Friday, May 25, 2012

SO FAR AND NO FURTHER... the story of HMC

This story starts 4 weeks ago when I raced 10.3km to the mast at the top of the Constantiaberg. With this race only 10.3km and no down hill I recovered well and the next week I was up the Garden Route for a 3 day trail, day1 - 25km, day2 - 30km, day3 - 16km. This was all hard running but it didn't slow me down and the next week I was racing again...

This time above Stellenbosch in the Jonkershoek Mountain Challenge, 30km.

View, picture taken by a friend while running.

I ran a good race letting my team mate Bernard go and running for 2nd (1st 40+) I didn't have the legs to race Bernard up front, but nether did the other guys. On the day I climbed well and never pushed myself saving the legs for the last 10km of easy running. For the middle 10km of the race 3 guys sat behind me as I set the pace.
On the top, note the 3 guys following me!

I waited for the last 10 and made my move... It was great I had the legs to run hard for 3hours and they didn't I had played the game and won...

With all that trail I decided that a half the next weekend would be a good idea, so I drove put to Brackenfall for their Half... Now for some reason (will write about it some day) I don't take halfs easy, I am always racing the clock, and the 40+ guys... 78:47 was good enough for 29th place 3rd 40+ and a time I was happy with, NO it was not easy I work most of the way running alone in the morning mist with the guys ahead only figures in the mist!!!

So Sunday (20 May) found me standing on the start line of another race...

from their web sight
Ahead of us lay that mountain:

It did get lighter...
We ran up the right hand side over the top and down the left hand side before heading back, 15km with 930m climb, my type of race... last year i had run well winning in a record time of about 85min...

From the start 4 guys shot off and I let them go. I knew Bernard and Baily would be setting the pace, but didn't know the other 2 guys. I thought while the running was easy (as if running up the side of a mountain is easy) they will get away, but I should real them in on the really climb, the single track zig-zagging up and over the mountain. One of the guys popped and I ran him down, but there were still 3 ahead and one on my tail. I saw the leaders on the single track and took a split:75 sec, I was in the game...

Now for years I have been called a 'Mountain Goat', and today I lived up to that name... I run like an Old Goat towing a caravan with two flat tires... I was working hard and getting no-where! With my head down and walking the big steps I was powering on, but as hard as I worked I wasn't making any ground on the front guys, and in fact I was loosing ground and was been caught from behind.

Then as we climbed over a ridge I turned to the right to early and found myself looking down a cliff!!! Those 20sec lost me 4th (and 1st vet) I was right behind him, but going no-where... The last section was bolder hopping up to the top. I took my split at 51min (4 min slower than last year). I didn't push the down and 3km from the end  we joined the 10km race as they were heading out...

They turned to head up and I went with them just jogging along.... Then, after a couple minutes I thought something was wrong!!! I headed back and found the right route (a marshall was sleeping) I was another 3:30 down another 2 positions...

I finished in 1h37:59 about 13min of my record of last year.

I think I'm over raced and this weekend I won't be racing.

Friday, May 18, 2012


After 2 hard days of racing my legs (quads) were shattered, and to help with recovery I headed for the beach for a little swim:
the water was great
But would it help?

Day 3

Another early morning saw us drive down to George and head for the coast, I know this leg was call the beach run, but this was no beach run, it was a coastal run...

ready to go
So where did we go...

very steep down hill
This was the first and only paved / tarred stretch we were to run on the whole weekend and it didn't last long, a couple of 100m then a sharp right hand turn into bush!!! something like the bush on the side of that path... a few pretenders took off down the hill, my toe was still sore from the day before and my legs, well I don't know who I get down that first hill, in fact I wasn't the only one struggling half the field was...

We weaved through the bush and slowly the 3 top teams pushed to the front and hit the farm road together...
Eddie and I were hoping the boys from 'Gauteng trail Speed Stars' would fall to pieces after 2 hard days of running, I knew the other 2 would held it together. (I've run with Will for years and Nic is strong and training for Comrades). But again they slowly pulled ahead and so did 'Batman & Robin'son', leaving us in 3rd.
The running was easy and again Eddie set the pace as we flew through some estate or something, then... Into the bush and jungle!!! There's a marking, down into the dark forest, and there's a marking (the route was marked with neon orange ribbon) but not path!!!!

Do we go up, do we go down, do we go right... Forest / Jungle everywhere and not a path in sight!!! the 4th and 5th teams caught us Nicholas finally said this way guys on off we went 3 teams together (1min lost) 300m further on Nicholas lost to path (OK there wasn't a path to loose!) I then found it and took the lead (another 20-30sec lost). It was exciting but our race for 2nd (or 1st) was left in the forest!!! we were now in a race for 3rd... Slowly I the pace I was setting for the climb though the coast forest was getting to the other teams, Eddie was still with me and we pushed on out of the forest and through a meadow. The cows where far off, but you had to watch your footing!!! Wait for it to enter and exit this meadow we had to climb through a barbed wire fence... That was a laugh a minute as I couldn't bend anymore and was getting hooked up and the longer I stayed bend the more lightly I was going to cramp!!!

We made it through and headed off to the 'cliffs', and a single track through the 'fynbos' at the top started to take us back to the finish. Yes all road lead to Rome, but this was no road and Rome (the finish) had to be reached by foot... I was in the lead and we turn down, yes down... not left or right (I did say we were on a cliff Mr Garmin called it 100m altitude). I was running to fast and couldn't make the turn running into the bush!!! Eddie had time to slow as we made the last turn to the BEACH and wait for it 'Batman & Robin'son' were on the beach just 15 sec ahead of us, The race was on, was there enough of the race left to catch and pass them...

Down the last of the rocks and onto the beach, only one foot, back on the rocks, over a couple of boulders and up. They were gone, but maybe we could catch them on the climb. This was a power walk climb and I was counting down the altitude, or should that read counting up... anyway 100m is what we wanted. Why was there a 'T' junction at the top with no marker? we went left... met a house and turned back (another 60sec wasted).

It wasn't far from the finish across another field through a fence, a short loop through 1 last forest, one last scare, Eddie rolled his ankle... it was OK.

We saw Dawn and that could only mean one thing, the race was almost over and the ladies were there to greet us.
3rd team
It was a great run and we had raced hard and taken 3rd... maybe next year we'll be back to climb higher up the podium...

Tuesday, May 15, 2012


Day 2

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.
we started to climb and we lost a bit of ground and Eddie started to hurt... Don't worry my quads were shattered from all the down hill racing and I was pleased to just sit behind Eddie. We were working well as a team, Eddie would fly down the hills and I would let the gap open a bit as I could close it on the hills.

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!!!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012


3 Days, 3 Trails, 3 Terrains, 1 Partner... Eddie and I signed up as " Team Contego" to take on the 'Berg', 'Bush' and 'Beach' of Sedgefield in the inaugural SOUTHERN CROSS TRAIL RACE.


The 'Berg' leg saw us driving out to the Nursery in Karatara just outside Sedgefield. The race started slow and 3 teams moved to the front; Gauteng trail Speed Stars, Batman & Robin'son and us.

Taken on the run, 1 guy from each team.
Taken over my head...
This was early in the race as we climbed the 5km of gravel road from the start. The boys from 'Gauteng trail Speed Stars' took the lead, while we changed places with 'Batman &; Robin'son', till with a right turn we were on the Mountain climbing up an old jeep track.The 'Gauteng trail Speed Stars' had opened a gap and Team Contego (that's us) had about 20m on the next team. I let Eddie set the pace as we climbed for a km (180m!!!). By this time the jeep track was a single track...

Eddie setting the pace.
I took over the lead as the trail flattened:

The top
and set the pace till we reached the 'hut'. OK I stopped to take this picture leaving Eddie to set the pace for the next stretch.

Hiking trail hut.
The trail was still single track and started on a contour around the mountain... That didn't last long because the contour path was closed, so with a right hand turn we headed down the mountain. Eddie was taking no prisoners, it was now me who was hanging on. I did look at Mr. Garmin who told me 3:25/km but really we weren't going that fast as our km splits for those km were 3:58 and 4:00. That 2km of down hill hammered my quads and the race was far from over...

At the bottom we crossed a river and yes you guest it up the other side... again I took out my phone/camera and grabbed a short:

The view from were we had come.
That is sort of the route we had run, and that circle is the hut we ran past... Now I was able to take a split of the guys chasing us (2 teams) and it was a little over 2 minutes, so on we pushed climbing for 2km (270m!!!). From the top we followed one of those famous contours... around the mountain, in and out of the gorges. Contour!!!! no way, we climb and dropped like a yo-yo, and the single track was amazing... no not great for running fast on, but amazing! Moss, mud and rocks, all covered in ferns!!! (and half the path is washed away!)

This was some of the best trails I ever run on, but Eddie was not enjoying the climbs and the last one seemed to go on forever. The front team was long gone, and our 2minute lead was down to 35sec...

The climbing stopped and we turned down what I can only describe as a fire break!!! We dropped 158m in that km and hit the gravel road to the days finish. 4km to go we were still in 2nd place with 35sec in the bag. It was going to be a big ask to hold them off, but we weren't going down without a fight...
Down hill 3:50, the hill got steeper 3:34, then half way through the next km the road flattened an Eddie didn't have gravity helping, we lost momentum... (and the gap closed) but we turn a corner and down again km split 3:56! 1.5km to go and no more down hill, I still had legs, but Eddie was running on the spot!!!! Batman &; Robin'son' caught us and the next team wasn't far behind... I tried pushing Eddie and that got him moving forward and we (all 3 teams) were running in slow motion up the last hill to the finish the gaps stayed we had lost our 2nd with 500m to go, and didn't want to fall off the podium.

After 25.6km 1350m climb and over 2h30 of running only 14 sec separated teams 2, 3 and 4, while 1st was 10min ahead.

Let's post this and start on Saturday's run, day 2...