Like most of my plans I tend to only stick to them rather loosely and when we were set off, and I took the lead! In my defence the pace was slow and it's one way to control the race, I kept an eye on Ms Garmin and she told me I could, should be able to, run that pace for an easy marathon (I mean flat), so I stayed in front...
I stayed in front with two youngsters till we started climbing (about 2km in) Then Bernie joined us and one of the 'kids' dropped off. By 5km I had backed off a bit and the other 2 had opened up about 20m on me with Nic about 20m behind me and Chad on his tail. It was early in the race and I was still relaxed and running easy. The view down the valley was amazing with a low laying mist covering the sleepy town of Stellenbosch!
6.5km down and the real work starts, as we turned off the gravel road onto a single track up the mountain! I watched Nic and Chad chasing up the switchbacks, they were moving faster than me, but not fast enough to catch before it flattened out. Out front Bernie was flying and the fast pace of the kid had slowed. With the single track now following the contour it was fast running and I started to close on the kid, the running was easy as with the fire of a couple of months ago the path was clear.
But this is a mountain run and at 9km we started climbing again... I slowed and Nic caught me and the kid whom we had been gaining on on the contour, not wanting to be dropped he push up the climb with Nic leaving me 20sec behind. With the climb and the tricky bit at the top out the way we hit the next contour. It was also clear of bush so I closed in on the kid and passed him. Saying that, Chad did the same to me!
While passing me I told him Nic had a 40sec lead on us, and he was on the main climb of the day! Chad started the climb, but he hadn't dropped me and I 'pushed' pass, I was still feel ok and while most of the climb is runnable, after an hour of racing and with 26km still to go, it's more about power walking...
|Picture taken from :Jaco Roux|
I dropped Chad and over the next 2km (490m climb!!!) I climbed up to Nic... I needed the hill to be longer, because with him only a couple of meters ahead we hit the top... He took off and I set off chasing. My chase was slow, Lucky for us the fire hadn't reached this section of the mountain... OK unlucky for me! I couldn't get going fighting the bush, or long grass! First Chad past me and while I was hoping I could get some of the down hill done before being caught again Julian wasn't waiting for that... Oh to be that young... he just hopped down without a worry in the world! There was no bouce in me, but this was the shortest of the 3 "scary descents".
|Can you see the down hill?|
So with only the last descent to go I didn't hang around but started down the face of the mountain!!! To give to a clue as to just how steep this descent is, we drop 100m in the first 500m then drop a further 150m in the next 500m! Andrew came past and put a minute into me before the bottom, I was down now and maybe, just maybe I could get running again...
It wasn't fast, but the gap to Andrew stayed at 60sec, so I was going alright, which was a good sign since I had wacked my knee on the way down... I hadn't fallen, just the edge of the path had disappeared under my foot and I had landed on my knee! I set my sights on Andrew but the gap stayed the same, but then the 24km guys (and girls) joined our route. New plan, aim at catching them one at a time... This was working well for a couple of km till I rolled my ankle! I kept moving and it warmed up and started working again. But I had slowed and was no longer catching the 24km guys.
|Check point 3|
He kindly stepped off the trail and let me pass, by then it was my turn as the guy from the 24km race had closed and was now the stronger runner. There ahead was the road down, I was sure I would catch him again... On dear, the legs had had enough and with 4km still to run how was I going to get to the finish...(SLOWLY!)
I made it to the single track down, now on a good day without, 4 hours of running in the legs, this would have been fun, even more so before the fire, but today I was running on wobbly legs and things were slow... I remember standing at one section: A steep downhill about 20m long and thinking there is no way I can get down there without killing myself! But I couldn't stand there forever so I started down with little steps then tensed up my whole body and went for it... That hurt, but I was down in one piece and then back on the road... just a short section before the DAM, and the dam wall!
To get down I started on the stairs, the first flight was OK, but the 2nd... Oh dear, my legs gave way, or I tripped over nothing, or I missed the step and down I went, like a sack of potatoes. Lucky not down the stairs but onto the bank on the side. I rolled over and sat there looking down. A Father and son looked up at me and contemplated walking up to see if I was ok! I moved, then froze... I thought I was going to cramp! I moved again, NO it is a false alarm.
I hobbled down the stairs and into the Dam wall just before Andrew and 4 others caught me... Lucky those stairs had railings so I was able to keep going, Then we popped out at the base of the wall and with 2km left it was time to stretch out and race for the finish... NO not me, the others took off leaving me plodding along with Andrew (who was also stretched today) But then, just after he had told me he wasn't up for a sprint finish my adductor spoke to me... Slow down! I listened. ..
4h07:56 I was finished, in more was then one! But with 39.1km and 2400m climb it wasn't really a bad effort I place about 8th and 3rd 40+
|Recovering with Eddie|