Can you imagine running up and down some of the most challenging peaks on Table Mountain and the Cape Peninsula totaling a distance of 110km in less than 24 hours?
That is exactly what Anele Bans did in an attempt to complete the 13 Peaks Challenge. A epic mountain adventure challenge set out by Ryan Sandes.
I headed out very early in the morning (2am to be exact) from the top of Signal Hill on Saturday the 31st of October 2020. It was pitch black and very windy, but otherwise air temp was cool and comfortable.
Signal Hill (Peak 1) was the first peak as well as the last peak on which I would finish. Once I had descended Signal Hill my aim was to go up Lion’s Head (Peak 2) and down within one hour. And then towards Maclears Beacon (Peak 3) up Kloof Corner, onto the contour path, up Plattekloof.
I reached the top of Peak 3, Maclears Beacon around 3:30am. It was still dark and I could have run a little faster if it wasn’t for the wind, which was still very strong. Feeling pretty good at this stage, I took a slow descent, as had to be careful not to get any injuries or fatigue so early into the challenge. It was a long descent towards Echo Valley but I felt strong.
I continued going down smoothly and came face to face with a caracal which was right in my path. It was still dark and I noticed the caracal’s eyes glowing in the light of my headlamp. It eventually ran off after a few attempts to scare it.
As the sun rose I was chasing time to climb Grootkop (Peak 4) and Judas (Peak 5) with the aim to reach Suikerbossie Restaurant by 6am to meet my support crew at my first aid station.
I arrived at Suikerbossie just before 6am, happy to have made up some good time, but my support crew hadn’t arrived yet. I had enough Tailwind Nutrition and some bars to keep me going until the next aid station, and was still feeling fine. So I decided not to wait and continue onto the next peak which was Klein Leeu Kop (Peak 6). Before descending, I texted my support crew to let them know that I would meet them at the next aid station.
By then the sun was up and it was getting warmer. The wind unfortunately was still blowing and getting stronger. Meeting my support crew at the bottom of Suther Peak I didn’t waste any time dropping off my hydration pack and grabbing a 500ml bottle of Tailwind to start the next climb up Suther Peak (Peak 7).
Climbing Suther Peak was an unexpected challenge as I had a strong head wind all the way up to the top. I came across a group of hikers which slowed me down slightly on the descent back to the parking lot (but that didn’t affect my time at all).
ANELE ON SUTHER PEAK
I had a short 5min break in the parking lot and switched running shoes to my On CloudFlow road running shoes, as I was about to hit some tar road, which the CloudFlow is more suited to. I headed down to Hout Bay Vida Café which was my 3rd aid station and took a 10min break to have some breakfast with my support crew.
After breakfast I loaded up with bananas, tailwind and nutrition bars as it was going to be 4 to 5 hours in the mountain before I could meet up with my support crew again so needed to ensure I had enough nutrition to last until then.
STILL FULL OF SMILES ON CHAPMAN’S PEAK
Chapmans Peak (Peak 8) was the next peak to tackle. The tar section going up Chapman’s Peak Drive was tough, but I soldiered on as I was feeling strong. However the wind once again became a challenge and I had to walk between running.
Chapmans Peak Trail was the next section of this climb and again I swopped shoes back to my On Cloudventure trail shoes to get me up the rocky trail section.
Noordhoek Peak (Peak 9) was next but unfortunately I took a wrong turn! Went off about 800m and back again which unfortunately wasted a bit of time.
By this stage I had been running for over 8 hours with an elevation gain of 3500m. My legs were starting to take some strain. However I pushed hard on the open gravel road and managed to save some time. Reaching my 4th aid station at Silvermine Gate 2.
After a quick 5 minute break I went off to completed Muizenberg Peak (Peak 10) which is one of the less challenging peaks and back to the aid station for a 10 minute break.
AT THE AID STATION. 70KM AND 10 PEAKS DONE!
From here I knew things were about to get tougher! I pushed hard to make up some time as I knew Constantiaberg (Peak 11) will become a mental game. An incredibly tough climb with already 75km of running behind me. It was up a trail section and then down a tar section which was heavy on my knees.
Onto Vlakkenberg Trail I gained some momentum and made up some time I had lost walking / running the tar descent of Constantiaberg.
At the top of Vlakkenberg I met up with Guy who with the rest of my support crew were concerned as they had lost track of me. It turned out my phone was off, which is why they had lost the track signal.
At the bottom of Constantia Nek my 2nd last aid station was waiting for me. By now it was just before 5pm and I had already clocked 80km of running. My knees were taking strain! I had a quick 10 minute break and as arranged, had my friend Guy who was going to second me from there. I was grateful for the company.
MY AMAZING SUPPORT CREW WITH GUY ON MY LEFT. READY TO SECOND ME FOR THE REMAINDER OF MY CHALLENGE.
With two peaks left to go, it was starting to get tough! I wanted to do Klassenkop (Peak 12) as quickly as possible and waste no time, but my knees were begging me to slow down. It was a very slow decent going down a technical Nursery Ravine. The sun was setting quickly at this stage and we were losing a lot of time.
ON KLASSENKOP PEAK
On the contour path about 3km before turning left to one of the toughest climbs, we started going Newlands Ravine when we received a call from a friend to let us know that there was a fire on the slopes of Table Mountain and we needed to be careful. As we reached the top we could see the flames in the distance and quickly went down to the saddle before we could start clibming the devil himself.
FIRE ON TABLE MOUNTAIN FROM OUR VIEW POINT
At the top of Devils Peak (Peak 13) the wind was pumping at about 40 to 50 km/h and we nearly got blown off the mountain. We had to grab onto the big rocks for a few seconds to hold ourselves steady. As we descended the trail to Tafelberg Road, we saw flashing lights and my heart sunk!
It was a friend who had been given permission from law enforcement, my concern was that they were not going to let me continue with the challenge because of the fire. But that wasn’t the case. He had come to escort us for the last long stretch, were it all started, Signal Hill.
I sprinted the last 100m to the finish. How I did that, I don’t know. I was so overwhelmed to finally finish this amazing challenge in under 24hours the adrenaline of this realization gave me that burst of energy to get to the end in a finish time of 20 hours and 38 minutes, distance of 110km with an elevation of 7000m +.
How to sum up my experience in three words…. Epic, hard, fun!
Anele Bans name now stands proud on the 13 Peaks One Day Wall of Honour.
I want to thank every single person who supported me through this journey. Especially the support of my support crew. I would never have made it without them!
ANELE WITH RYAN SANDES RECEIVING HIS MEDAL