Kyle Bucklow defended his Old Fisherman’s Trail Challenge title on Sunday 4 June, during the race’s twentieth edition. The 25 kilometre route followed hiking trails with the fishermen used to treat from Hout Bay, on the Atlantic seaboard, to Fish Hoek, on the False Bay coast. The 2023 champion managed to hold off Robbie Rorich, who had to be content with his fourth second place finish in the race; while Taryn King claimed the women’s title for a second time, seven years after her first.
Not many of the nineteen previous running’s featured weather conditions as adverse. Dark clouds delayed dawn breaking over Chapmans Peak and rain fell intermittently on the 300trail runners assembled in at the Hout Bay Yacht Club. It would clear in brief spells throughout the morning before the rain fell heavily just as the final runner crossed the finish line. Fortunately, despite the wet trails which made conditions underfoot slippery in paces, it was not overly cold. Many of the faster runners in fact braved the rain without donning waterproof jackets.
Bucklow was among those who moved fast enough not to require cold weather gear. He set the early tempo running across Hout Bay Beach towards the foot of Chapmans Peak Drive. By the time the race turned off the asphalt and onto the trails at the East Fort only Oli Morris could match Bucklow. Having out descended Jarryd Dunn on Blackburn Ravine in 2022 to win his maiden Old Fisherman’s Trail Title Bucklow used the climb in 2023 to establish an unassailable lead.
“The pace from the top of Blackburn was quick, other than Steenberg there wasn’t a lot of climbing after that,” Bucklow allowed. “It was full tilt down to Boyes Drive because I knew Robbie [Rorich] was coming from the back, so I had to do my best. It was great!”
Bucklow’s margin of victory was an impressive 2 minutes and 14 seconds, over Rorich. Morris finished a further minute and 38 seconds back. In so doing Morris matched his effort from 12 months previously when he finished third on the ‘up run’ from Fish Hoek to Hout Bay.
In the women’s race King returned to the Old Fisherman’s Trail Challenge after a significant absence. Not since her victory in 2016’s Fish Hoek to Hout Bay run had she lined up in the event. Not even a wrong turn could prevent her from adding a ‘down run’ to her palmarès however.
“I took a wrong turn at the top of Blackburn Ravine and had to chase pretty hard,” King explained. “It wasn’t a route making thing, I just went the wrong way and had to fight my way back.” Passing the halfway point, she was in third position on trail, but less than a minute behind Milli Timms and Nicola Vahrmeijer.
In the second half of the course King stamped her authority on the race, establishing an advantage of 6 minutes and 44 seconds over Vahrmeijer by the finish line at the Fish Hoek Beach Sports Club. Timms faded through the closing kilometres and eventually lost out in a sprint for third with Suzaan Hobson. Hobson’s time was 9 minutes and 25 seconds slower than that of King’s winning time of 2 hours, 39 minutes and 10 seconds.
The Old Fisherman’s Trail Challenge is also part of a trio of iconic Cape Town trail runs. The third and final event in the series is the Hout Bay Trail Challenge, which is also the longest of the three. It takes place on the 22nd of July 2023. Entries to the full 40 kilometre race and the 3 person relay are open at www.houtbaychallenge.co.za.
2023 Old Fisherman’s Trail Challenge Results
1. Kyle Bucklow (1:59:49)
2. Robbie Rorich (2:02:03| +2:14)
3. Oli Morris (2:03:41| +3:52)
1. Taryn King (2:39:10)
2. Nicola Vahrmeijer (2:45:54| +6:44)
3. Suzaan Hobson (2:48:35| +9:25)
Photo by Peter Kirk Media.