Merrell Whale of Trail – in partnership with Cape Nature
53km of Wildlife, Whales and the WOW factor

16 January 2021

Update – 9 Jul 2020 – New dates for the 2020 Whale of Trail Event

We have taken the time over the past month to try to get an understanding of how things will progress with the COVID-19 restrictions and what the future will be like for events. Currently the situation in South Africa is critical, with case numbers rising in all corners of our country. We are sympathetic to effects this pandemic is having on everyone.

Considering all the factors, we feel it is prudent to postpone the 2020 Whale of Trail event to 16 Jan 2021, when we hope things will have stabilised. We avoid the congested Sep-Nov 2020 period and provide an event at a time when traditionally there is very few ultra events. We are excited at the prospect of staging a Whale of Trail that will provide different conditions to those normally experienced during the traditional time slot of July / August.  The event in January will be mid-summer and heat will play a significant role.

Update – 4 June 2020 – What a difference a few months make!

We are now almost half way through 2020 and don’t really have any idea when public gatherings will be allowed under the current government restrictions or whether we will actually return to some sort of “normality” this year.

Since the last update that we sent on the 4th May, things unfortunately have not opened up as we all hoped they would. We have now taken the decision to postpone the event until Oct / Nov 2020. This was not an easy decision and not one we took lightly. We are bitterly disappointed and hope that you will all understand.

We are working with our partners, CapeNature, to secure dates and will advise in the coming weeks.

Full details on

Treat yourself to a premier race event this year

South Africa’s iconic five day Whale Trail hiking route is offered as a challenge to runners capable of embracing all 53km and 1900m elevation as a TRAIL RUNNING ULTRA, packed with spectacular mountain fynbos, technical rocky ridgelines, sandy beach stretches and endless, mind blowing, beautiful vistas all in one day.

It has become a must-do for those who have already tackled the more conventional runs out there and bragging rights on this one are substantial!

The Merrell Whale of Trail event is the only opportunity each year for a limited number of nature loving athletes to run hard on this trail while treading lightly on the earth.

Just a 3 hour drive from Cape Town or George along the Southern Cape coast, close to Cape Agulhas, the route takes runners on a journey from the base of the Potberg mountain to the beach at Koppie Alleen in CapeNature’s flagship De Hoop Nature Reserve. The first half winds up and along fynbos covered peaks, past the Cape Vulture colony, with spectacular views of the Breede River Valley, and then descends to the enchanting Noetsie Bay, turning west and winding along the rocky shores of the Indian Ocean, with a mix of beach and coasteering trails.

If this is just a few steps too far, there’s now also a 35km route starting and ending in the same glorious places, with a well designed cut through that still gives you a taste of everything that the area has to offer. Perfect for those not quite ready for an ultra distance but wanting to be a part of the incredible race atmosphere.

Chaperoned by Whales

Bang on the peak of whale season, runners are left wondering who is watching who as scores of the annual migratory Southern Right Whales and their calves continually breach out the water, spy hopping and waving their fins at the passers-by, making for the best and most enthusiastic cheerleaders.

Keeping it always pristine and personal

The finish area at Koppie Alleen is a festive affair. Situated right above the beach, spectators may forget to look for their runners while mesmerised by the whales, exploring the dunes and many rock pools packed with prolific life – thanks to the long standing protection offered by the marine reserve – or enjoying the food freshly prepared by the caterers.

Finishers lounge on bean bags, feast on wholesome meals and relive the day’s achievement before hopping aboard the shuttle bus back to the race village.

The historic and picturesque De Hoop Collection, situated alongside the Ramsar wetland vlei offers not only sublime accommodation but also excellent guided birding excursions, nature walks and boat trips, mountain biking trails and a spa for the ultimate indulgence. Traffic in your way on the walk to the Briefing or Prizegiving dinners comes in the form of herds of eland, bontebok and the rare mountain zebra.

In 2018 we introduced the Merrell Whale Journey to tie in with the race event. This is a unique opportunity for just a dozen decadent lovers of life and trail to gallivant along the route over two days; running, exploring and just being. Combined with sumptious eating and drinking and starlit immersive experience at the delightful Noetsie Hut with indulgent evenings before and afterwards at the magnificent De Hoop Collection. The Journey starts the day before the main race covering 28km and finishes the 25km next day to the same warm welcome and sense of accomplishment.

The 2019 offering was cancelled due to the reserve undertaking extensive refurbishment on all the trail huts.

It will be back on offer in 2020

Full details and entry form on