Find out the A-Z of EVERYTHING you need to know about the Merrell Whale of Trail and then
A = Accommodation
There is an entire page dedicated to accommodation on the Whale of Trail website, but in case you haven’t seen it yet, here’s a brief run down. The Race Village is situated at De Hoop Collection, inside the De Hoop Nature Reserve. De Hoop Collection offers a range of accommodation types to suit every type of trail runner. They also offer Whale of Trail runners special deals over race weekend – bonus! If De Hoop Collection is full, there are dorm beds in Potberg Environmental Centre on offer too (situated at the start). All bookings for De Hoop Collection must be done directly through them and are sold on a per room basis. For dorm beds, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Accommodation is not included in your entry, and we promise that sleeping in your car the night before isn’t that comfy -so get booking.
Race briefing takes place over a delicious dinner the night before the event, at the Race Village at De Hoop Collection. Briefing runs from 18:30 – 20:00 and is critical for communicating last minute information, any course changes, rules, etc – so time your drive that you make it. It’s always helpful to watch a route fly-through so you know what to expect the next day!
C = Cost
The cost and entry includes your permit and unique opportunity to run the Whale Trail route, the Cape Nature fee for De Hoop Reserve and the trail, paramedic support with 4×4 vehicles (excludes helicopter evacuation, or any hospitalisation transport, which will be at the athlete’s cost), a tog bag, transfers to and from race venue to start and finish points, water tables with food on the route, Friday night briefing dinner, Saturday night prize giving dinner, a tasty meal at the finish, a complimentary leg massage at finish and a finisher’s medal. Did we mention you also get to have the experience of a lifetime?
D = Dates
The Merrell Whale of Trail is held in the thick of whale season every year, the 2018 instalment due to set off on the 18 August. Originally earlier in the year, trail runners were disappointed by a lack of whales, so the folk at Mountain Runner Events moved it back a bit to suit the beautiful beasts’ movements. Now you can enjoy being flanked by endless Southern Right Whales as you make your way along the coastal section from Noestie to the finish. Pretty unique if you think about it!
Arriving at the Whale of Trail, or any ultra for that matter, undercooked not only puts you and your health at risk, but race organisers too. By entering the Whale of Trail you’re signing up for a 53km trail run that could take you anywhere between seven and 10 hours to complete. Being unfit and underprepared will dampen your experience, so arrive with a good foundation and feeling fit and strong! That means train for time on your feet, varying terrain and a strong mind. Keep an eye on the Mountain Runner Events Facebook page for upcoming group training sessions.
F = Finish Line shenanigans
The finish line at Koppie Alleen is a welcome sight after 53km, even if there’s a little climb to the finish arch! You’ll hear Mountain Runner Event’s Tatum Prince on the mic from at least a kay out, and she, cold beers, cool drinks and a hot, tasty meal will welcome you over the finish line, as well as a complimentary leg massage. Your tog bag (if you left it at the bag drop) will be waiting too, so jump in a hot shower, kick your feet up, plant your bum in a bean bag and cheer your fellow Whalers over the finish line! Just make sure you can get up when it comes time to catch a complimentary shuttle back to the Race Village for dinner and prize giving.
G = Getting there
De Hoop Nature Reserve is situated roughly in the middle of George and Cape Town on a map. It’s around a three hour drive from either. The drive is pretty standard and doable for any type of car, but take note, the last hour is on a gravel road. While it is graded and in great condition, check your spare tyre before you start the trip, no one likes to be caught out! Make sure you leave enough time to get to De Hoop Collection on time for briefing.
H = Hands-on
This is a hands-on event, as in, no seconding allowed. No pacers, supporters, dogs, parents, etc, except for at the end. There are two fully loaded water tables and five water points along the route where you can top up, but that being said, it is always recommended to carry your own race nutrition and simply use the tables as a treat or snack! Cold Nuun will be on tap at the water tables, be sure to dig in!
I = Injuries and medical
There are paramedics and emergency services on standby for emergencies, but participants must under normal circumstances, be fit, healthy and able to complete the event safely without aid. If one of the race medics make the call that a you or your trail buddy is unfit to continue, then their decision is final and you will have to withdraw. Medical assistance on route does not include helicopter evacuation or hospitalisation transport. Each participant must have medical aid and must take responsibility for their own safety costs. In short, look after yourself and make sure you’re covered if anything goes South.
K = Kit Checks and mandatory gear
Mandatory kit is not a way for event organisers to throw their weight around – they’re looking out for your safety. Conditions on the trail can change in an instant, therefore it’s imperative that you are prepared for anything. You will be penalised if you are caught without any of the following mandatory kit:
- Water containers (min 2 litres)
- Base layer
- WATERPROOF rain jacket
- Buff or head gear
- Space blanket
- Cell phone – emergency numbers will be supplied at race briefing.
L = Local Support
Due to the nature of the route, supporting loved ones on the trail is impossible. That said, supporters, family, kids and friends can catch one of the complimentary shuttles from De Hoop Collection to Koppie Alleen, the finish line, and enjoy an afternoon watching whales, cheering runners in and supporting their loved ones. Worried you’re going to be lonely out there on the trails, well don’t! You’ll have whales and vultures cheering you on from nature’s sidelines.
Your entry includes two dinners (the Fri and Sat) and a delicious, warm meal at the finish on the Saturday (It’s been potjie for the past few years, and in abundance). It excludes breakfast on the Saturday and Sunday, as well as meals for your family and support – which can be purchased. If you have any dietary requirements, be sure to include those when you enter and buy additional meal vouchers for family members.
N = Noetsie
Noetsie is worthy of a mention, as it is basically the half way (and turning) point in the race. Noetsie marks the end of the mountain section and the start of the coastal section. Many entrants overcook their legs on the mountains and leave nothing in the tank for the final 25km coastal section, which we strongly recommend NOT doing. The undulating path, soft, sandy beach section and nasty camber require strength and a sense of humour – so be sure to keep some energy for the second half!
Tune in next month for part 2!