History of the Race
The first-ever Hohenort was held on 15 November 1975 and is the flagship event of the Pinelands Athletic Club. The name Hohenort is derived from the area in which it is held, Hohenort is the name of a sub-section of the Constantia Valley.
Due to its popularity and growth the start and finish have been moved around over the years. The original start in 1975, and for a few years thereafter, was in front of the Hohenort Hotel (now Cellars-Hohenort Hotel) and the prize-giving was held on the hotel’s tennis court. The date of the Hohenort also changed a few times in the early days, from November to February, and eventually to January in 1982. This fitted in well with Two Oceans training programs, as it is a tough, hilly, yet scenic course. In 1989 there were 1064 finishers, from 1993 onward there were never less than 1000 finishers. The record now stands at 2673 finishers in 2019.
Let’s get this party started! Up at the unsocial hour of 03h45. Collected Yvonne Perry along the way, then Heidi du Plessis and last but by certainly no means least our Paula van der Merwe who had parked at the Total Garage in Table View. Off we went with Yvonne and Heidi tucked up at the back with my trusty GPS Paula up front with me. My map indicated a travel distance of 34 km from Sunningdale and the fastest route due to traffic conditions of 40 minutes.
We arrived in good time at our destination and parked at the local shopping centre closest to the Alphen Centre. Lots of meeting and greeting as this was actually the very first official race of the new year. Runners were out in their droves and plenty of West Coasters showed up. After taking a couple of photos of our front runners – Nico Loubser, Sam Knaggs and Wg Ren (James to me) it was off to the back of the crowd to mingle amongst like-minded folk. Before we knew it, the gun went off and so did we.
The start time was 06h00 and one could already feel the impending heat, the best of the sunshine however was still to come! Started off quite nicely and it was pretty much general running for the first one, two, three, four, five and six km. The scenery is just too beautiful in that neck of the woods with fabulous properties and immaculately manicured lawns. Sprinklers were watering the grass and many runners took advantage of this opportunity to wet their hands as a cool down. Then of course the curve ball. The spanner in the works. The Hohenhort Avenue. Yes, the very Hohenhort Avenue which most folks were anticipating and dreading, which spanned mostly over seven, eight and nine km – if not the case in reality, it certainly seemed to be that way. And to add insult to injury it was getting hotter and hotter as the morning progressed. On the positive side, however, I must surely have lost a couple of kg’s? and/or gms? Something good has to be had from running up this monster!
Water tables had been placed at every 4kms. Stocked adequately with cold Coke and water. Marshalls were plentiful and happy. Probably happy that they hadn’t chosen to run Hohenhort on Saturday 13th!
Once up Hohenhort Avenue, one could sense a degree of relief in the air as we headed into km number 10. Double figures. At last. With some shade being offered depending on which side of the road one ran. Looking ahead it was a case of follow the leader. I had Flippie van Dyk just a few meters ahead of me, using him as a beacon and pace setter. I’m afraid everyone else had left me standing. Heidi was long gone as was Paula. They were taking no prisoners and just put foot to finish this race.
Once at km number 13 I could almost taste the coke set out on the welcome home table. It really was thoughts like this that kept me going. By now of course I had most definitely lost that extra kg and felt fit enough to run the last km to the finish line. One could hear the cheering, clapping and commentating from the field and hearing them announce that Flippie was crossing the line, I knew I had made it and finished the race in one piece. Home at last!
Instead of medals, we were awarded a pair of red Brooks/Total Sports/Solid Rock socks plus a laminated running calendar of forthcoming events. That coke had my name on it and I managed to down more than just one or two.
Our WCAC gazebo had been erected and on arrival, our Chairlady Tammy was in the process of slicing up a very welcome watermelon! We congregated for club photos, said our goodbyes and made our way back to the car. A quick purchase from Shireen Jacobs and her fabulous stall of enticing run wear and our job was done!
Thank you very much indeed to the organizing club – Pinelands Athletic Club – who managed to pull the Hohenhort 15km off without a hitch (to my knowledge). Thanks to the marshals who gave up their time to point us in the right direction and also to the water table assistants. Very grateful to you all. Thank you.