“What is man without the beasts?
For if all the beasts were gone, man would die of a great loneliness of the spirit.”
These wise words were uttered way back in the mid 1800s by a rather astute Native American chap named Chief Seattle. We must presume, of course, that he was referring not only to those of the male persuasion dying of loneliness if all beasts were gotten rid of, but us gals too.
Of course he did.
They did care about women too in those days… well, every now and then.
But I digress. Back to the importance of beasts and the like. Here in Cape Town we now have our very own Beast. And he’s a real brute – he’s huge, he’s tough, he looms high above us all, he’s often grumpy – even savage at times, he demands and commands respect, and he throws his weight around like no other. Quite deviously, he appears at first to be less demanding than what he actually is, and he only bears his true monstrous character a couple of hours after you first meet him.
I refer to this Beast – all 49 growling, snarling, vicious kilometres of it – as male, but no one’s really sure, the verdict’s out. Some say The Beast has to be female – that every time you think things are calming down and getting easier, she bites even harder. Some even refer to her as a bitch of a beast – not only female but teenage, nagging constantly, slowly wearing you down. Just when you think you’ve got that teenager under some semblance of control, she comes back to bite you, sharper, nastier and more unpredictable than before.
Others believe The Beast is male, flexing his testosterone-pumped ego-fuelled muscles at every opportunity. One runner went as far as to say The Beast must be male because he has two balls: a curve ball and Trevor Ball.
Speaking of the Tee Ball himself, grand designer of this terrifying beastie akin only to Roald Dahl’s ghastly menagerie of dirty beasts, I asked Trevor what gender he considered The Beast. This is how he replied: “It’s an inner Beast, so not gender specific. Release your Beast on the trails! It’s like the Abominable Snowman, big and hairy; it’s like Medusa, it has a head full of snakes that keep biting you and never let up; it’s like the Hulk, it grows huge with rage but is benign if you chill and flow with it.”
Appropriately described, The Beast is Cape Town’s newest trail race, and falls under the Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon suite of events. Tipping in just short of 50km, the race is a true ultra, both in distance and difficulty. And, quite simply, this one’s a champ – the route is varied, starting comfortably and growing increasingly tougher as the course progresses.
Starting at the Old Zoo, The Beast has runners following the upper contour path across the front face of Table Mountain, around Kloof Corner, and along the full length of the pipetrack. Then the hairiness begins: haul up Corridor Ravine, onto the spine path and northwards across 12 of the 17 Apostles via the Valley of the Red Gods (over Slangolie, Spring, Wood, Postern, Kasteels, Valken, Barrier, Jubilee, Porcupine, Grotto, Fountain, and Cairn buttresses). Then across the front top of the Table to Maclears Beacon, and diagonally to Hely Hutchinson dam via Echo Valley. After that, the legs face a couple of km’s on the concrete jeep track before hopping onto the Smuts Track to get to Nursery Ravine for the quads to be truly tested. Once on the (not-so) contour path below, the final eight or so km’s call for serious grit.
Trevor knows this one’s a winner: “The Beast route is the culmination of years of planning (dating back to early TMC days) and a lot of work convincing SANParks that we will be eco-friendly and safe. I believe trail running must be an adventure, and The Beast is exactly that!”
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