Header shot by Mike Eloff | Last Updated: 31-01-19

After a truly spectacular first round of the MRS on the 12/1 (read the full debrief here) it’s finally time to get stuck into the second of the six races that will be happening this year: enter the Day Of Downhill.

“Three Peaks. Three Descents. Downhill Running Only”

The first event (The Constantia Classic TT) was very much a pilot process in terms of finding out whether we could indeed gather 35 keen trail runners, get them all to the startline on time, and have them give their absolute best effort along the race route. There were a few concerns, like “what if we’re stopped and told we cant do this thing” or “what if we receive a hundred complaints”, but by and large, as evidenced by all those that took part and supported, it set the tone for this next race, which in many ways (as I’m sure you’ll come to agree) could be a lot more tricky!

1. Introduction

I’ve long wanted to stage this event, and to prove that point, I made a move script to “promote” this as a stand alone gig well over a year ago with many other project musings still unbaked. If there’s one thing in my trail running arsenal that I’d claim to be “deadly”, its my technical downhill (specifically endurance downhills) running. Believe me or not, but I’m trying really hard here to not write a 3000 word piece on why the sheer adrenaline and crystalline focus you obtain during the mid stages of a technically demanding downhill is something out of body. More spiritual than physical. A purity in motion only to be experienced by those that are able to synchronise body and mind for a few fleeting moments.

The Day Of Downhill (DOD) concept revolves around three of the most iconic peaks in Cape Town: Lions Head, Table Mountain and Devils Peak,. These three mountains offer some of Cape Town’s best descents, and although there are arguable better suiters not far off (like Kasteelpoort, India Venster or Newlands Ravine) none are more infamous than the descent from up top Devils Peak, the summit of Lions Head, and the top of Platteklip Gorge. The commonality between these three technical descents is their shared elevation starting/finishing points along the trustworthy Tafelberg Road that runs right across Cape Towns proudest offering – it’s mountains.

The DOD is all about total accumulated downhill running time over the course of one day, and can be summarised as an overall endurance effort whereby all aspects of ones downhill run abilities will be tested. Let’s get into the specifics of how this will work.

The Three Descents

2. Overview

2.1 Initial:

You should be familiar with the three Strava segments The Glen, Devils Peak & Platteklip (listed above). The DOD will take on an “enduro’esque” format whereby you will effectively be running against the clock, in a time-trial style race, aiming to have the lowest total accumulated race time at the end of the day (the finish of the last summit). This total time will then be used to calculate your overall position and result for this second Micro-Race-Series event.

2.2 Day’s Proceedings:

The schedule of the DOD will be as follows: throughout race day on the 09 March 2019, there will be three separate start times – one for each of the three descents – and the contenders (those participating) will be required to meet at the top of each (the start of each descent) at these different times throughout the morning of the event.

Before each descent actually begins, there will be an official “group hike/shuffle” to the top in order to build some tension and allow contenders to chat and meet each other (we don’t anticipate much socialising on the actual descent!). Participants can choose whether or not to join these shuffles to the top, as some will more than likely want to get warmed up by having a run to the top. Either way, all that counts is that all 35 contenders are present for race-briefing, at the summit of each peak, at the designated time (this will be relayed closer to race day).

When it comes to actual racing mechanics, we will be utilising a stop-and-go method to “release” one contender every 15-30 seconds. Obviously it wouldn’t be wise to try send 35 runners down a fine lined, technical descent at the same time, so the second best option to try avoid congestion is to stagger the start out as much as possible to ensure that when participants do need to pass each other, its (hopefully) done in a more controlled, single file manner.

Before the start of each stage, a quick briefing and update will take place to inform all those present of the (then) current time rankings to spice things up and keep the hunger to push downwards alive. Once a runner reaches the finish of a descent, their time will be recorded (we will provide timing) and they will have finished that stage of the DOD (there are three stages). Participants will be free to do whatever they please (run, swim, chill etc) until the next start time, and group/hike upward. The three descents will be ordered, 1st The Glen (06:00am start), 2nd Platteklip Gorge (09:00am start), 3rd Devils Peak (12:00pm). These starts times are currently estimated and may change closer to race day.

2.3 Qualification & Entry:

As with the first MRS event the DOD will have a total of 35 contenders, approximately 70% of which will be made up from the Strava segment based qualification process (the remaining 30% will be invited directly). For this second event, the qualifying Strava segment will be “FKTseries: The Glen Down“: the segment starts at the very top of the well known Glen Forest (alongside Lions Head), at the steps right by Kloof Nek. Be sure to start/stop your watch a little earlier/later to ensure you capture the segment upon uploading your effort (in the event you cant see it, let us know!) and include “#MicroRaceSeries Day of Downhill” in the title of your Strava activity for it to be eligible.

2.4 Prizes & Post Race:

The good people at Jack Blacks Brewery and the cool cats at Bos Sport are providing premium ‘beverage packages’ as prizes for the Top 3 Females & Males on the day. This event will culminate with the final descent from the top of Devils Peak, where at the bottom along Tafelberg Road, all contenders, supporters and the FKT team will enjoy some refreshing beverages with one of the best views in the city. Even if you’re just spectating, please come along and show your support throughout this epic morning. The estimated finish time and start of the post event wrap up is 13:00pm.

Entries through this qualification process will be open till (and on) 25th February 2019. No late entries will be considered and the organisers decisions is final.

3. Specifics

  • Start Locations (in order): 1st The Glen (top at steps), 2nd Platteklip Gorge (top at beacon), 3rd Devils Peak (top at summit).
  • A group qualifying round will take place in February (tbc) to allow those not certain of the route, to set their times.
  • In the event that Lions Head remains closed due to the fire, a “surprise” alternative will be selected on race day.
  • There will be prizes for the Top 3 Men & Women, kindly provided by Jack Blacks Brewery & Bos Ice Tea.
  • Entries available: 70% based upon your qualifier ranking on FKTseries: The Glen Down leaderboard.
  • Race Start Times: There will be three, tbc via email (estimated 06:00am, 09:00am & 12:00am).
  • Once the final 35 contenders have been established a public list will be made available.
  • Strava based qualifications are open until 25 February 2019 (on the day counts too).
  • Route Info: Download GPX‘s for all three (note that only the descent is relevant).
  • Your Strava entry/s must be titled “#MicroRaceSeries Day of Downhill“.
  • Race Date: Saturday, 09 March 2019 (this is a one day event).
  • Championship: This is the #2 race of the 2019 MRS.
  • See the official MRS website for Rules & FAQ’s.
  • Race Participants: maximum of 35 (total).

This post may be updated a few times within the next few days, but these are the core specifics and I hope it all makes sense. For any questions or feedback, as usual, please feel free to mail us at hello@fktseries.co.za



Lucas R Adams (@lucasradams) is the Editor-in-Chief of the FKTseries project and shares personal “long-reads” on the philosophical aspects on running and life. Follow him on Strava

As always, thank you for taking a few minutes out of your day to read this, we really appreciate “your eyes and ears”. To stay in the loop, please be sure to follow the fktseries project by signing up to our newsletter for words, on Instagram for images, and YouTube for videos, plus feel free to join our Strava Club. Lastly, any feedback or commentary you may have is highly prized, good or bad, so don’t be shy to share it: hello@fktseries.co.za is the best place.

Leave a Reply