Thursday, December 4, 2014

2014 Muizenberg Mountain Run - 14km

If you’re feeling a little masochistic, and want to walk like an 80 year old drunk man on ice for week, then this is the run for you. No seriously – this run will break your legs – and I don’t mean the “good luck” idiom.
Well okay – if you do lots (and lots and lots) of steep mountain training, then maybe it won’t – but heck this run is a toughy. There are, however, some things you can do to minimize the torture. After running this event in 2012, this year I was armed with some experience and wisdom:
  • Wear comfortable shoes. The first time I run, I chose to run in my “minimalist” inov8s, which I naively wore because I thought I was going to finish in under 2 hours. This year I donned some Salomon Speedcross 3’s – a much more comfy ride on the calves.
  • Don’t wear new socks – you’re likely blister. The gradients are very steep – which means your feet are going to be doing a lot of shifting around in your shoes. The older, more experienced socks, the better.
  • Take it slow on the down hills. No, slower than that. If you haven’t done much mountain running (wine farm vineyards don’t count), then walk all the downs. This is especially true for the first big descent about 2kms into the race (you’ll have already ascended more than 400m by this point). If you blow your quads here, you’re reeeeaallly going to be sorry at km 10.5 when you have to descend those 400m again.
Warnings aside, the run is really worth the scenery.
From the parking lot – the ominous mountain looms
You walk about 1.5km to the start at the base of the trail on Boyes Drive
… and then it’s about 450m of climbing within about 1km

Once at the top, there is a brief respite of about 800m, before the first brutal descent
After the steep descent, the next climb starts immediately from about the 4km mark till about 10.5km.
… and the final leg breaker, before running the last 1.5km on the tarmac to the Toad in the Road
That’s 2 clockwise turkeys down – hopefully I can make it back next year to tackle the anti-clockwise route.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

2014 La Capra Goat run - 28km

If I had my wits about me I wouldn’t have entered this race, because it’s held on the same weekend as Gun Run – but with the pre-booking that trail running events require, I really wasn’t thinking that well ahead. Boy am I glad for that mistake. Taking a break from Gun Run to take part in this race was definitely the better choice (made knowingly or not).
The La Capra Goat Run (and in particular the 28km) offers a very unique setting amongst the rock formations in and around Paarl. Everything about the experience was top notch – particularly the organization.
Pictures are worth a thousand words, so here are some:
The first 8km or so is very up and down, so it’s wise to pace yourself. I was comfortably at the back of the pack for the first 5km, until I started passing some very tired looking legs.
Some of the sections are really steep – good places to “power hike” ie: walk
There are 1 or 2 water points along the way – but it’s best to assume none. Thankfully it wasn’t too hot.
After “The Wall” at roughly 8km, there’s about 10km of fairly easy undulating jeep track. Save your energy here – “The Beast” is coming!
Some of the unique scenery – HUGE protea bushes amongst rock outcroppings.
First glimpse of the “Paarl Rock”
up, up, up!!!
at the top

… then down, down, down (eina quads!!)
2km of flat before the last 3km which is steep downhill.
…. and thankfully there’s a tractor ride back to the car – legs are busted Smile

Friday, July 18, 2014

2014 @Salomon_SA Bastille Day Trail Run (25km)–Race Report

So having taken a break from Trail running during 2013 due to injury, I was really looking forward to one of my favorite races from 2012 – the Salomon Bastille Day Trail Run.

Back in 2012, I’d done the shorter 12km route – this year I decided to opt for the 25 (not being fit or brave enough to tackle the 35km or the new 50km routes).
First off – what I really enjoyed, was that the 25km route follows very little of the 12km I did 2 years ago, so it was mostly a whole new experience (some extra motivation for those who did the 15 this year to ”upgrade” next year). All the best bits like the (bone cold) river crossings were still there – but the rest was all new to me - probably also due to my very short memory.
I was rather happy to see that they’d implemented batch starts – which worked really well. I was very glad to be included in the “slow-folks” D group Smile.
Thankfully the weather was a great deal better than the last 2 years, so it wasn’t nearly as cold, or miserable as I had feared.

Before I head on to the good stuff, just a word of warning for those using GPS to get to the venue: It lead me down a long forgotten road, straight to a dam with locked gates etc. Don’t turn anywhere strange until you pass through Franschhoek – after which you will see very well marked arrows pointing the way out again to the venues.

On to the good stuff:

The view from the Start/Finish venue is quite spectacular

The ever colourful Trevor sent us on our way with the obligatory warnings and insults:

Soon we were heading up a steep jeep track, getting a glimpse of what we’d only get to see in the next 3 hours or so (for me anyway), and bathed in much needed warm sunlight.

More jeep track climbs, and then we were greeted with this:

hint: the trail leads up that treeline Surprised smile. Helpful tip: Use the trees as leverage to pull yourself up.

Thankfully the incline doesn’t last too long (the advantage of writing up this report a week after the event: it was probably longer than I remember Smile) – and once you’re out on the other side, there’s a fair few km’s of beautful single track

… and great views

What’s also nice about the route is that it intersects quite a few times with the 15km route – something which one guy that passed me I’m sure was very grateful for – he’d missed one of the markers. One of those intersects leads to one of the features that make this trail run so unique – the river crossings!

from there it’s more beautiful mountain running

…which is good – because I didn’t feel so bad when I had to rest my dead quads at about the 19km mark.
This was a really good spot to take in the scenery and enjoy a chocolate energy bar

At about 20km I could hear the high pitched yelps of the 15km runners crossing the river below to make their way to the finish. For the rest of us though – we would have to torturously stare at our destination from across the dam, while we made our way around a few more contours

I managed to cross the finish just as prize giving had started – which was convenient because I could rest my very weary legs on the chairs they had packed out… and I walked away with another (silver leaf) tree for my Bastille Day Trail run collection. I think I’m going to have to clear a special place in the garden for them.

Some more links of interest:
15km race report
TrailRunning Facebook photos

Looking forward to next year – maybe I’ll be brave enough for the 35km by then.

Gallery with a few extra pics not posted above: