53km Ultra Trail Run

Treat yourself to a premier trail event this year and race amongst our top athletes vying for the big prize purse.

Embrace all 53km and 1900m vert of South Africa’s iconic – and aptly named – five-day Whale Trail hiking route in one tremendous effort.

Fast flowing footpaths through spectacular mountain fynbos give way to technical rocky coastline ridges, calf killing sandy beaches and onto undulating coastal paths. The entire route is in the De Hoop Reserve, so you come for the whales, but expect to also see eland, bontebok, zebra, vultures, dolphins and signs of otter, leopard, caracal and turtles. It’s magic.
Finishing Whale is not easy but so worth the effort. Find your tribe of genuine, wild loving trail runners here.

Race Factsheet

Date & Time
Saturday, 27 July 2024
Start Time
07h00 / 09h00 (sub 7hr runners)
26 July 2024 – 16h00-19h00
at De Hoop Collection
Briefing Dinner
26 July 2024 – 18h30 – 20h00
at De Hoop Collection
Prize Giving Dinner
27 July 2024 – 17h30 – 20h00
at De Hoop Collection
Cut Offs
23.5km – 4h45, 46km – 9h30
Entry Fee
Race Venue
De Hoop Collection on De Hoop Nature Reserve
Race Start
Potberg Nature Reserve
Race Finish
Koppie Alleen – De Hoop Nature Reserve.

Race Details

Date: The race is held on Saturday 27 July 2024 and will start at 07h00 from Potberg Enviro Centre in De Hoop Nature Reserve.

Registration: Registration will be from 16h00 – 19h00 on Friday 26 July 2024 at De Hoop Collection, and from 06h00 at the start venue at Potberg for those staying outside the Reserve and unable to attend the registration and briefing dinner.

Briefing: Friday 26 July 2024 at 19h00 at De Hoop Collection. Those only registering at Potberg on race morning will be given the essentials briefing then.

Prize-giving: Saturday 27 July 2024 at 20h00 at De Hoop Collection. Cash prizes and lucky draws. Winners must be present or forfeit prize.

Accommodation: There is a good variety of accommodation options available at De Hoop Collection. Please see the Race Accommodation page

Glamping Tented Accommodation: Available at the Race Village of De Hoop Collection for the Friday and Saturday nights at R2,800 for Glamping Tent for the weekend. Sleeps two people for two nights. See Accommodation Details.

Transfers: Competitors will be transferred on the morning of the 27 July 2024 the 30km from De Hoop Collection to the start line at Potberg. Competitors may deposit an official tog bag (to be issued at registration) that will then meet them at the finish area at Koppie Alleen.

Transfers will run from the finish at Koppie Alleen back to De Hoop Collection throughout the day (leaving every 45mins) for competitors.  Spectators are welcome to use this shuttle to get to and from De Hoop Collection and the finish area. No private cars will be allowed to travel the 17km from De Hoop Collection to Koppie Alleen or beyond Potberg Enviro Centre.

Route: The 53km route follows the well-established CapeNature 5-day hiking trail with approx 1900m ascent. Detailed info on Race Route

PLEASE NOTE THAT THE WHALE TRAIL IS CLOSED TO THE PUBLIC unless booked on the hiking trail. No route scouting or pre-running is allowed.  Any runners found on the trail illegally will be banned for all future events.

Race Entry

Entry Fee: R5, 300

Entry Fee Includes

  • Permit, entry and unique opportunity to run this trail
  • CapeNature fee for De Hoop Reserve and the trail
  • Paramedic support with 4×4 vehicles (excludes helicopter evacuation, or any hospitalization transport, which will be at the athlete’s cost)
  • Transfers to and from race village to start and finish points
  • Four well stocked and staffed watertables on the route
  • Friday night briefing dinner
  • Hot meal at finish
  • Saturday night prize giving dinner
  • Drop bag and complimentary items
  • Transfer of drop bag to finish
  • Complimentary leg massage at finish
  • Finisher’s medal

Entry fee does not include

Entries open from 10h00 on 24 September 2023 – A deposit payment of R1,600 will be required within three days of entering in order to secure your booking.  The remainder of the entry fee will be due by the 31 March 2024.

Refunds: 70% refund (of total entry fee) possible up until 27 April 2024 (3 months before the event date) following a written notification of withdrawal. Please note: Most of our costs for this event are incurred and committed long before you even start training. As such, it is to both our benefit that a substitute is found and we have a very fair substitution policy.

Substitutions: Substitutions are possible up to 12h00 Friday 19 July  2024 (8 days before the event) with a fee of R800. Substitutions will be offered to the wait list first. Should you want to make a substitution, contact the organisers.

Cancellation: Should the event scheduled for the 27 July 2024 be cancelled due to National Restrictions surrounding any disaster, entries will be transferred to the 2025 Whale of Trail event.

Prize Money: Thanks for the generous sponsorship from PSG Wealth Rosebank, both the Male and Female first place winners will receive R30,000 cash, second place – R10,000 and third place – R5,000. There will also be a R10,000 lucky draw prize for all finishers of the 53km and 35km races. De Hoop Collection are offering R5,000 to the first runner if the record times are broken (both male and female). The fastest winning times to date stand at 4h30 for men and 5h28 for the women. Prize winners have to be present at prize giving dinner on the Saturday night in order to receive the prizes.

Goody Bags: Gift items and kitbags included in race entry are only for those who compete in the event and will not be handed to third party recipients.

Runners Information: Runners must be self sufficient for the day. No seconding allowed. There will be cut off times along the way, after which competitors will be pulled off the route and transported to the finish. Runners must be fit and should have run at least a 30km trail (as opposed to a dirt road run) run recently. Runners must stick to the marked trail. No short cuts are allowed. There will be a sweepers and checkpoints.

Medical: There will be emergency services on standby but participants must, under normal circumstances, be fit, healthy and able to complete the event safely without aid.  Should the race medic declare any participant unfit to continue, he or she will be forced to withdraw from the event. This is a serious challenge. EACH PARTICIPANT MUST TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR THEIR OWN SAFETY.

Compulsory Running Equipment

Missing equipment means no run. There will be kit checks. Penalalties will apply for missing equipment during the run.

Whale trail Medals 2023 Whale Of Trail Race

Event Schedule (Provisional)

Friday 26 July 2024
16h00 – 19h00
Registration at De Hoop Collection
18h30 – 21h00
Dinner at De Hoop Collection
Briefing at De Hoop Collection
Saturday 27 July 2024
Transfer from De Hoop Collection to Potberg Nature Reserve
Registration opens for non-residents of De Hoop
Race Start
11h30 – 12h30
Winners expected at Koppie Alleen
Dinner at De Hoop Collection
Prize Giving at De Hoop Collection

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