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Cape Mile – 14 February 2015

The inaugural Cape Mile was held at Eikenhof Dam, Grabouw. Water temperature was great at 25 degrees and over 1000 swimmers took part in varying age groups.

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Each age group took off at different times which made the start quite pleasant and smooth!

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Overall, the swim was tough, yet a great joy!

Joseph - Cape Mile swim (1)

 

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Joseph - Cape Mile swim (2)

For results, visit: http://www.stillwatersports.com/event/cape-mile/

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Marloth Mountain Challenge – 27 September 2014

As I write this, I do so after 5 and a half months after I crossed the finish line of this incredible trail run. This is probably because it took a lot out of me physically in which I have been suffering with a chronic knee injury due to it; or should I say monster of an extreme run! As I recover, so I realise that timing is probably everything in even writing this Tale so I can give it the due weight of words it deserves. Therefore as time progresses, so I’m appreciating more and more the joy of being able to have completed this incredible event. It’s humbling how the injury has dampened my experience over the past few months of being able to have done it.

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Run in Cape Nature’s Marloth Nature Reserve, Swellendam, this 55km circular Mountain Trail Challenge is a very special event. It ticks all the boxes in being an Ultra in distance, elevation gain of 3495 meters (one of the highest of the Sky Runs in SA – classified as an Ultra Skymarathon), incredible scenery beyond question, weather extremes from bright sunshine to a hail storm, a classic European town start and finish, great organisation by Wildrunner and most importantly, incredible relentless, technical, sandy and rocky mountain single track trail amongst fine Fynbos!

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Trail running is emotional…stories to be had and then told from changes that happen because of the experiences. This Tale and photographs tells this story, a story of probably one of my most epic trail races.

Enjoy!

The start – let’s just say I was numb to what I was going to experience. The inaugural event – I think every competitor somewhat underestimated it! Training wasn’t that great leading up to this point due to boil poisoning, but as they say – no excuses! Tale to be told: getting to the start line is what it’s about!

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Realising that I wasn’t at the best place physically quite early on in stage one, it was about pacing and just enjoying the incredible single track. Uphill was a mare and I struggled to keep the pace. Low cloud and now steady rain, it was becoming an all out battle to reach the highest point at approximately 1300m.

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Then the decent to CP2 was great – super rocky and technical, placing 14th position at this point. Wanting to catch the runners ahead of me I pushed on, but the next climb that takes us back over to the Swellendam side of it proved to be the decider – my legs just struggled to move…then the hail storm!

It caught me at the crest of the climb and most of the traverse to CP3. To put it into a Tale: hail at pace on face = pins and needles on face – it was pretty harsh!

 

CP3 was interesting – the medics had to open my zip-lock bags for me for my nutritional intake as my hands were frozen – it slowed me down, but I didn’t mind, I was determined to continue with this race and get to the finish line.

What transpired from here was simply breathtaking…the clouds started parting ways and soon I could see the vistas and appreciate the long, knee socket wrenching descent. I was tired, but elated, alone, however not done yet…

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At CP 4 I started to realise that I had not done enough distance training and I slowed down dramatically.

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It was frustrating, yet seemed as though I was running through a garden:

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Tale: I’m glad I appreciated the beauty and what the long day had provided me – I was privileged to say the least!

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The finish came somewhat quicker than expected – a fast long run down to the centre of town, my legs picked up the pace as it reminded me of my road running days…

Tale: it was great to be prepared and have the correct kit – it really makes all the difference and it could’ve been a completely different and potentially dangerous situation out there.

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Without my cheerleader and support I would never had been able to traverse and climb over and back over the mountain in the background.

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What a run, what a mountain, what a day!

For results see:

https://sites.google.com/site/mountainchallengeza/mmc/results

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Groot Winterhoek – 13-16 August 2014

Part of Cape Nature’s vast portfolio of wilderness areas, the Groot Winterhoek Wilderness Area is situated about 2 hours north of Cape Town, south of the Cederberg catchment area. This elevated plateau which supplies the majority of fresh water to the homes of Capetonian’s, is home to one of the remotest of hiking trails in the Western Cape, if not South Africa. Groot_Mobii LayerWe took on this trail directly after visiting the Cederberg (see previous Tale), which consisted of 4 days (represented by each colour in the map above), and 3 nights in this remote wilderness, fully self sufficient – food and shelter, excluding water (which was naturally plentiful and sweet to the taste). Being completely alone for 4 days (except for airplanes coming and going overhead) with no cell phone reception, this trail proved to test us in many ways, yet provide unique memories that will last a lifetime…

Day 1 – Start to Low-water bridge, 8.2km

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This first day was just miserable. We started in the rain, all smiles around; yet arriving at the Low-water bridge was a relief second to none as we were drenched and somewhat sick of rain. It was a challenging, yet beautiful down hill nevertheless. We managed to set up our tent (Swedish Hilleberg Tarra) when there was a break in the rain for a bit, but then it was tested and held up very well in the rain which was a spectacular torrent the whole night…

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Day 2 – Low-water bridge to Perdevlei, 9.6km

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In sticking our head out of our tent we were pleasantly surprised at the beauty and vastness of the colours of Fynbos that the reserve has to offer – probably because of its remoteness, this place doesn’t get much human interference. Our packs seemed heavier today and after ascending what seemed to be fake-flat (a term used in trail running where a flat isn’t actually flat!), we were treated to the heart of the Groot Winterhoek – a beautiful view of the 2078m peak of Groot Winterhoek. It was slow going, and after searching in vain for a place to pitch our tent at Perdevlei, we had to desperately retract our steps and find a reasonable flat opening amongst the Fynbos to make camp. We set up tent with the sun setting behind the hill we had just ascended earlier.

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Day 3 – Perdevlei to Disa Pool, 11.2km

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This was one of the longest, yet most rewarding days on the trail. It is said there is always sun behind the cloud, and as it parted, so we really started to experience the ‘other side’ of the Groot Winterhoek – the hot, exposed days. The day started with a very tough technical climb and then an undulating meander back along towards our starting point 2 days earlier. Rock formations everywhere, one started feeling like we were walking through an antiquity of Creation – untouched and unspoilt.

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Day 4 – Disa Pool to Start, 2.9km

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This ‘cool down’ walk back to the start where we found our vehicle and some civilization proved to be somewhat of a reflective time of the past 3 days as we took in the sun and enjoyed the flat single track. Looking back at the mountains we had just passed through cemented this experience as one we will never forget, yet somewhat toughened us up!

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Here’s to the Groot Winterhook – a wilderness of extreme contrasts, beauty all around!

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Cederberg – 10-13 August 2014

A few nights ‘in the berg’ proved to be more than just a few nights, but rather a full on adventure of some great outdoor exploring and pushing the limits…a bit!

 

Staying in the Peerboom Hut just south of Algeria, proved to be a great ‘base camp’ from which we could explore the surrounding mountains.

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Due to the vast trails in the Cederberg we had to be quite selective in what we chose to do – the first being somewhat of a warm up of a 5km up and down the hillside to the infamous Uitkyk Pass.

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We decided to do a 20km circular loop the next day in and around the peaks just above Algeria campsite – just a great day out with a backpack, some munchies, warm clothes, a mini First Aid kit, and a camera to tell a Tale…

The scenery was incredible – amazing rock formations everywhere.

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What transpired next was somewhat of a personal embarrassment: we ended up doing 30km after getting lost – with a map and GPS! We realised we had gone too far after coming across and passing what is known as Crystal Pool:

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From here on back it was about getting back on track – literally! Here is the remainder of our Cederberg Tale:

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