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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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…
At CP 4 I started to realise that I had not done enough distance training and I slowed down dramatically.
It was frustrating, yet seemed as though I was running through a garden:
Tale: I’m glad I appreciated the beauty and what the long day had provided me – I was privileged to say the least!
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.
Without my cheerleader and support I would never had been able to traverse and climb over and back over the mountain in the background.
What a run, what a mountain, what a day!
For results see: