The problem with catching a lift in the back of a bakkie is that you only know what town you are going through once you have gone through it. Not so with Oudtshoorn. The featherd “friends” along the side of the road were a dead giveaway! There was a high enough fence between me and them and Roger had his foot on the gas. I was safe for the time being. We were on our way to run with Rhinos and buffalo for the weekend in the World Heritage Site.
Our Carbo loading program had started a little earlier in Barrydale at a road side coffee shop advertising “The World’s Best Chocolate Cake!” We will have three to go please. It was always going to be difficult to live up to that high expectation but they made a good effort.
Finally we arrived at our camping spot on Boskloof which was great and not too far from the start. A quick catch up with Laura and then to more pasta munching and early bed.
Early rise and quick brekks and then the 45min drive to the start. Darrel and Evie were ready and we received our massive goody bags and final race instructions.
Warren Petersen was there so it would have to be a race for second! Too early to tell anyway. The gun went off and we did the 7km loop back towards the main gate. The flat warm up before the monster climb. Warren disappeared into the distance and I never saw him again.
Ian caught me just after the first water table and we pushed each other up the big climb. He was strong and wanted to chat. Something I am not so good at. I hope he did not think I was too rude. By the time we got near the top of the big climb Warren was long gone and Christo (in 4th) was not far behind. Time to put on a bit of pressure!
I was feeling strong from the hill training in previous weeks so ran what I could and managed to pull away. I did not want to feel like being chased too much but it was hard not to feel like a hare. “In Africa you either wake up being chased (like a Oryx) or you wake up doing the chasing (like a Lion)” loosely from Born to Run- Christopher McDougal. I certainly felt like an Oryx.
The view was spectacular. Rolling hills as far as the eye could see. I had built a little gap between me and 3rd placed so managed to settle into my own stride quite nicely. It was not long before the water point at 23km came into view.
Quickly refill my bottles, drop a Zym in one and I was off. Along cattle paths down onto another ridge line. I figure it would be quite a long way back. The bright yellow markers were far and few and despite trying not to go the wrong way I lost about 15min running past the turn off. I realised my mistake and my heart sank. It felt I had really messed it up and would not make up the lost positions! Then suddenly we hit the steep and windy downhill. I knew I would be quick down this and pushed on. Suddenly tow spectators commented that Ian and Christo were struggling through the dense Spekboom. I upped the pace knowing that I needed just a little luck to pass them again only 2km from the end.
A virtual sprint allowed me to pass the two who were still trying to untangle themselves from the bush only meters from the path. Go go go. No looking back now!
A sprint through the campsite and 2nd was secure.
A very well organised event in a great location offering everything a trail race should have! Big hills, stunning location, technical terrain underfoot and a sense of adventure. I would mark the course better along the ridge and on the steep downhill. I can easily recommend this to anyone! Well worth the drive.