The global success of ultra distance trail running is primarily due to the combination of athletics, adventure and travel.  Beyond the simple athletic performance, more and more individuals flock to this sport because it is an invitation to travel the world, and to discover beautiful landscapes in a preserved environment. 

It is with this in mind the race was born in 2014 thanks to the work done by the teams at Table Mountain National Park and Ultra-trail Cape Town.  The concept of the race was hinged around the magnificent natural and urban settings Table Mountain National Park and the City of Cape Town has on offer, and the unique way different communities can be joined together by a route that traverses the mountainscapes of Table Mountain National Park.

Ultra-Trail Cape Town takes place predominantly on the trails of the Table Mountain National Park and its surrounds.  The National Park is a fragile natural environment that we need to ensure we protect and maintain in the pristine way in which it is intended.  In order to do so, we count on each and every runner to play their part when running on the mountain and trails to limit the impact on the environment to an absolute minimum.


UTCT has developed numerous methods to protect the natural environment and to raise awareness amongst all involved with the event.  This is a collective effort that involves working with our partners SANParks, Table Mountain National Park, the City of Cape Town and the International Trail Running Association, as well as the runners and supporters, sponsors and volunteers.


To ensure the sustainability of the event and the trails the event takes place on, UTCT has set out a strategic plan that seeks to commit to the following protocols:


  • Link with like-minded suppliers and service providers who practise ethical environmental policies.

  • Enhanced waste management.

  • Promote responsible water use.

  • Promote and favour group travel.

  • Inform and educate people at the event to be a part of sustainable practices.

  • Encourage and increase the purchase of local, ethical, sustainable goods and services.

  • Protect and conserve the natural environment.

  • Encourage participants to become ambassadors and to advocate the protection and conservation of the natural environment.

  • Communicate sustainable values to our partners, sponsors and the runners.

  • Develop the appreciation of the natural environment with social and cultural values of the area.

  • Increase awareness and visibility of the environmental diversity in the Table Mountain National Park.


In order to achieve real benefits, it is essential that all parties work together towards sustaining the natural environment with a focus on trail preservation, by improving and maintaining the trails and environment in which the event passes through.  This ensures we provide a safe route for UTCT runners, as well as enjoyment of the trail by the growing numbers of the general public who spend time hiking and running all year round.


In 2017, UTCT hosted representatives from the various environmental organisations, groups, and trail running community to put together an Environmental Charter.


We, the participants, organisers and service providers of trail running events, acknowledge the beauty and value of the natural environments in which these events take place and recognise that running through these places is a privilege. We realise the importance of maintaining the integrity of these environments and undertake to act as guardians and ambassadors for the environment, both locally and globally.  


We commit to the following:


  • Taking responsibility:

We acknowledge that all our activities have an impact on the natural environment.  Through trail running, we come into close contact with nature, and we have the opportunity to minimise the negative impacts of this activity on the environment and to proactively assist with and support the conservation of natural environments, the restoration of ecosystems and responsible stewardship of the earth.


We understand that, as the trail running community, we can effect change by taking responsibility for the natural environments.  We accept this responsibility to care for the environments in which we live, work and run, both local landscapes and global systems.


  • Treading lightly:

We commit to always being conscious of the impacts of trail running on the ecological systems we use, and to responding to these risks by managing when,  where and how we use them. We will also seek to “tread lightly on the planet” and to ensure that we do not exceed the capacity of these environments to support our activities.


  • Holistic approach to waste:

We commit to the principle of taking out what we bring in.  This involves ensuring that no waste is left behind when we leave natural environments, including solid waste and human waste, and that adequate systems are in place and utilised to effectively manage waste in these environments.  We commit to considering the full life-cycle costs of all goods and services used during and in the organisation of the events, and to prioritising goods and services that are sustainably and locally produced and result in minimal waste.  We will also seek to reuse and recycle waste wherever possible.


  • Supporting conservation:

We commit to respecting those who manage and conserve natural environments and protected areas, to learning from them, assisting them where possible and to conscientiously obeying the rules they put in place.  We undertake to act generously in supporting conservation efforts and, if possible, to volunteer our time and energy to support this cause.


  • Reducing emissions:

We undertake to minimise the impact of trail running on the global natural environment.  This includes reducing our contribution to climate change through greenhouse gas emissions by promoting sustainable procurement processes, minimising waste, reducing travel on aeroplanes and single occupancy vehicles and using public and non-motorised transport where possible.  We also undertake to reduce any other sources of greenhouse gas emissions and pollution associated with these events as far as possible.


  • Restoration:

Recognising that it is impossible to completely avoid impact on the natural systems, we commit to strive to ensure that trail running events take responsibility to facilitate the restoration of environmental damage incurred during the event and leave the environment in which they occurred in a better state than they were before the event started.


  • Actively learning:

We commit to being open to the experience of being in these places, to seeking to learn about them and engage with them, and to teaching and sharing what we learn and experience with others, using the opportunity that nature provides to engage with people from diverse backgrounds and perspectives.


  • Sharing inspiration:

We seek to be ambassadors of the environment, to share the inspiration we find in nature with others and, through our attitudes and actions, to encourage them to care for the environment.


We understand that conservation of the environment cannot and should not be independent of caring for people.  To ensure that we are able to pass on the full benefits of the natural environment to future generations, we need to consider the effects of our actions on human development and social justice as well as on the natural environment.


Environmental Charter