A month or so ago I saw this race advertised and the idea of running though the tunnel excited me...
Roll on to Saturday and I found myself on the start line chatting to Chantel about who our competition was... Not many trail races have big prises but the money on offer here had brought out the big guns.
It was going to be a fast race with only about 2 the 20ish km on 'real' trail. I started fast but that didn't help as the top guys still pulled away. 2 of them 40+ guys... I hadn't seen Nicholas and hoped his new baby had kept him up all night. .. But no such luck for me he soon caught up.
With 1km down we turned off the tar and headed up through the farms. Nic was never far ahead so I kept racing hoping he or one of the other two would crack and I could move into 3rd.
|Smile for the camera|
We were now under the bridge that takes the cars to their tunnel. While the cars had a gentle climb we didn't... I closed the gap to 10m but as we reached the top he pulled ahead and entered the tunnel 30sec ahead of me.
I turned my headlamp on, but after 100m the tunnel has emergency lights so I turned it off...
|in the tunnel|
It's not every day you get to run in a tunnel, let alone one about 4km long. .. With Nic 30sec ahead and the next runner 30sec behind I was very alone! It was quiet with only the sound of my feet. It was the longest 4km I've ever run... but there was light at the end of the tunnel!
The eyes adjusted and I headed to the water table looking for the right turn, but the race turned left and I was caught off guard! Left took us down to the river and it should have been fun to head down the steep bank, but I hit it away from the path and... the ground was loose and my foot gave way!
|If Chris had got there earlier he would have caught me in action!|
|I could have come off a lot worse!|
I hit the ground hard and slid the next 2-3meters down... With nothing broken I got up covered in sand and blood! Both knees and my right hand, but neither of those bothered me it was my hip that was sore.
I stopped in the river to wash my hands before heading on. I had to walk this and was overtaken by the leading lady (a top roadie) who had been chasing me.
I needed the flat of the tunnel to get back into my running. This was easier going than the first crossing... it must have been the oncoming headlights of the 1000+ field that were still heading out. Or it could have been the fact that you climb 35m going through from the Paarl side!
I closed the gap catching Bulewa and passing her I set about chasing Nic who was atill just out of reach. The tunnel is downhill on the way back so it was no surprise that I was through quicker and if I was counting right Nic was still only 30 sec head!
More trail a little steep single track to take us back down to the farms and the road to the finish.
I couldn't run this my hip wasn't working and Damian who has been running well took me on this section and sped off.
I tried to chase but couldn't run any faster. I watched as he caught Nic and the two of them raced to the end... Nic had lots of speed left in his legs to finish 8th and take 3th old man. With Damian between us I finished 10th and 4th old man.
|Stop the watch we're finished|
Garmin told me I had run for 83:43 which I had but the 15.9km was closer to 20.5km as we lost a lot of signal in the tunnel. ..