With everything already planned for the weekend I needed a new partner... Bring in Bernard, OK he's no Eddie, but he's Tall, Black and African... and boy can he run!!!!
Now I want to say: Oh $hit, I had better get training! So after a couple of training runs I found myself on the start line.
|That is us on the start line|
With a simple count down Derick took the lead with Bernard and myself on his tail. His partner, Noel, was just behind us with the other +_ 300 following close on our heels. With this being the 'Mountain' leg we soon started climbing, and with that we took the lead.
the forest road took us higher and higher, till at about 7 km we turned left onto the trail and the start of the first real climb... Derick and Noel were nowhere to be seen, but the Jo'Burg Boys were only 20-30 sec back. Bernard powered up the hill, while I had to do a lot of walking. (yes even the front guys walk!)
If we wanted to keep out lead I would have to come to the party as the lead looked like it was now under 20 sec Bernard let me take the lead as the trail flattened and I took off to check point one. It was rocky narrow and flattish and I was floating over the rocks...
At the bottom we lost a few seconds at the river crossing, but the last 3.5 km had given us a bit of a lead. I don't remember the climb out of the valley being that long, it just went on forever! Finally the contour at the top, now as much as I love racing along contours, this was going to be something else... After last nights rain (yes a good 100 mm fell!!!) It was muddy and as slippery as an ice-rink!!! Again the 1010v2's were amazing as they always found grip. (there were a lot of muddy guys at the finish later in the day)
After a couple more river crossings and the 'undulations' on the so called contour path on the side of the mountain, it was time to head down to the forest roads and the finish. I tried to look back a couple of times, but this is not a good thing to do while racing along a single track on the side of the mountain!!! So we didn't know what sort of lead we had.
|Off the Mountain|
SOX DAY 2 (forest)
I spent the rest of Day 1 in my 'Make my legs look Sexy' tights, drinking 'Lifegain' protein shakes. Come 08H00 I was ready for the forest, Knysna Forest...
I don't know why Hano (the race organizer) has us walk 200 m down hill to the start only to run up past a lovely Tea House (I forget the name) which would be our finish some 29.2 km later!
|The start of day 2|
Suddenly, with a left turn we left the 'road' and started the real climb. I hoped the Jo'Burg Boys would fall off the pace, what pace, I was walking... Mean while, my secret plan had worked, as we reached the day's 'King of the Mountain' first!!!
With the climbing over it was time to head down... OH Boy... I don't have splits for you, but 'Ms 310', (my Garmin) kept telling me I was speeding. This was a 30 km trail race and I was running at 3:05 - 3:15 / km I can't even do 1 km reps at that pace!!!
We dropped about 300 m in the +_ 4.5 km of downhill that followed, and in this time the Jo'Burg Boys opened a 30 sec gap, but turning off the forest roads was going to level the fields again... or was it?
Oh dear Mr Cramp didn't like me running so I had to walk, run, walk, run.... Then it happened Derrick and Noel breezed past as if on a Saturday training run for the next km of the climb, it was damage control time. At last we were up and I could run again 2 km down to the finish.
2h42:27 only 3 mins behind the Joburg boys and yes Derrick and Noel had taken the win another minute ahead. 29.2 km with 1260 m climb it had been another hard day on the trails.
One day left.....
DAY 3 Beach
Time to head to the beach for the last leg of the adventure with 20 km ahead of us would our 8 min lead be enough? After listening to the race briefing we planned our tactics to keep our lead. As to plan I took the lead from the start, I wanted to control the pace on the first single track, Bernard, the Joburg boys, Derrick and Noel all following.
|Taking the lead|
|Controlling the down hill|
|The railway line over the river!!!|
Leaving the vlei we crossed the road and disappeared into the bush....real single track and wait for it.....the climb of the day. Knowing this would take up to 10 min of power walking I hit it hard with Bernard behind. As we zig-zagged up Bernard past and pushed hard, he wanted to see if they were in sight. He didn't get that far ahead when he started to wave at me and point up front..... He had caught a glimpse of them, I now started to run the straights and with a 10 sec gap at the top Bernard let me take up the chase on the downhill. I hear the views from up there were amazing, but while running hard on the twisty single tracks I didn't have time to look, I was in hunt mode....This was downhill slalom and I set off weaving through the bush taking corners at almost 45%. We were back in the game, I could see them, and then at the bottom I took a gap, jumping over a couple of rocks and threw a tree. I was back in the lead, I could now control the race till the river crossing.....
This wasn't like any other of the river crossings in this race, the river was wide, and needed to be swum... or there was a boat! OK it was more of a raft, and getting there together was important to save time... Jeff's pictures tell the story:
|Still chasing me...|
|OK the legs are tired|
The win on day 1 had taken the race away from the other teams and with only a 3rd and 2nd on the other days we still won by over 7 min in the end...
Thank you for reading, the story in mine, but the pictures come from Facebook, Hano put together a great team of guys to capture all the magic moments, and I have borrowed a couple to illustrate parts of this amazing race, hope to see you all there next year...
One last thing, CONTEGO put faith in us and got us to the start-line, thank you, They also sent a mixed team, and they have a story of their own...