The 3 Falls Trail Run 2016

The 3 Falls Trail Run 2016

Enjoying myself in Kloof Gorge during the 3 Falls Trail Run
Enjoying myself in Kloof Gorge during the 3 Falls Trail Run

Despite living just minutes from Kloof Gorge (Krantzkloof Nature Reserve) it’s an area I haven’t explored (let alone run through) since I was a child. So when I saw this year’s 3 Falls Trail Run in the race calendar I knew it was an event I could not miss. Sadly however, by the time I got to it entries were closed and I was left cursing my “I’ll do it later” attitude. On the plus side there was an option to add your name to a waiting list, which I did, ever hopeful.

Almost immediately I got a personal response confirming I was on the waiting list and that I would get another mail should a spot open up. A few days later I received a second mail informing me that they were upping the number of runners from 300 to 350 which meant that there was a spot open for me, should I still want it. There was no delay this time and I responded almost immediately with a bold YES. I was in!

This resulted in me receiving a few more e-mails confirming my entry. These mails included a route profile and had a few awesome parts like…

“If you have not trained it will be hard!” and “This is one of the toughest short-course events in SA!”

I’m not sure if these were put there to scare people, but all they did were excite me. It was game on!

I arrived at the start well before the race began. However thanks to the long queue for a single toilet I missed the race briefing and started at the back of the pack. This suited me fine as I was unsure as to what to expect and planned to take it easy, knowing there were some tough climbs on the 19km route.

The race began with a 2km road section before entering the reserve at the Nkutu Picnic Site. From there were ran through a small forest before the scenery opened up into beautiful grasslands. We then crossed the Ingulube (Bushpig) stream before hitting our first climb into another larger forest.

Unbeknownst to me I’d already made my first mistake. Having started at the back I should have made up time over this open section. Since once we entered the forest it was tight single track along treacherous cliffs, and overtaking was near impossible. So for the next 45 minutes I was boxed in among a group of slower runners, walking the tougher sections of the trail. This however may have been a blessing in disguise as I later discovered.

At the 6km mark we left the forest and made our way down the Nkonka Crack. Shortly after popping out the bottom we passed the Nkonka Falls, before making our way up the other side using a few ladders. Here we reached the highest point on the course.

We then briefly left the reserve at Watsonia Place and crossed Bridle Road before entering the reserve once again. From here we descended back into the gorge through thick forests and finally reached our first water table. After enjoying my usual coke and water mix I grabbed a small Bar-One and headed back into the forest. This proved to be my second mistake as I still seemed to be chewing it 15 minutes later.

We there joined the Longshadows Trail and headed up the Molweni Valley, crossing the Molweni River. Shortly after this we another stream at the top of mPithi (Blue Duiker) Falls, before plunging into the valley where we passed by the bottom of the falls.

The the mPithi (Blue Duiker) Falls
The the mPithi (Blue Duiker) Falls

Having enjoyed the views of mPithi Falls we crossed Kloof Falls road to our second and final watering table. From there we continued along the well worn path of the Molweni Trail, passed the main Kloof Falls. This section was home to some hair raising cliffs which we were far too close for my liking. In fact there were one or two sections which were forced walks due to their proximity to death.

This area is home to a crowned eagle’s nest and SANParks were kind enough to position some honoury rangers there for anyone wanting to enjoy the views.

From there we crossed Ronald’s Kloof weir before joining the Beacon (Orange) Trail. We then entered the Gulley, which was another technical section ending with another ladder climb.

It was at this point that I started to notice the onset of ITB in my left knee (perhaps the slow start had help delay this to later in the run, thankfully). This made the next section through open grasslands surprisingly tricky as I started favouring my right leg and feeling each little bump in the trail. With around 6kms to go it was going to be tough!

We then made our way down a steep, rocky section which was a blessing in disguise. Due to the tough terrain we were forced to walk which meant only minor pain in my knee during the descent. There were apparently good views of Uve Falls here, although I somehow managed to miss them. At the bottom we crossed the Molweni River at Splash Rock and then we hit the toughest part of the run – The Wall!

The Wall is exactly what it sounds like, a long tough climb of extreme gradients. Two hundred and eighty meters of climbing in just over a kilometer to be exact. Amazingly this was again a good section for me as the climbing forced us to walk, which in this case meant zero pain on the knee.

Sadly all good things come to an end and after reaching the top of the Wall, which ended with a short section of rock climbing, we slowly made our way out of the reserve and back onto the roads. This meant a few slow, painful kilometers on the tar before reaching the finishing line at Forest View Primary School.

Despite the knee pain it was an amazing event and I’ll definitely be back next year. A big thank you to the organisers who are all volunteers. Of all the events I’ve taken part in, this had by far the best service which is saying a lot.