The first steep climb was actually in the direction of Signal Hill, entering the park through the entrance at the end of Springbok and Glengariff Roads.

Looking back already gives you nice views of the city, for instance the stadium built for the recent Soccer World Cup.
And other users were enjoying these aerial views as well while paragliding!

The rocky and steep trail reminded my of last week's Montagn'Hard. The sharp rocks made running too hard actually and I was already missing my new Leiki poles!
Going around Signal Hill, I reached Signal Hill Road and was impressed with what remained to be climbed to get to the top of Lion's Head. I took the trail going straight to the top on the North side, still quite a rocky path.

The end was more climbing than hiking, with ladders and chains.

Short of time, I didn't quite make it to the summit, it wasn't worth the risk of falling, I already had enjoyed rather amazing aerial views of the city and the beautiful sunset.

Signal Hill:
 Downtown and the harbor:
 Clifton and Camps Bay:

Here is the Lion's Head casting its huge shadow on the nearby Table Mountain.

I took the South route/trail to go down, a very smooth one which most of the tourists use. But that led me on the other side of the park, at the entrance of the Table Mountain National Park. From there, I took the road back to downtown, with a reasonably good sidewalk on the right side.

The overall route and profile on Strava:
And, more interestingly, look at the 1-minute 3D flyover animation on

Again, more a hike than a run, but a great way to get some perspective on the Mother City!