Thursday, October 1, 2015


This journey to Marloth started back in January 1988 when I hiked the 5 day trail with a couple of friends! All I remember was it was a trail I wanted to come back too…

Then in 2014 Wildrunner put on a mountain series, 3 races, 3 mountains… The 3rd was MARLOTH… I was in, Swellendam here I come.

I did get to Swellendam in 2014 but not on race day!

2015 and I was back in Swellendam and ready to race… (is one ever ready to race something that big?)


We started in the old Drostdy Museumand headed out onto the quite streets of Swellendam – we had to get to the mountain. I took the early lead knowing that while the running was easy I had to run…
                Some 2.5km later as we left the Town and hit the trails I slowed knowing it was going to be a long day on the mountain (remember last time I did this route it took me 5 days!) and I didn’t want to waste early energy.

Bernard was the first guy to catch me and I let him pass and disappear up the trail into the mist! Nic was next… I didn’t let him sit behind me, but waved him past, he had 4 mins on Bernie in the series and had to keep him in sight today to stand a chance of holding onto his lead!
                I hoped they would push themselves to breaking point and I would be there to pick up the pieces!
Early days!
Lucas then joined me and the 2 of us reached the top of the first climb together, it was now time for running and I took the pace as we rounded the mountain. I looked at my watch and with the first hours of running done we had only covered 8km and it was time for the next climb (not that we hadn’t been climbing all the time!)
                Martin had now joined us and having run the race the year before he talked us through the climb.

I remember reaching the top of that climb back in ’88 and seeing the overnight hug down in the valley. We had almost no view with the mountain covered in mist / cloud. There is something magic about a mountain… and the clouds would lift and reveal the hidden beauty… across the vally we could see the trail on the other side. (no sight of Bernie and Nic, they were gone!)

Now with something as long as this, you have to run in your comfort zone and so I like to lead, setting my pace for the climbs and descents… But today I wasn’t moving fast enough on the ‘flats’ so Martin took the lead and Lucus followed. I could have gone with, but the idea of running for 7+ hours scared me. (as it should)

They didn’t disappear but slowly pulled ahead, I would catch sight of them as they pushed on to the end of leg 1. Andrew was now catching me and danced down the mountain leaving my old body and dodgy eyes to slowly negotiate my way over the rocks and boulders…
End of Leg 1
                I saw Andrew reach the check point about 4-5mins ahead of me, but I was still warming up and the race was a long way from run, so bring it on.

3h30 and only 24.6km done (1760m climb) this race was far from over… I was feeling fine and ready to tack on the next leg. My memory from ’88 had this leg as a flat section to the base of the next climb… it wasn’t flat and the path wasn’t easy and I now had a relay runner with me. The two of us yo-yoed to the climb when I passed him and started up the mountain, with already over 1700m of climb under us it was going to be easy going!

I could now feel my legs and while my pack was getting lighter (eating food: energy bars, trail mix, boerewors, braaied ostrich (it was going down well) and potato salad (note to self not a good idea, to messy!) and drinking water and TURBOVITE for energy), so the pack was lighter, but it felt heavier and heavier as I climbed, but that wasn’t slowing me down! I could feel my heart beating like a wild horse fenced in by my rib cage!!!
                I slowed and turned to look at the view WOW… 

Now to get to the saddle and the ‘flat’ easy running section to the next hut… In ’88 it was 30+*C with NO water in sight… today it was cold and damp with the clouds coming and going. My easy going didn’t last long I needed a walk and then one of my athletes, Nick (another Nick, must be a good name for trail running!) caught up, he was having a great day. I let him pass and stopped to eat a banana! The relay guy also passed. But my race wasn’t over and after a photo or two I was on my way again. After checking in at the old overnight hut I was on my way again passing the relay guy again…

The climb out of the valley started well and I wasn’t losing any more time on Nick, the gap was only 2min… but the top of the climb didn’t come soon enough and I had to back off… I looked back!
That's the top...
The 1st lady (Katya) was now running me down and while I beat her to the top she was light on her feet and danced over the top and all I could do was step aside and watch this Mountain Princess  role her kingdom…

Dancing Queen!
 I set chase, but it didn’t take long for her to show me who was boss!

The next check point was at the bottom of the mountain and with only a couple of km till then it wasn’t going to be a gentle drop (4km and 800m drop!) Finally I could see the next hut and then a mass of relay runners set off! They were given a mass start so as to get people off the mountain before dark.

Dawn had headed out to this hut to support and was there to cheer me on… at times in leg 2 I would have like the race to be ending here, but after a short stop to refuel I was ready to run down some relay runners.
last steps to the hut
I was now 6 hours into the race, leg 2’s 17km (760m climb) had taken 2h33, but with only 16km to go, it was doable! Dawn told me that Katya was only 3min ahead, and since I was feeling good again I set about the chase. With Relay runners on the path she wasn’t all that I was chasing!!!

I looked back to the start of the last leg
                On the first climb I started to run (walk) down the slower relay guys (and girls). That first climb was fine, but it was on the downhill that I got my legs back and running was great. I had looked at my race number (the route profile is on it) and saw that this leg had 2 bumps on it and with one of them already conquered I was as good as home…

How wrong I was…

I caught Katya at the start of the climb and having run with her on many occasions the 2 of us started up… and up and up… I kept hoping that the climb would end, but I could see people on the path above, I looked at the profile again and saw that this climb short break and then it kicked up again…

Oh dear…

This 2nd climb broke me again and I had to wave Katya on for a 2nd time! I stood there for a bit wondering just how much more of the 3500m of climb was left. Finally it was over, but it wasn’t the downhill I had dreamed of! There was no path for free flowing running like the lost down… I reached one spot and just stood there looking it was slippery and steep I couldn’t see a way down… (maybe my eyes were floating in lactic acid!) I ended up sitting down and sliding to the river!

At last the turn to take us off the mountain, we were now on the path we had started on it was runnable and taking us home. Darryn wasn’t running when he passed me he was flying! I loved hitting the road at the bottom and with only 2.5km to go I was running again…

Garmin called it 57.1km,with 3415m climb and I had been out there for 8h30:52 my longest run ever!

In summary: This is not an easy flat trail race, if you want something easy go do The Otter Trail, it’s a well-kept trail and isn’t likely to chew you up and spit you out…  MARLOTH is a mountain trail that keeps reminding you that you are small and those mountains are big… don’t stand on the start line without doing your homework!

Saturday, September 19, 2015


I’ve been racing for a long time and I never really have been a all my eggs in one basket kind of guy… That said I don’t race every weekend, while I might find myself at a lot of races I do use a number of them as training…

Now over the last couple of weeks I have spent a lot of time on the mountain training for an Ultra 55-60km with 3000m climb. Most weeks would start with me thinking about what sort of route I should run as training! So while I was thinking wear to run I realized since it was TMC on this weekend I should plan my route around the race so I could watch / support…

Next thing I know I had entered…! Yes it’s now 10km longer than the old days and at 44km a lot longer than I wanted, but a man’s got to do what a man’s got to do! I didn’t taper, I didn’t rest up, I just told myself: I’m not racing, it’s just my weekend long run…

I lined up with the elites on a perfect morning...
What a start area!
Trevor counted us down and I took off 100m dash style... 
My Vivo's are like spikes on a track!
That lasted all of 100m to the first hill... There I started to walk, Micheal kept running and broke off the front, Nic and Edson follow and so did a couple of the other guys. I was going to take this easy and after that short hill and the decent that follow we started climbing up to the Signal Hill Rd, I was in no rush and started walking again, infact everyone was walk the climb...

Once on the road the race started, I counted the guys up front and moved up a couple of places to 10th... With Table Mountain ahead of us it was going to be a long day. Leg 1takes you to the Block House above Rhodes Mem.
Early Days
I ended up running with Tim... Micheal was out front with Nic and Edson chasing, they had 3 guys not far off and the about a minute back it was my group of positions 7-10... 10th place didn't stay with us long and on the last climb to the check point William pulled ahead.

62:56 12km run with 600m climb and that was the easy leg...

Constantia Nek here we come... I lead Tim at a comfortable pace and be all means it was easy, this is our home ground! We caught one or 2 people, but they were running one of the relays and it wasn't till Kirstenbosch and the Aloes that we made up ground on 7th... we only took him on Rooikat.

I was still taking it easy without racing, walking the steep bits and not letting fly on the downs (PS when racing races that take over 5 hours that's the way you race!)
Gorilla taking a dump (I scared the shit out of him!)
I could see some of the front guys ahead and it didn't look like we were going to catch them any time soon... That said I had already though about that I wanted to catch a couple on leg 3...

Leg 2 was over 11km 71:58 only 420m clim, but lots of single track. one leg to go but still half the race. Dawn was there to cheer me on...

In years gone by I had half my kit out ready for a kit check, but I wasn't rushing, and I waited for Tim who was starting to take strain.

Down from the nek we ran together, but Tim wasn't up for the next bit, I wished him well and walked away up the steep hill to the fence. I was alone and while I didn't want to I started to hunt! 

I saw someone ahead at the top of the forest and while I was carefull not to run I was closing the gap with a bit of power walking! On the single track now a contor to Llandadno corner. i ran relaxed and passed to guys, in fact I was so relaxed I kicked a stone and took a tumble, not once, not twice, but 3 times... Tim had made up ground while I was playing in it and was right with me as we started the climb...

Hout Bay in the background
It was fun out there and still a long way to go, I climbed well and closed the gap on a couple of the guys, Edson wasn't having fun... and there on the last climb I saw Nic, he was in 2nd place and only 2 min ahead.

The top is easy and the running is easy... OK that's not true! it's anything but flat and easy, it bumps along over the 12 Apostles on a tiny rocky single track... Run a bit walk over this 'bump' hop down these rocks climb down this cliff face don't get blown off the mountain.
I picked up 3rd place but didn't drop him and the 2 of us stayed together till Kasteels.

I surprised myself and went down Kasteels nicely, and will 4 hours on the legs I must be getting fit! I hadn't closed the gap of Nic in 2nd, but it was flat and easy to the end from here and I was feeling good.

The pipe track would take me to Kloof nek and the last little bit to the finish... Wait... after 2km of hobbling along the rocky path my adductors started to cramp!!!

NO NO NO, ok it wasn't to bad I was jogging again, but there a little steep downhill and they didn't like it I had to walk... walking isn't good for your time if you are racing (and I was now racing). I also walked jogged up the other side and There was Dawn and the puppies to cheer me on. Bernie was out on a training run and joined me for a bit as I waved to Dawn... I looked back and 2 guys were running down the section I had just walked, No wait one of the guys was a girl!

Kerry-Ann passed for the 2nd race in a row, she's running really well! Neil, whom I had been running with on the top had now tucked in behind her and took back 3rd!

I was still moving, but slowly and the finish was not far off...
leg 3 was long and hard 20.7km 2h44 with 1140m climb

Now it's time to taper and hope the legs are ready for 55+km (3500m climb) at Marloth in a couple of weeks time.

Monday, August 24, 2015


A couple of weeks ago my Contego trail running team mate Eddie let me know their (Contego's) Mountain Biking team wanted a race... a sort of who's best race!  A real head to head none of this they do one thing we do another. .. This was going to be 5km trail run followed by a 10km mountain bike ride!  Yes I was going to have to get on a bike and ride! And the mnt bikers had to run... The race would double as a PR event for Contego to show the other sponsors (New Balance, Swift, First Ascent, hope I'm not missing anybody important) and VIP's what we get up too... (Contego is an Asset Management company with a passion for the great outdoors!)
Being introduced

5km isn't far...Well for someone with as many marathons as me it isn't far...10km on the bike is easy 10km on a mountain bike easy,  but I do have a fear of dying! There is no chance of a kamikaze descent from me... the bikers Adriaan and Luke were licking their lips! With the introductions out the way the 4 of us lined up with sponsors and media looking on...On your marks get set Contego...I took the lead...
Away we go

Eddie let me go before passing Adriaan and Luke and setting chase.  It's not easy running from the front, but it's fun. I worked that first hill and opened a gap on Eddie. I didn't see the mnt bikers till I was weaving down the single track Luke wasn't enjoying himself rather give him a 5 day stage race with no running. .. I took the lap split 10:13 before looking back to the others: Eddie about 15sec and Adriaan and Luke, running together were about 2 min back (I would need more time if I was to stay ahead). Lap 2 wasn't easy as the day was warm and dry if I was feeling the burn so were the others!
I had settled into a nice rhythm round the vineyards at the top. At the top was a short mnt bike loop it was fun running over the bumps and on the banked slopes.  Just the down hill and I was ready for the bike. Lap 2 was slower 11:06.
Heading for the bike

Swift had very kindly set me (and Eddie) up with one of their state of the art bikes but would that be enough?  Eddie was now about 40 sec back and the boys... maybe 5min but these boys aren't runners they are top mnt bikers so the race was on... The grass was heavy as I headed out and I could feel the pressure from behind as I slowed to turn onto the gravel road... I like to think I wasn't losing much time on the straight or the climb. But the climb had bumps and as I slowed to get over those I knew that 5min was coming down. Again I slowed for a corner why why why... last climb and down. I don't know if I peddled at all on the way down. It was a case of hold your line Coach slow that corner looks tight. Yes we've done it bit of grass and around the Manor House down the stairs lap 1 9:20.

Eddie was with me now and Adriaan and Luke had pulled back 90sec and didn't look like slowing! I passed Eddie again as hammering the hill was my only chance to stay ahead.  Eddie's done a bit more biking than me so told me to go he would keep an eye on the others. At the top on the little loop a dad and his boys were "playing" Son keep to the right and let then pass. .. I never caught him (oh he was about 6!)
Do I look the part?

I was better on the single track down (probably not faster). Eddie passed on the grass and took the stairs first 2 down 8:49! Adriaan was hunting and Luke was feeling a pain he knew cycling as a pair they closed the gap to just over 2 min. It was time for Eddie and I to work as a team and lap 3 was even faster 8:33. We still had over a minutes lead.With every lap the sponsors, media and other supporters were cheering and willing us on as we took the stairs and passed through the start finish area. That said I bet they were rooting just as hard for team Mountain Bikers!  Adriaan and Eddie had plan a great route and it was going to come down to the wire... again I worked the hill hard getting ahead of Eddie.  But the guys were showing just who should really be on the bike. With passing near impossible on the single track I hit the grass first...But hitting the grass first wasn't enough... Team Mountain Bike was unstoppable now as they flew past Team Trail Running. Eddie tried to spoil their party but couldn't while I was left in 4th...
I didn't look like that coming down there...

The racing was over but the day wasn't... There were snacks to eat and Darling craft beer to drink and wine, yes Meerendal is a wine farm! Thank you Adriaan, Eddie and JC (Contego) for putting this together you did a great job I enjoyed showing the Sponsors what we do...

Friday, August 7, 2015


I didn't start like I do in most races,  I let the rabbits go as we left the harbour.  After the mad dash across the tar and out the gate the madness settles down with a short cut up a sand dune! I was happy walking in the middle of the field (ok I was still near the front).
On the start line
Back on the road and up to the entrance of the Karbonkelberg. I don't know how it happened but I climbed into 2nd place behind Jarryd who was only running leg one. I didn't chase him but just ran at my own pace slowly opening a gap on the chasing field. I clipped my card at the top and headed down with the rest of the field still headed up. I don’t do downs like I did 20 years ago, I now have a fair of killing myself. Jarryd was gone and while I hoped the rest of the field would never catch me I know that was only a dream. Once over southern peak it started Simon was first then Andrew, AJ, Dom and Lloyd followed (oh to be young again).

Then, Martin, Jan and another Simon caught me, but the worst of it was over and I stayed with them till the dunes before dropping them as we climbed through Sol’s place.

I was feeling relaxed and in a good place as I crossed Suikerbossie and climb to check point one. 
End of leg one
While I wasn’t really racing anyone but the clock it was good to be at the front of the field. I left the check point and rounded the restaurant only to see the guys up ahead on me tackling the first climb on leg 2. I was careful not to set chase and took it easy hoping that my strength would close the gap… it did, but the relay guy I was now running/walking with was pushing hard with only one leg to run, he left me on the first flat bit. With the really climb ahead of us I closed and passed him. Dom was next, but we were now at the top of the first section and he could keep with me on the climb (scramble). I let him pass as we rounded the corner. I find you run best if you can run at your pass so I let him go… I caught up again at the waterfall and climbed past him and then caught Simon and was on my own as I reached the top.

With 1h45 of running under the belt we still had a long way to go and I wasn’t hanging around. There was no sign of Andrew or AJ on the top they must have been flying. I wasn’t killing myself as was careful not to fly up the little climbs on the Back Table. Simon and Dom were catching me again and then after one of the bigger climb I had to step aside and let them pass… Back on the trail I set chase not wanting to lose sight of them, but they were gone! I hoped they had taken a wrong turn… but while I slowed they turned up the pace. The 2nd Simon also caught me and to two of us ran together for a bit then I slowed again as he took off! I didn’t know what was happening to me, but I now have an idea:

Every time I was overtaken and every time I overtook somebody they put a brick in my pack!

Boy Oh Boy I was happy to see the turn to the dams and while I wasn’t running fast on the flat road it was nice to see that I had a little rhythm left and I could run… but as I headed to Nursery I could hear ‘them’ all laughing at my carrying that heavy pack! I hadn’t been on Smuts track for long when I felt I was been followed. A Girl! This would be a first for my trail running career… I tried to fight her off, but… she was done, and while I hoped I could hit the road and catch her That didn’t happen, she was gone! Lucky for me she was only running leg 2 for a relay team so no worries! 
Last stairs before the Nek
Dawn was at the Nek with my children and all she could say was: why are you so slow! I checked in and headed back up the way I had come. I stopped running to walk with Dawn for a bit and tell her that I was struggling and this last leg was going to be hard work. Then the next team lady caught me, so I left my wife I set off after this young lady, and the 2 of us went well together with her running strong on the hill and me hanging on for dear life, but the km’s were ticking by… Downhill I was fine and pushed the pace till the Turn onto Rooikat. She kept jogging looking back at me to check she was going the correct way while I walked, and walked till I reached the stairs. One at a time I pulled myself up them, Martin caught and passed me also not having a good day. I had tried eating more, I had tried drinking more, next was a quick shower in one of the waterfalls, it felt good, and I want to run again, that only lasted for a few seconds!

Selfie at the one of the waterfalls

Then it happened…

Kerry-Ann caught me on the last climb of Rooikat, so after letting her pass I tried to keep up, but stairs and downhill when your eyes are floating in lactic acid… I wasn’t very fast and she, like a fairy, danced off into the distance! I needed flat road and road downhill and when they came I ran. It took for what seemed like an eternity but I was running down to the Nek again. I checked in, grabbed a few glugs of beer from Mike who was supporting (that went down a treat). And headed off to the finish, the finish, the finish. It was right there, but I had a little loop on Vlakkenberg to do!

Oh Dear, it was hard, it was like hiking with a 20-30kg pack on, so you would take a step or 2 and then wait for your strength to return, this was and Everest summit attempt and I was losing. While I had only lost 5-8min off the time I was hoping for on leg 2 I was 20+ minutes down on leg 3 so that turn down was great and hay I could run, it was downhill.
running the downhills
4h55:51 and 38km with 2500m climb I had finished 8th (7th male and first old man)

Looking tired

Hard day at the office!