Friday, March 28, 2014

AFRICAN X 2014

I am one of the lucky trail runners here in Cape Town that have a sponsor, Thank you Contego. Now with 2 teams already entered, I wasn't razing my hand and shouting for a 3rd team. I had run last year and we, Ian and I had had great fun so I didn't mind not lining up...

 Then Chad called me, and all that changed, I had a new partner and he wanted to take on the big boys! Chad was a brilliant tri-athlete back when I was training hard and coming no-where on the Cape Town Road Running circuit. Now, 20 years on we looked like a good team.
 
Ready to Go
We packed the car and headed out on the Thursday afternoon, destination Houw Hoek Inn to sign in and meet my partner. After dinner and race briefing I followed Chad home (he lives in the area and we, Dawn and I, were going to be staying with him for the weekend) to meet his wife, his son, his daughter, 4 dogs, 2 cats, 7 chickens, 4 horses, fish, and the snake that was sharing a room with us... OH boy it was going to be an interesting weekend.

Day 1:

32.8km with 840m climb our time 2h29:05

As to plan I took the lead... more to ensure we were in the mix and ahead of the pretenders. With the route starting the same way as last year I didn't want to be at the back of the pack 500m in when we hit the first single track. Plan one had worked well and while it took a couple of km to settle, the top 3 teams had moved to the front with the 3 vets teams (40+) and a 4th men's team hanging on. The pace up front was hard and while this is a trail race, the footing was easy and the going was fast. We were all in it through the first water table at about 10km 41:00.

No slowing these boys

Then, while the pace didn't slow we hit the mountain bike single tracks and we start a little climb.... the top teams pulled away leaving us to fight for 4th overall. It's funny what one starts to think 11km into a 3 day race!!! I could see that the other 2 vet teams were taking a little strain, and I thought, yes we can. Chad was looking strong and I let him set the pace, it was no problem for me.

3 days and almost 90km is a long way and what training should one be doing? that is a post for another day. We now had a gap on the 2nd vets team, by my call about 60-80sec, and in front was the 4th place men's team... At the last water table I grabbed a drink and Chad also drank and then off we went, it was flat, but our pace had slowed, Chad had run out of steam. I could feel Nic and Tsungai catching. Then after leading the 40s for almost 20km they past us. I was pleased Chad could go with them, because, the truth be told I might have broken it I had needed to push the pace.

One hill to go, and the boys were gone, Chad was walking now and looking for energy in his pack... I looked back for the next team, but we were safe and the hill was over! Yes energy was there and off we went down to the finish, 3:30 behind Nic and Tsungai, while the young guns had finished in 2h16:14 miles ahead...

Day 2:

35.5km with 1045m climb our time 3h09:29

To run our own race, sounds easy, but I knew we would be stronger than the other vet teams on the opening hill. So while the young guns set off in a fight of their own the old men settled down to a private war... The plan was good and on the climb we pulled away and climbed up the old wagon trail ahead of the 'old' pack of chaser... Now as we ran through the forests of Grabow to the Country Club the plan wasn't to be caught to early and not to let 'then' if they did catch us pull to far ahead. The plan was going well, we took turns in setting the pace and not for one moment did I think we were running slowly (we weren't) but then the team of Derick and Noel caught us not passing, but letting us take the pace... I could feel Nic and Tsungai behind us. Maybe our pace had dropped and it didn't take long for them to catch and then pass us.

Chad went with them and as much as I wanted I was flat and stuck in 2nd gear... Chad slowed, and while I talk a good game about the hills are coming in the last 10km and they should be toast by then and that is where we make our move...

But the writing was on the wall, as we ran though the water point I stopped for water and a banana!!!! I was up for trying anything... Over the dam wall I took a split 90sec (that was the last I saw of them!) The race was still ours, we were going to run / climb them down. But then we hit the hills and I had nothing, it's one thing to be flat in a race and have to walk to the end, but in a team event... I had to put on the gloves and start fighting. Moving forward was what was important, it was down to damage control and hoping that they had also died. Chad was as strong as Mother Russia, and took my pack to lighten my load. finally we left the mountain and while the down hills were OK the flats seamed ever so long. OK moving at that pace were took ever so long!!!

The last 2km were flattish and the legs cramped (well wanted too) so I slowed and walked a couple of steps, grabbed a drink from my pack (still on Chad) and kept moving...

He ain't heavy he's my brother (taking a drink)
Getting up to speed so we wouldn't get caught...
The finish didn't come soon enough and with 500m to go we were passed by the next vets team, and then on the little single track down to the finish the first mixed team caught us... Now as much as I would have liked to stepped aside and let them pass I couldn't, so I said: I will cramp up it a leave the path please find a way round... They did, she was like a little rock rabbit and bounced passed...

On the finish line I started downing drinks one, two, three, four, then I sat down with 2 more before heading for the grass...

Left it all on the trail to keep the team in the race!
I spend the rest of the day recovering by drinking red wine and putting my feet up... With the bottle finished it was time for bed...

Day 3:

21.1km with 591m climb our time 1h41:14

We were still in 2nd place vets, but 13min behind, so without disaster we couldn't win, but a win on the day would be nice, so we talked and planned our attack!!!

This was a stage more suited for us, 10 km downhills then 10km up hill mostly single track, not easy mountain bike trail, but hiking trail... The first 10km was fast and while the leader were under 34min we passed 10km in 38:06...

In blue today and flying

Nic and Tsungia were 30sec ahead, but then we left the farm roads and headed home, up the trail...

I had legs and took the pace with Chad close behind. We passed and dropped the 4th place open team and caught Nic... Tsungia, and started to open a gap, it was great to be running again after yesterday. It was a good day out and both of us were still running at the end...

1st old men on day 3!
In the middle at last..
We had taken 3 min out of the leading vets team, but that just cleared day 1's loss, we were still 10 min back from the time we (me) had lost on day 2...

It was a good race and I would run again with Chad, but next time I might even try and get into shape...

Thank you Chad and Xpedient for getting me to the start line, and thank you Contego for letting team up with Chad.

2 comments:

  1. That sounds so incredibly tough. And to back up after you have a hard run - I'm impressed.

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  2. What a great recap! Sounds like an amazing experience. Congrats on the strong finish and being 'in the middle!' ��

    ReplyDelete