With no time to play with my phone we set off from a little Coffee Shop deep in the Knysna Forest. It didn't take long for the previous days winners to take the lead, 'Batman & Robin'son' set off after them and with only 7 seconds in it for 2nd place we didn't want them to get out of sight...
Now yes we started on a short up hill followed by a down hill, I'm going to say the first 4km were flat with maybe a gentle climb (in 2km) all still on forestry roads!!! Then all hell broke loose... We the road turned and we headed down... 5km in 17:50 down!!! around each turn I hoped it would end and it never did. Don't get me wrong down hills are great, but after 2h32 racing the day before, your legs can feel those downs!!!
The front boys were gone, but Eddie kept 2nd place in his sights, I let him set the pace (ok I was struggling to keep up) knowing that today's 30km would be fast for a trail run and I had finished Day 1 the stronger of the 2 of us. By this stage we were deep in the forest and we turned of the gravel roads and hit the single tracks. At 13km we popped out of the deep forest onto a forestry road and headed down to the only water table of the day just in time to see Will taking his last sip and heading off. The race was still on. Eddie throw water on his legs and face, while I knocked back some energy drink and we were off, still at break-neck speed.
100m down a forest path (jungle track) we looked left, right and went straight, no wait that's wrong... there's the marker left turn... The boys were gone, we were on our own lost in the forest, OK we weren't lost, the markings were showing us the way, but that 10 sec detour had lost it for us.
The next section of forest was amazing as we climbed 145m in the next km, I had been leading and then at the top I let Eddie take over for the down section, as first it was steep and slippery as the path was covered in moss covered roots, but as it got less tricky under foot, Eddie put the foot down. This was magic running as we weaved through the forest, and then there out of no-where I saw the boys, 1, 2, 3, 4 of them, had we really caught them all up, we were back in the game and it was going to be fun...
The 6 of us ran together for a km or 2 then:
|If you look very carefully you can see some-one in the distance.|
30km of hard running in the forest was proving to be a long way, and after another short stint on a gravel road we past a couple of spectators who called the gap less than 2min... we weren't out of it for the day. Hearing news like that lifts the spirits and we upped the game again. I then whacked my toe big time climbing out of a river, and took to running through the next couple of rivers to ice the bruised toe!!! I was now setting the pace with Eddie a few meters back as we climbed the last hill only 3km... It was going well and I even caught a glimpse of one of the teams up the valley.
Now not all the running was plain sailing, we were jumping over logs, trees, rocks and who knows what else, then came the ducking up... well after jumping over and ducking under a fallen tree I straightened up into the next branch...
MAN that was almost the end of my race, but I jogged on (Eddie also hit that branch) but a km later I had to start walking with Eddie going ahead counting down the km... Lucky the leg was almost over and we finally left the single track, walk jog, walk jog... a short hill up and then down to the finish.
Another 3rd, Batman & Robin'son had won the 29.5km leg in 2h22 and our time was 2h26, only 4min off the pace with 2nd place home in 2h23:41.
One leg to go!!!