Otter info

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Otter Grail of Trail

RETTO EDITION

Natures Valley Start

All athletes will be transported to the starting point at Natures Valley. There are three cut-off points en route where participants failing to arrive on time will be removed from the course.

TrailFactor of 2.0

The TrailFactor indicates the degree of increased resistance applied by the trail on a runner when compared to a flat conventional road running course. A TrailFactor of 2.0 means completing the Otter can take twice as long as the equivalent distance on road!

Four River Crossings

There are four rivers that have to be crossed, including the infamous Bloukrans River which involves a swim. We will have safety personnel and equipment set up only at Bloukrans to assist and make sure you safely cross this segment.
route profileroute profile

Route Profile

A total gain of over 2,600m over full route, including ±7,000 ascending steps. Steep enough to force the strongest runners to walk.

Eleven Significant Climbs

There are eleven climbs of more than 50 meters elevation gain, with 3 climbs exceeding 100 meters.

Pace Chart and Medal Times

The pace chart and pace bracelets provided will help you keep track of your targeted finishing time and will help you to stay ahead of all six cut-off points. 

Pace Chart

Otter Training Plans

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July

June
May

Otter Strength Training

Otter Strength Training

Strength Plan 2.0

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The Coaching Team

Flat Rock Endurance coaches trail and road runners of all levels, from beginner to elite. The team comprises three coaches, each bringing specific skills to create a well-rounded offering for our athletes.

Erin van Eyssen is the head coach and founder of Flat Rock Endurance in 2017. He focuses on the athletes' mental and physical health and has coached beginners to elites ranging from 5km to 100+ miles.

As a trained dietitian and professional trail running athlete, Toni McCann brings together her belief in supporting the whole athlete, not just the physical.

Brendan Lombard has a rich knowledge of strength and conditioning and uses it to target athlete's objectives specifically. Brendan understands the importance of conditioning and insists it is a part of every athlete's plan.

Whether the goal is finishing your first 5 km road race or taking on a 100-mile ultra-trail run, we can help you succeed as a team. We pride ourselves in the fact that we always put the health of our athletes ahead of race goals.

Click on the image below to view (and download) the Otter Training plans.

1 - 0 Weeks to go

Sept Training Plan

5 - 2 Weeks to go

Sept Training Plan

9 - 6 Weeks to go

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13 - 10 Weeks to go

july training

17 - 14 Weeks to go

2023 June Otter Training Plans

22 - 18 Weeks to go

may training plans

26 - 23 Weeks to go

2023 April Otter Training Plans

30 - 27 Weeks to go

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2024 Otter Training Plans

Covering over 40 km of trail with 7000 ascending steps and over 2400m of elevation, the Grail of Trail requires concerted base-level endurance, stairs, and interval training to succeed.

Welcome to your Otter African Trail Run journey. Seven months of preparation. Seven months of building fitness, strength, and excitement for this experience of a lifetime.

Energy levels and motivation are always high when we begin something new. It is always tempting to dive straight into training. But before we can do that, you need to understand a few key sessions you will see in these first months of training. Seven months is perfect for you to build volume, intensity, and specificity into your training. But before we can get to the specific workouts and high-intensity sessions, we need to make a solid foundation to work on. That’s what months one, two, and three will be – ensuring we develop a big aerobic base by gradually increasing the volume.

Remember that effort and time, over pace and kilometres, are key to success when training on the trails. Coming off the road means we must leave the ego at the trailhead and really run to feel or ‘perceived effort’. 60 minutes on the trails may look like 7km, whereas on the road, 60 minutes could be 10+ km. Time on feet is what is important. Not pace. This is especially true as we start building our foundation; running at too high an effort only increases our risk for injury and results in unnecessary fatigue.

Some of the sessions you will see in the first month include:

General Aerobic Trail Run:
These are your daily bread – a conversational pace run. The general aerobic runs are intended to boost your overall aerobic endurance by safely increasing your training volume. You should be able to do a hard session the next day, if not - you're running these too hard.

This correlates to a 5/10 on the Relative Perceived Effort (RPE) scale (above).

Strides:
General aerobic runs boost overall aerobic endurance. We include strides at the end of an aerobic run to target speed and form. Strides are not an all-out sprint but a 90% effort (9/10 RPE). Including them at the end of a run helps increase leg turnover, improve your running form, and train your nervous system to maintain faster leg speed.

During the strides, focus on your posture and gait (i.e., relaxed shoulders and arms, full hip extension, driving with your hips, pushing through your glutes, etc.) and build up speed throughout the rep, accelerating powerfully and finishing comfortably. Walk or jog back to the start point or ±100m to fully recover before the next rep.

Recovery Runs:
Recovery runs (4/10 RPE) are intended to enhance recovery by stimulating blood flow. They are noticeably easier than your other runs and should help prepare you for your next workout. Going too hard on these increases the risk of injury and means you cannot get the most out of your hard sessions. Keep the easy days easy so you can run the hard days hard.

Rest Days:
Often ignored in training is the importance of a rest day. These days allow you to reap all your sessions' positive benefits and adaptations. This doesn't mean you must be sedentary, but restorative activity focusing on recovery is essential. A walk, a yoga flow, a dip in the ocean, etc., and good nutrition and sleep = the perfect rest day.

Active Recovery:
Rest days Recovery Runs  Active Recovery. Active recovery is still movement, but it ensures that the intensity is kept low through walking. It stimulates blood flow and enhances recovery but removes the risk of injury that comes with increasing running volume too rapidly. These can be done on the mountain, in a park, along a promenade, around the block, etc. – any terrain works.

Long Aerobic Trail Run:
Time to develop some stamina. Long aerobic runs help develop endurance and prepare you for the day out at the Otter African Trail Run. Initially, the goal is pure aerobic volume (5/10 RPE), but as the months go on, we will incorporate more specificity to the terrain, where possible. This means replicating the terrain you will find at The Otter as far as possible.

Long runs also allow you to practice your nutrition strategy and test your gear. Take time to understand how you respond to various potential scenarios and what you can and cannot tolerate. Aim for +60g of carbohydrates per hour for sessions >90min.

The effort should be hard enough to stimulate muscle adaptations but moderate enough to recover quickly for the upcoming sessions. Remember that time 'on your feet' is more important than covering a certain distance.

Vert Focussed Run:
Otter is notorious for its stairs and steep technical descents – specifically in the direction of the Retto Edition. Over 2,400 m of elevation gain over 42km correlates to an average of 57m of elevation (d+) per kilometre. For vert-focused runs, the goal is to gain as much vert per kilometre as the race (i.e., between 55-60m d+/km). Remember, your perceived effort should remain 5/10, so if this means you are hiking, then so be it. As you get fitter and stronger, you will slowly be able to run more of the climbs at the same effort.

e.g., In a 20km long aerobic run, aim to get between 1100m d+ and 1200m d+)

But I missed a session, now what?
When thinking about a run, it's important to consider its purpose and importance within the overall plan.

Are you doing a recovery, general aerobic, or a more specific run? If it's a recovery or general aerobic run, don't worry too much about making up for missed kilometres later in the week. If you miss a run on a recovery day, you're still working towards your goals, and one aerobic run won't derail your fitness if it’s missed.

If you miss a more important session, like a threshold run or uphill intervals, look at why and see if you can fit it back into your schedule later in the week. If you're injured or sick, it's best to rest and recover fully before attempting an easy run again. If you're short on time, try to fit the missed session in another time during the week. Ensure you have enough time to recover between high-intensity sessions and long runs. Don't cram all your runs if it's impractical and prevents proper recovery between sessions.

Remember that you are not defined by one session but by all the hours and kilometres you've dedicated to your running journey. One missed session won't make or break your progress.

*Please note that this guide is meant to prepare you for your race. However, listening to your body and not pushing through pain is essential. The plan has some flexibility, but ensure you respect the recovery time needed for hard sessions and long runs.

Endurance Nutrition

Fuelling looks different from person to person. What works for one person might not work for another. Practice makes perfect. Try and test some of our tips below to see what fits best for you!

1. Nutrition: Leading up to race day

The first thing to keep in mind when considering the right nutrition to complement a rigid training routine is variety. We must eat a varied diet that has a balance of all the macronutrients and fruits and vegetables. Variety in our diet ensures that we are getting in the nutrients that our bodies need in order to function at our best while staying healthy.

Our body’s primary source of fuel is carbohydrates. We need to ensure that we are including them in our diet to ensure that we are fueling our bodies for the work it is doing - especially in the context of endurance sports. To train and race well, we need to replenish muscle glycogen stores - this is one of the areas where carbohydrates are stored in our body, and when we exercise, our bodies use these glycogen stores for fuel - just like a car would use petrol. If we do not eat adequate amounts of carbohydrates, these stores do not get filled up again and we end up with insufficient glycogen. Essentially, that means we run out of fuel. Just like a car without petrol, this won’t take us very far, and performance will be affected. However, we also need the correct amounts of protein and fats.

What we eat is just as important as the distribution of our food throughout the day. For example, there is little benefit in eating all your protein at dinner time but not eating any in the first half of the day. You want to make sure that your nutrient distribution throughout the day makes sense. This is important for a variety of reasons: to ensure that blood sugar response is balanced, which will leave you more satisfied and prevent highs and lows in terms of energy levels.

2. Hydration: Leading up to race day

Individual hydration needs will differ from person to person, and it is difficult to give a ‘one size fits all’ recommendation here because sweat composition differs from person to person.

Some people are ‘saltier’ and heavier sweaters than others, and this will mean that their hydration needs will be different. When we sweat, we don’t just lose water, we also lose electrolytes like sodium, potassium, and magnesium and it’s very important that we replace these lost electrolytes.

When it comes to hydration, there is a common misconception that water alone is enough. This is not true, and often athletes are actually dehydrated in a race - does cramping, throwing up, dizziness, headache, or nausea sound familiar? These are all common signs and symptoms of dehydration. The solution? Make sure you include electrolytes in your bladder.

One of the functions of electrolytes is carbohydrate absorption so if you are not adequately hydrated, your body will not be able to absorb carbohydrates to fuel yourself.

3. Nutrition & Hydration: The day before eat normally

  • There’s no need to bulk up on carbs. Don’t eat any foods you are not used to.
  • Stay hydrated: Take note of how frequently you go to the loo, as well as your urine colour. It should be a pale yellow, and you should go to the bathroom frequently.

4. Nutrition & Hydration: During the race

Adequate fueling during an event is paramount to getting the best out of your body. The Munchie Point aid station, around the halfway mark, will be well stocked to ensure you have a selection of nutrition to choose from. 

First off, it’s important to note that your race-day nutrition should not be different from what you do in training. You must practice your race day nutrition in training. Exact timing as well as quantities. Practicing it in training won’t only help you to see what works for you in terms of taste and gut tolerance, but it will also help you to know exactly what to do on race day without having to think about it or second guess yourself.

Individual requirements will vary from person to person, but a good rule of thumb is to aim for about 0.8-1g of carbohydrates per kg of body weight PER HOUR of exercise or 1g of carbohydrates per minute of exercise e.g. 60g per hour and upwards. Make sure that you progress towards this. Don’t start at 60g per hour if you are not used to this, as you may experience gut discomfort. Your gut needs to be trained, too, so build it slowly.

5. Recovery: What to eat after the race  

It is essential to ensure that you fuel your workouts before and recover after. A good guideline for after is aiming for a carb-to-protein ratio of 3:1 within 1h-1h30 of finishing the session (quick and easy: chocolate milk - a crowd pleaser). You want to aim for 20g of protein.

After training, your body has an increased ability to replenish glycogen stores, so the sooner you get that post-recovery snack/meal in, the better.

Note: These guidelines are general, and a more individually tailored nutrition plan is something you can get from a qualified dietitian who can help you tweak your nutritional needs specifically for you.

Otter Nutrition Plan

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Train Your Stomach
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1 - 0 Weeks to go

Sept Training Plan

5 - 2 Weeks to go

Sept Training Plan

9 - 6 Weeks to go

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13 - 10 Weeks to go

july training

17 - 14 Weeks to go

2023 June Otter Training Plans

22 - 18 Weeks to go

may training plans

26 - 23 Weeks to go

2023 April Otter Training Plans

30 - 27 Weeks to go

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Compulsory kit

Otter Bib

Bibs are provided at registration and are compulsory to be worn on the outside of your gear at any stage of the trail or prologue. If you wish to wear a rain jacket (or similar) over the shirt then an Otter bib must be worn on the outside.

Otter Shirts

Branded shirts may be purchased to wear in addition to the Otter bib. The Otter shirt is a technical garment and can be ordered in the Otter shop. Shirts will be personalized with your race number.

Personal Gear Sponsors

Sponsored athletes have the option to include a sponsor logo on their Otter shirt. Logos must be submitted to the race office in 1-colour in a vector file (eps, pdf, ai)

In Extreme Circumstances

Kit is not worn and carried just to look the part (although we agree, trail running kit is pretty cool), it is to keep you safe and could, in extreme circumstances, save your life. This is why we are so serious about compulsory kit and why we use weather condition forecasts (see below) to determine the kit items required to be carried by all participants.

Weather factors affect compulsory kit levels

Compulsory Kit - Level 1

Fine, mild, hot but dry

25%

Recommended Kit - Level 1

Compulsory Kit - Level 2

Cool and/or wet

60%

Recommended Kit - Level 2

Compulsory Kit - Level 3

Cold, wet and/or windy

75%

Recommended Kit - Level 3

Compulsory Kit - Level 4

Very cold, and/or heavy rain

90%

If conditions higher than Level 3 are predicted all kit required for Level 3 is compulsory.

In this case the official race will not take place,  parts of the course will be rerouted & time delays should be expected.

Cancelled Event - Level 5

High winds, flooding and/or violent storm conditions with dangerously high seas.

On Event Massages

Book in advance

There are many variables to running and managing the Otter but one thing we can guarantee is that your legs will be dying for a massage after finishing the race! The Southern Cape has some of the most highly rated sports masseurs, Jo-Anne van Vuuren and her colleagues from Aromaflex.

Make sure you book your massage in advance via email aromaflex2@gmail.com or 082-8209960.

MASSAGE - BOOKING

Otter / Medals

Medal categories

Race Athletes

Seven Time-based Medal Finisher Categories

Time Categories:
- Sub 4:00hrs
- Sub 4:30hrs
- Sub 5:00hrs
- Sub 6:00hrs
- Sub 7:00hrs
- Sub 8:00hrs 
- Under 9:00hrs (Otter in a Day)

 

Challenge Athletes

Two Time-based Medal Finisher Categories

Time Categories:
- Sub 8:00hrs
- Otter in a Day

Meals



Pre-race Breakfast

Launching soon

 

Award Ceremony Dinner

The dinner, followed by the award ceremony, will be held at Cattle Baron Restaurant, Storms River. The dinner for athletes is part of your entry fee and does not have to be booked! However if you wish to bring a partner to dinner, you would need to pre-book via the Otter shop as there is limited space.

Purchase Meal Tickets

Cancellation & Refund Policy

Event Cancellation

In the event of force majeure arising, including but not limited to inclement weather, changes in economic conditions, war, strike, changes in laws, regulations, or the like made by any competent authority, pandemic or any other external forces or act of God that are out of the control of the race organisers, the organisers may decide, in their sole and absolute discretion, to change the course to a safer alternative course, where possible, or cancel the event entirely. Such a decision will always be made in the interest of participant safety. If the event course is changed as aforesaid, or the event is cancelled, no refunds will be possible.

Substitutions

As most of the expenses incurred in staging this event are committed to in advance, refunds are only possible well in advance or when a replacement can be found. The following rules apply:

  • Full payment is required on entry
  • 90% refund policy up until 31 July 2024
  • Thereafter, refunds will only be processed with a substitution in place
  • No further substitutions will be processed from 31 August 2024
  • Deferrals are not permitted
  • Accommodations & meal tickets are refunded per the above entry refund policy.

The Otter African Trail events do not permit athletes to substitute an entry independently. Entries must be returned to the organisers and refunded per the refund policy*. Returned entries will only be made available to athletes on the waiting list.

*PREMIUM ENTRIES are under the general Refunds & Cancellation Policy but allow only one substitution to another athlete on their own.

**CORPORATE PACKAGE: all five entries are each eligible for two free changes (or fully transferable - but not deferrable) up until one month before the event.

Indemnity and Waiver

OTTER TRAIL RUN – RELEASE AND WAIVER OF LIABILITY AND INDEMNITY AGREEMENT

Read through carefully. You are giving away certain rights, and taking on certain liabilities, as explained below. Read, understand and accepted the following representations, stipulations and waiver.

I understand that The Otter (Pty) event, its organizers (which includes The Otter African Trail Event Sponsors; South African National Parks, Cape Pine and all governmental entities and other property owners or lessees, service providers, and any of them in combinations, and their officers, directors, agents, employees and contractors) will NOT BE LIABLE, neither financially nor legally, for any injury, illness (including contracting COVID-19), loss/damage to property (including 3rd party claim) or occurrence, arising from my participation (including, but not limited to, participation in the event, volunteering, contract work and sub-contracting work) and that accordingly, my participation in such activities are at my OWN RISK.

I understand that by its very nature, trail running is a potentially hazardous pastime requiring a higher-than-average degree of physical fitness, technical running skill and experience, and hereby declare that I consider myself prepared for participation n this event. I assume full responsibility for any medical problems which may affect my safety while participating in this event. I also assume full responsibility for any medical expenses I may incur as a result of my participation in this event.

I further understand that the above-mentioned events are by trail running standards a technically difficult trail run which involves the traversing of a wilderness trail over sharp, jagged and slippery rocks, etc., with sheer cliffs in the immediate proximity of the trail and that a fall on any part of the course could result in serious injury or even death, and I specifically indemnify The Otter (Pty) Ltd event organizers, owners and partners.

Accordingly, I hereby waive for myself, my personal representatives, heirs and next of kin, all claims which I might have against the event organizers for injury, accident, illness, property damage, death or other occurrence arising in any manner whatsoever out of my participation in the activities organized by The Otter (Pty) Ltd. I expressly assume all risks of my participation, including the risk that I might be injured as a result of negligence or gross negligence of the event organizers.

I further undertake to abide by the rules of the event and observe the instructions of the event officials AT ALL TIMES during the event. I also understand that my access to the areas, trails and roads in the National Parks, private nature reserves, private farmlands and private and public plantations has been negotiated on my behalf exclusively for the period of my participation in this event and that I will not return to these areas without the necessary permissions and/or permits and that doing so could result in prosecution for trespassing and banning from future participation in this event.

I further consent to and understand that all images, social media content and TV footage taken by the event’s contracted photographers and film Production Companies during the entire period of the event are the property of The Otter (Pty) Ltd and can be used in any media (print, electronic, etc.).

You have read this and are taking part in this event.

Policy

Supporters Activity

Bloukrans Hike

Activity Bus for Supporters

We will once again be offering family and friends the opportunity to observe the dramatic Bloukrans River Crossing. Hikers will be collected from the Khoisan Village (The entrance to Tsitsikamma Khoisan Village is located 1 km East of the Bloukrans bridge) on the morning of the event (Departure Times TBD) and transported to the top of the E6 Emergency Exit above the infamous Bloukrans River mouth. From there, you will hike the 200 vertical meters down to the Otter Trail and onto the pebble beach where you will see the participants attempt the crossing. Participants of the Bloukrans Bus are not guaranteed to catch the same runners at the finish line in Natures Valley as there is simply not enough time.