Over 1 000 international and local athletes compete in the Ultra-trail Cape Town (UTCT) every year.
The running event in the Mother City began in 2014, with only 200 participants entered across all four of its races; this number has since risen to 1 750.
So far, 300 international entries and 300 entries from other parts of South Africa are confirmed for December, which will be a great boost for local sports tourism. The parts of the trail traversing Table Mountain present competitors with a rugged technical terrain, and this along with the magnificent views of Cape Town makes the run unforgettable.
An estimated 4 000 visitors from outside the Mother City will fly in for the next Ultra-trail Cape Town.
Comprising of four races, Ultra-trail offers a 100km, 65km, 35km, and a newly-added 21km route.
Founder and Race Director for UTCT, Nic Bornman, states that tapping into the international race scene has put the Mother City on the global map for trail runners.
“The primary criteria for the tour inclusion is that it needs to be a race set in an iconic destination, and Cape Town … really speaks to that. It’s created an opportunity for [UTCT] as an event [and] for Cape Town in particular to really be noticed by the trail running world,” he says.
Bornman says almost all of the races are sold out.
“We are thrilled at the entries for this year. We are sold out in all [races except] the 100km event already, and the 100km is 93% full. With over 40% of runners being visitors to the city, we are proud to be an event that is really making a difference to local tourism,” says Bornman.
Various events such as the Two Oceans Marathon, Cape Town Cycle Tour and UTCT bring visitors to Cape Town each year, helping to improve sports tourism.
CEO of Cape Town Tourism, Enver Duminy, comments on the positive impact of sports tourism on the city’s economy, looking at UTCT as one of the contributors to this.
“Events such as the Ultra-Trail Cape Town are an essential element to boosting our local economy. They generate employment and contribute to job sustainability, and they also attract new visitors as well as providing added value for locals. Events are part of our reinvention strategy as a tourism organisation; we want to give more people more reasons to visit … the Ultra-Trail Cape Town is proof that there’s hunger for more to do and see [in Cape Town]. Visitors attend sport, business and cultural events, and then spend more on tourism activities … we value the creation of more [sport events],” Duminy explains.
Tourism centering around sports travel has expanded in Cape Town over the years. Owner of Runcation, a local company that designs bespoke runs for customers, Lance Wynn has witnessed the growth of UTCT and trail-running in the Mother City. The emerging of more trail-running groups and organisations, such as the ‘Tuesday Trails’, shows the increased local interest in the activity.
Bornman comments on the impact of UTCT’s.
“These elite athletes will be spreading the word to the international trail community. With the growth of UTCT and initiatives such as tours for runners, we can anticipate the sport of trail running continuing to support the Cape Town tourism industry in the coming years.”
The 100km, 65km, 35km races will be taking place on December 1 and the 21km race on December 2 2018.