Hiking Advice and Insights from a Professional Hiker

How do you go from hiking to trail running? What are easy trail routes for beginners wanting to start trail running in Cape Town? How do you do trail runs while wearing a hijab?

Lets find out in this insightful article by Zuriena Slarmie. Zuriena is from Wynberg, Cape Town, South Africa. She is married with three 3 kids and works as a Client Relationship manager at a Financial Company. Her hobbies are trail running.

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“My husband and I started trail running 8 years ago.

Initially we started off hiking and gradually we started to run. We do this as a couple, this is how we get to spend time together. We tried to get the kids involved but they weren’t interested.

I love the outdoors and I go would go for runs in the mountains and forests. Trail running is very challenging as each route is different, some terrains can be easy or technical, where the surface is rocky, muddy or wet and you need to concentrate on how you run. Most times we would run through rivers, climb over rocks and go up into the mountains even using ropes or chains to get to the other side. And we love this, being high up in the mountain. You get to admire and enjoy the views. Being out in the nature clears your mind and it just relaxes you. Running together with my husband gives us time together as a couple.

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I try to run at least 3 times a week, on a Wednesday evening & weekends. If I do not run on a weekend then it feels like my weekend isn’t incomplete, even my family knows that we on the mountain during the weekends.

As my kids got older, we decided to do Sunday hikes with them. I even invited my siblings & they thoroughly enjoyed it. But when winter comes then no one wants to go out. Hubby and I would continuously go out every weekend, come rain or sunshine and we enjoyed it so much. Many people started joining running clubs, but I didn’t enjoy road running, we preferred the trail as it challenged us to do better.

Initially we started off by doing short distances and as we got fitter, we ran longer distances. My longest trail run was 38km. In trail you can’t compare it to road running, as there is elevation and some of it can go up to 1700m high and you would run for up to 8 hours in 1 day. With trail you use each muscle in your body and this is my weekly exercise. I love doing trails in winter, summer is nice, as you can get an early start, but the weather can get very hot and running for so long can drain your body, especially in the heat. Some weekends we would do back-to-back running, both Saturday and Sunday and this is how we motivate each other as a couple.

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My most challenging trail was doing 13 Peaks, we did it as a group of friends. You need to tag 13 peaks; each peak would be as high as 1500m and the total of it all was about 7100m in elevation and 100km in distance. We did this over 6 weeks, every Saturday or Sunday. Each run would be 15 to 20 km a day. This was very challenging especially the elevation, going up into the mountains. On our second day when we went up Platteklip Gorge to tag Maclears beacon, the weather was -3 degrees on top of the mountain and our hands and toes were frozen and paining from the cold. We would experience 4 seasons in 1 day.

For beginners, I would recommend Newland Forest, Constantia Nek and Silvermine Nature Reserve in Cape Town. Those trails are fairly flat and easy to run.

My favourite trail was the Salomon Ultra Trail in Cappadocia Turkey, Ultra-Trail Cape Town & Two Oceans Ultra Trails.

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If trail running is something you want to try and you love the outdoors, my advice would be to go for hikes in the forest and do it consistently. Soon you will be so fit that you eventually start running. Cape Town has the most beautiful trails, and it does not matter how unfit, young, or old you are, there is something out there for everyone. The best sport to do as a couple or friends.

As a muslim woman, I always try to be modest, by wearing my hijab on the trail, I wear a burkah with my p-cap, tights, skirt and t-shirt. And I always try to match my colours up. A lot of people have asked me, how do I run with a hijab, don’t I get hot or irritated. I always tell them that this is something you get use to and that I now can’t go without it.”

If you enjoyed this article and would like to see what Zuriena is up to, please follow her journey on: 

Instagram: ct_hijabtrailrunner

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