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Home >> Blog >> Ross Tucker >> Ultra Marathon Recon 1: Chapman's Peak climb

Ultra Marathon Recon 1: Chapman's Peak climb

  • Ultra Marathon
  • Training

Chapman's Peak Drive: The iconic climb

Chapman's Peak Drive is the iconic climb of the Ultra Marathon, and it's one of the most beautiful sections of road anywhere in the world.  It also ushers in the tough second half of the race, coming shortly after the halfway mark in Noordhoek.

Patience & control

For this reason, the operative words are "patience" and "control".  In the video below, I bang that particular drum repeatedly, and it's important because I think you have to realize that there's really not much that you can gain on Chapman's Peak Drive, but there is a lot to lose!  That is, the climb is a little too far from the finish to make your big push for home, no matter how good you're feeling, and it's also the "appertif" to Constantia Nek Drive, which is a tougher climb that lies in wait about 10km from the summit of Chappies.  You should feel fairly good at the bottom of Chapman's, because it's only halfway into the race, and it's been relatively flat up to this point.  So fresh legs, an iconic climb, and the relatively gradual gradient can suck people into efforts that are a little too hard, and they can often pay for this later.  Therefore, this is not the time to get carried away and push through.

Rather, let your legs find their climbing rhythm, appreciate the beauty of where you are, and relax!  The climb takes you from around 29km to 33.7km at the summit, and is then followed by the drop down into Hout Bay, also about 4.5km, and also a "dangerous" part of the race because of the temptation to push too hard.  Once again, the descent is all about "patience and control", but that's so important that I'm going to cover it in a separate video tomorrow!

The climb is not particularly steep, apart from one or two relatively short sections near the summit, but it is relatively long - the 6 hour Ultra runner can expect to spend 25 to 30 minutes on the climb.  It's also deceptive, and so don't be fooled by the Little Chappies peak, and also the "false summit" that you'll be able to see for most of the climb.  It can be disheartening to see what looks like the top, only to arrive and realize that there's still more than a kilometer of the steepest part remaining!

But just in case I haven't made the point yet, the key here is to be patient!  Even if your legs are feeling fantastic and you're flying along comfortably, exercise the discipline to pull it back, knowing that the final 15km are tough, and whatever you can save on energy spent here can be cashed in later. 


The video is below, just for the ascent.  As mentioned, I'll show you the descent in the next clip, coming tomorrow!


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