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Creating value with running trails

All you need to cater for the rapidly growing trail running community is a trail

By Rob Batemen

, |

Creating value with running trails

All you need to cater for the rapidly growing trail running community is a trail

By Rob Batemen

, |

3 min read

Developing trails in estates not only adds value to properties but provides safe and healthy opportunities for residents – and also creates unique selling features with little investment.

Trail running – a race to get ahead

Ready, set, go! And the race is on. Road running in South Africa still leads trail running in terms of the number of people who participate, but running brands across the board have seen a remarkable increase in trail running over the past five years, both in terms of sales of trail shoes and the growing popularity of trail events over road events.

Road running is much more accessible and for the most part is safer as it can be done in population-dense areas. Trail running, by its nature, and part of why it is becoming so popular, is more remote and often takes more time to get to.

Urban trails in cities that cut through green belts and public parks are becoming more common, with purpose-built trails becoming more prevalent not only in suburbs and cities, but now also in residential estates.

In for the short run

Developers of smaller estates, or those with limited space, may think that a trail build is not suitable, but using perimeters, bi-directional paths and roads to link the trails allows runners to create their own favourite routes. Obstacles and features such as bridges, steps or rocky sections keep trails exciting, and give runners the option to make a route as long or as short as they like.

Renowned ultra-runner, Ryan Sandes, who has a slew of ultra-long-distance trail running wins to his name, chose to live in Chapman’s Bay Estate because of its position adjacent to some of the best trail running routes in Cape Town. More importantly, he says, ‘having a trail within the estate not only provides me with a quickly accessible workout, but also offers me the opportunity to train with my family in a fun and secure environment.’

Trail networks can become social networks, as trail running groups and communities are created around the facilities, bringing like-minded individuals together.


Plan from the beginning

Many estates offer tennis courts, volleyball facilities and jetties that are expensive to build and require regular, costly maintenance. By contrast, trail building and maintenance are relatively inexpensive. The very nature of trail running encourages trail designers to work with what is there – following fence lines, and using natural obstacles such as rock gardens or boulders. Trail development requires minimal maintenance, and trails merely need some weeding or bush clearing, or perhaps, after a while, harder surfaces may need a little compacting to prevent erosion.

Running trails can open up a world of hidden natural features; trails are often far from flat as they follow the natural contours of the local landscape and undulate with breathy ascents and exhilarating descents to keep runners challenged and having fun.

Running trails are also able to seamlessly blend into other estate features such as golf courses – roughs transform into challenging leg drives, fairways become sprints, and the 19th hole … well, everyone enjoys a good watering hole. In some estates running trails have, over time, matured into MTB trails with little to no additional cost as most trails are easily ridable. And, of course, the opposite is true – existing MTB trails often make great running trails.

Bonus – extra security

Trails designed along the fence perimeters, like those in Chapman‘s Bay, provide an additional level of security, with trail users becoming extra eyes and ears ‘on the ground’, and they will also very quickly notice any potential security vulnerabilities.

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