Otter info

retto route map

2023 Otter Trail Run

Storms River Mouth Start

All athletes will be transported to the starting point at Storms River. There are 3 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 profile

Otter Trail 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 50m elevation gain with 3 climbs exceeding 100 meters.

Pace Splits

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 by Alpasfit

Landie & Christiaan Greyling will help you with your preparation


Getting Started

Polarized Training is the type of training we prescribe and recommend at Alpasfit. We suggest completing a VO2max test + Lactate Threshold in order to determine your training zones. To make a booking at the lab in Stellenbosch please contact or for a suggestion of the closest testing facility to you. A training plan to run the Otter should consist of three aspects all of which will help to make the trail easier, more enjoyable and, should you be that way inclined, faster:

  1. Base level endurance – this is your distance running. The Otter trail is a marathon distance trail run, so at the very least you should be able to run a marathon. Specific to this event, a lot of your base training should be done on trail and not on the road.
  2. Stairs – there is a great number of stairs and step-ups on the Otter Trail so being strong in this discipline will help you a LOT!
  3. Interval training – This, for some, is the most difficult part of training but, if done correctly, can offer the most benefits.


  • The given Otter training plans include 6 x 4 week build cycles toward the event date.
  • The plan is set on a 4-week cycle, where loads build to week 3 to include an active recovery 4th week.
  • Every 4-week cycle will build progressively until the 5th cycle, to include a taper (decrease in training load) in cycle 6 in preparation for the event.
  • Training loads given are designed to start off lightly, assuming fitness level is low and to then progressively build as the weeks go by.
  • The training plan is designed to provide Otter-specific guidelines to trail run training.
  • These plans are structured for the novice to intermediate trail runner with a low to moderate fitness level.
  • The training plan is specific to running training, but makes reference to sessions for cross training and strength training.
  • The training plans can be used as a structured guideline for your training where your own discretion is required on training plan selection and training load.


This program has been designed by the Coaches at Alpasfit to assist runners in their preparation for the Otter. Both Landie and Christiaan Greyling won the Otter race and have been on the podium numerous times. The training plans should be used as a guideline, based on moderate level of fitness to finish the Otter in your goal time. It is important to listen to your body while you follow the plans, rather get to the race start slightly under-trained than not getting there at all.

Should you wish to receive daily workouts directly on your Garmin and/or emails with your exercises, please contact Alpasfit (Coaching Academy of Landie and Christiaan Greyling) to sign-up for more personalised one-on-one coaching. To reduce the risk of injury we recommend weekly strength training with a professional strength coach. Alpasfit also offers customised strength training plans in collaboration with Runstrong and Rainsford biokinetics, so please contact us should you be interested.

If you find you're unable to keep up with the plan or you pick up an injury please consult with the appropriate professional (Dr, Biokineticist, Coach etc). Look after yourself and good luck!

Training Plan Definitions

Easy Run - An Easy run should be in your 5-6/10 Effort level or Zone 1 or 2 out of 5 if you are using a Heart-rate monitor, i.e 50-70% of your maximum heart rate. If this is not done correctly, it can lead to overtraining and injuries. Please see the article on Alpasfit FB page for more information on this: Polarized training.

Strength Training - If you are unsure of what to do here, please contact Alpasfit for a customized strength program by Runstrong.

Fartlek - A very simple form of a speed session. Fartlek training “is simply defined as periods of fast running intermixed with periods of slower running.”

Lactate Threshold - If you want to make improvements as a runner, then it’s worth learning about this important zone and how to successfully train in it. Contact us to customize your training based on this proven method.

Otter Training Plans

January Training Plan

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February Training Plan

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March Training Plan

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Endurance Nutrition, by Kauai

With Kauai on board as our official Wellness Partner, they’ve got all the resources needed for the best nutrition to complement your training routine, ensuring you perform your best at this year’s Retto. Fueling 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.

Kauai Smart Meals is the answer if you need convenient macro-balanced meals that are developed based on your unique needs:

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 at the 2022 Retto will be stocked with Kauai snacks that have all been selected to help you have your best race.

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.

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


Recommended Kit - Level 1

Compulsory Kit - Level 2

Cool and/or wet


Recommended Kit - Level 2

Compulsory Kit - Level 3

Cold, wet and/or windy


Recommended Kit - Level 3

Compulsory Kit - Level 4

Very cold, and/or heavy rain


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.


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 or 082-8209960.

Otter / Medals

7 time-based medal categories

Medal Finisher Categories

Otter - Race Athletes

7 Medal Categories:
- Sub 4:00hrs
- Sub 4:30hrs
- Sub 5:00hrs
- Sub 6:00hrs
- Sub 7:00hrs
- Sub 8:00hrs 
- Otter in a Day will be given to the under 9:00hrs finishers.

Otter - Challenge Athletes

2 Medal Categories:
- Sub 8:00hrs
- Otter in a Day


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.

Refund & Cancellation Policy

Event Cancellation

In the event of inclement weather, economic, or any other external forces that are out of control of the race organisers, the organisers may decide to change the course to a safer alternative course or cancel the event entirely. Such a decision will only be made in the interest of participant safety. If the event is cancelled, no refunds will be possible.

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
  • 100% refund policy for as long as a substitute athlete can be found through the waiting list
  • No refunds or waiting list substitutions from 25 August 2023
  • Deferrals are not permitted
  • Accommodations, Mealtickets, and Bloukrans Hike are eligible for the same % refunds as above. Race shirts however are only eligible until the 15 July 2023. You can also choose to keep or reallocate these additions to another athlete. Any additional tickets are refundable on the same basis



The Otter African Trail events do not permit athletes to substitute an entry on their own. Entries will have to be returned to the organisers and refunded according to 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 for only 1 substitution to another athlete on their own.

**CORPORATE PACKAGE all 5 entries are each eligible for 2 free changes (or fully transferable - but not deferrable) up until 1 month prior to the event




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.