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
Four River Crossings
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 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.
Latest Training Plans
Alpasfit has designed all-new, category-specific Training Plans for runners fighting the Challenge cut-off to those gunning for the fearsome sub-6 hour Race.
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30 - 27 Weeks to go
32 - 31 Weeks to go
2023 Otter Training Plans by Alpasfit
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.
Polarised Training is the type of training we follow at Alpasfit. We work on the 80/20 principle, meaning 80% of your runs will take place at an easy intensity in the aerobic zones at a low HR. The remaining 20% is where we develop speed and where you can bring the heat!
A training plan to run the Otter consists of the following four aspects, which will make the race more accessible, more enjoyable, and, should you be that way inclined, faster:
- Base level endurance – the focus here is on easy mileage. The Otter is a marathon distance trail run, so at the very least, you should be able to run a marathon. Specific to this event, much of your base training should be done on the trail, not the road.
- Stairs – there are many stairs and step-ups on the Otter trail, so being strong in this discipline will help you A LOT!
- Interval training - This, for some, is the most challenging part of training, but if done correctly, it can offer the most benefits.
- Strength training - Due to the nature of the trail and the number of stairs, strength training will help significantly and assist with injury prevention.
- The plan is set on a four-week cycle, where load and intensity build to the third week, and the fourth is a recovery week.
- The last cycle of the program includes a taper (decrease in training load) 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 specific to running training but refers to cross-training and strength training sessions.
If you have any questions, please get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org
This program has been designed by Lijan van Niekerk alongside the Coaches at Alpasfit to assist runners in preparing for the Otter. 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 a moderate level of fitness to finish the Otter in your goal time. It is essential to listen to your body while you follow the plans. Rather get to the race slightly under-trained than not getting there at all.
The training plans should be used as a structured guideline. Your discretion is required when sick or injured. If you cannot keep up with the plan or pick up an injury, please consult with the appropriate professional (Doctor, Physiotherapist, Biokineticist or Alpasfit Coach).
Look after yourself and good luck!
If you wish to sign up for personalised one-on-one coaching, please get in touch with Alpasfit Coaching Academy. We offer a bespoke training plan with weekly check-ins, feedback and monitoring via TrainingPeaks. This includes detailed workouts synced to your watch and full access to a coach for questions and expert advice.
We recommend weekly strength training with a professional strength coach to reduce the risk of injury. Alpasfit also offers customised strength training plans in collaboration with Runstrong and Rainsford biokinetics, so please get in touch with us should you be interested.
Training Plan References:
Easy Run - A run where you can hold a conversation. It should be in your 4-6/10 effort level or Zone 1 or 2. If you use a heart-rate monitor, use Phil Maffetone’s formula of 180 minus your age, or keep your heart rate below 70% of your maximum heart rate. If this is not done correctly, it can lead to overtraining and injuries.
Strength Training - If you are unsure of what to do here, please get in touch with Alpasfit for a customised strength program by Runstrong.
Fartlek - A Swedish word roughly meaning 'speed play'. Fartlek training involves varying the intensity and speed of your run so that you intermix periods of fast running with periods of slower running.
Lactate Threshold - If you want to improve as a runner, it’s worth learning about this critical zone and how to train in it successfully. Contact Alpasfit to customise your training based on this proven method.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
Cancellation & Refund Policy
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 up until 25 July 2023
- No refunds or substitutions from 25 July 2023 onwards
- Deferrals are not permitted
- Accommodations, Meal tickets, and Bloukrans Hike are eligible for the same % refunds as above. 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
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.
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.