Kane and Samantha Reilly completed a sibling double by racing to victory in the 2023 Hout Bay Trail Challenge; on Saturday, 22 July. The event is one of Cape Town’s most fabled trail runs and was celebrating its twenty first edition. Seldom, given the race’s mid-winter date, has it enjoyed such good weather however. The temperatures were cool throughout, the wind eased during the day and the predicted rain held off until after the race was wrapped up. A fact which the Reillys, as well as their 150 fellow starters, revelled in as they took on the challenging 40 kilometre course.
Starting and finishing at the Hout Bay Yacht Club, in the Hout Bay Harbour; the 2023 route climbed the Karbonkelberg to the west of the coastal suburb, taking in ascents to the Radar Station and Suther Peak. It then descended to the seashore at Sandy Bay, followed a footpath to Llandudno and climbed past Aid Station 1, at the Suikerbossie Restaurant, and up to Woodhead Dam. After a descent to Aid Station 2, at Constantia Nek, leg three of the race took runners up Vlakkenberg and down to Hout Bay beach via the East Fort. It total, the course included 2 500 metres of climbing and presented a technical test too.
The combination of arduous climbing and technical trails suited Kane Reilly to perfection. He seized the initiative from the off; building a 2 minute and 46 second lead by the first aid station, at the 13 kilometre mark. From over the next 15 kilometres, to Constantia Nek, which are considered to make up the toughest section of the route he extended his advantage. Kyle Bucklow was best able to follow Reilly’s pace, but even the reigning Muizenberg and Old Fisherman’s Trail Challenge champion found himself 13 minutes behind the leader at the second aid station. On the final 11 kilometre leg the would-be winner added another 9 minutes to his advantage, winning the 2023 Hout Bay Trail Challenge in a time of 4 hours, 5 minutes and 1 second.
The victory was Kane Reilly’s fifth in five starts at the race, and his first since 2019. He was however unable to challenge his 2018 course record of 3 hours and 54 minutes. Though that time was set on route with one less significant climb. “I love this route I really do!” he grinned after sealing the win. “Every time I run the Hout Bay Trail Challenge; I realise that this is my favourite trail run. It was a really good day, one of those days were things just feel good.”
“It’s hard to tell if going to Llandudno and climbing from there affected the time,” Reilly revealed. “I find it hard to compare one year to another at trail runs, even on the exact same route, so I don’t know if the course change affected my time. I didn’t run under 4 hours though and I felt like I ran pretty hard, so maybe it was a little longer, but it’s so difficult to say.”
Bucklow crossed the finish line 22 minute and 7 seconds after Reilly to claim second and wrap up the 2023 Tripple Crown. Having already won the Muizenberg Trail and Old Fisherman’s Trail Challenge earlier in the winter Bucklow was head and shoulders above his rivals on the leader board for athletes who did all three. He and Reilly were joined on the solo men’s Hout Bay Trail Challenge podium by Kyle Nortje, who took part in the race before emigrating to New Zealand on Sunday.
In the women’s race Samantha Reilly was even more dominant than her brother, but her victory was not as smooth. Taking part in her fist Hout Bay Trail Challenge since 2019 she ran to an 8 minute lead over the first 13 kilometres, to Suikerbossie Restaurant. A wrong turn on the trails near the highest point of the course then earned her a 30 minute time penalty. Despite that Reilly still did enough to win the solo women’s category by 32 minutes and 5 seconds over Leigh de Necker.
“It was a great day and I’m happy with how I ran, despite feeling a bit silly for taking a wrong turn,” Samantha Reilly confessed. “Still, it was a good to be able to feel great and run so well. I’m training for Mont Blanc’s OCC race and while I was nervous about running such a technical race a month out from such a big goal it was amazing to get confirmation that my training is going so well.”
Samantha Reilly and Le de Necker were joined on the women’s podium by Jess Barrow, who also claimed the veterans’ women’s title for her efforts. Alongside the solo men’s and women’s competitions the Hout Bay Trail Challenge also featured a relay team’s race. The Do Leki Make Crutches team of Mike Obery, Julian Dean-Brown and Brode Gleeson won the men’s team category, ahead of the Olympic Outbacks squad of Keith Court, Ryan Winter and Damian Will. The Gazelles – Kate Mapham, Jada Linstrom and Nadine Van Driel – won the women’s team race, while the Not so Faster Masters’ Dale Symons, Julie Huckle and Allan Benn were the fastest mixed team.
Runner safety was ensured and route marshalling was provided by the Volunteer Wildfire Services (VWS) and SANParks Honorary Rangers. VWS are also the event’s charity partners and benefit from race’s success in order to fund their fire fighting work on Table Mountain and beyond. The Honorary Rangers also assist with path maintenance, which not only benefits the trail runners who took part in the Hout Bay Trail Challenge but every hiker and runner exploring the tracks which criss-cross the mountain.
For more information on the Hout Bay Trail Challenge visit www.houtbaychallenge.co.za
Image: The descent into Hout Bay is one of the highlights of the route, because of the spectacular views it provides. Photo by Peter Kirk Media
2023 Hout Bay Trail Challenge Results
- Kane Reilly (4:05:01)
- Kyle Bucklow (4:27:08 | +22:07)
- Kyle Nortje (4:53:21 | +48:20)
- Samantha Reilly (5:20:23 | Including 30 Minute Time Penalty)
- Leigh de Necker (5:52:28 | +32:05)
- Jess Barrow (6:02:37 | +42:14)
- Do Leki Make Crutches: Mike Obery, Julian Dean-Brown & Brode Gleeson (4:30:09)
- Olympic Outbacks: Keith Court, Ryan Winter & Damian Will (4:50:47 | +20:38)
- Bosch: Stefan Blommaert, Nicolaas van Wyk & Werne Kritzinger (4:59:09 | +29:00)
- Gazelles: Kate Mapham, Jada Linstrom & Nadine Van Driel (5:00:42)
- Unknowns: Candi Warren-Smith, Suzie Caras & Megan Skowno (6:00:03 | +59:21)
- Striped Unicorns: Roule Le Roux, Janet Shaw & Chantel Nortje (6:02:32 | +1:01:50)
- Not so Faster Masters: Dale Symons, Julie Huckle & Allan Benn (5:01:36)
- Devil’s Peak: Annene Mare, Nick Sims & Rodney Woodman (5:52:26 | +50:50)
- Zlaant: Cailin Whyte, Alexander Hwande & Nicholas Rupanga (6:00:05 | 58:29)