Run West: Chapter 5 Recap

By Steve Pike and Damien Schumann.

After five incredible ‘chapters’ by the RunWest project, who have been trail running down the West Coast to highlight poor or illegal mining practices, the final Chapter 6 will start at Melkbos and end at Cape Point this weekend 24-26 June. Sign-up to join us for Chapter 6 HERE.

Chapter 6 breakdown:

Day 1 – Melkbosstrand – Bakoven 46km

Start at 7am at the NSRI building in Melkbos

Aid station located at Milnerton river mouth car park

Run ends at Tidal Point, Camps Bay.

Day 2 – Camps Bay to Scarborough 38km

7am start at the tidal pool in Camps Bay

Aid station located at Sentinel Ocean Alliance Hout Bay beach

Finish at Scarborough beach parking lot

Day 3 – Scarborough to Cape Point 29km

Start at 7am at Scarborough beach parking lot

Aid station – in the Cape Point Nature Reserve

Finish at the Cape Point lighthouse.

It will be a fitting end to this amazing project, the southern-most tip of the West Coast of the country, if not the continent! This monumental journey has so far taken a total of 3,460 minutes (57.6hrs of run time) over 425km by our RunWest friends – a passionate collective of people who have braved the elements and aggressive mining company security guards – through some of the most pristine wilderness that remains on the West Coast. Sadly, it has also taken them into wastelands ruined by mining.

The fifth chapter, The Chapter of the Tides took place on 22 April to link the West Coast National Park to Silverstroom as the crew slowly worked their way down the coast. In the words of Damien Schumann:

Warming our toes by a campfire in Churchhaven at the classiest accommodation we’ve had to date thanks to the Lanz family, the memories of those swaar (heavy) sands were relived. We realised that low tide was approaching at midnight. As fun as the stories are to tell, no-one wanted to relive 30kms of soft sand so we laced up and hit South Africa’s longest unbroken beach as carriages turned to pumpkins.

Being in such open spaces at night is truly a spectacle. Mist banks rolled over us and allowed moonlight to light up the sand as they passed. Other than the odd oyster catcher there was not a sound to be heard. At 9kms we found a soccer ball and kicked it all the way to the finish 21kms later. We reached Yzerfontein close to 4am and the core four team of Jacques, Seb, Dom and Damien assumed the spoon-sandwich position outside the Spar until our trusted crew came to pick us up.

A quick snooze and delicious breakfast set us up for a super chilled day by the lagoon as the rest of the crew joined for Saturday’s leg.

By the time Jacques lit the inaugural pipe signalling the start of the day our crew had grown to roughly 25 strong. Tide planning was not an option this time around and we were challenged with extremely soft sand, waves constantly washing over the beach and foam that was waist high at points. Not that that disillusioned any of the runners, many of whom were new faces. The 30km section included a spotting of a whale carcass and a welcome by local land owners to freshen up in their resort. They were fascinated and highly supportive to hear about our mission.

The day was wrapped up with a lunch and tour of the San community centre Kwattu. It was a real treat to learn how the land had been used for so many centuries by indigenous peoples. But shame… the staff had to be patient with our ravenous peg-legged army, the conditions had been far from fair weather and we were showing signs of fatigue.

The vibe in the campsite was top grade and spirits were high again by the time we turned in.

The final leg played to our favour and smooth trails led us the final 15kms to Silverstroom strand on the border of the Koeberg Nature Reserve. After the previous day it almost felt like cheating to have such an easy run.

That brings the total to 425kms of mostly pristine beach run with only one more section to go as we enter Cape Town. It is hard to experience such a place on foot and not have an affinity to it. And that has been proven through the impressions runners have shared with us. Once we have reached Cape Point we will be returning to the mines to protest with a following far greater than we did on Chapter 1. Watch out MSR, the value of the West Coast is far greater than just minerals.

All images taken by Damien Schumann.

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