I can’t claim this as my own saying but it is a British Army adage. So what does this mean for race preparation?
1) Do not try something on race day or race week that you have not tested before!
2) You want to know how each piece of individual gear works but also how they work in conjunction to each other. (I once owned a CAPESTORM Helium jacket of a few generations ago. They had the stow pocket in the centre of the back. Nice idea but would cause instant chafe if you were wearing a backpack.)
3) Gear choices that are easy to manage. We have all run along and had a pebble in a shoe. We ignore it and the pebble grows and grows into a boulder until our feet are trashed. When eventually emptying our shoe we see the boulder is a mere grain of sand. You want to deal with minor issues that come up early before they build into major debilitating problems later.
4) Weather conditions change during the day and while you should plan for these you also need alternatives and stand by plans. Practice these beforehand so that it becomes natural.
What is PUFfer?
It is the most iconic point to point trail race in SA.
Think of it as Old Mutual Two Ocean’s Ultra Marathon 56km plus a run over Table Mountain.
Or OMTO toughest climbs (Chapman’s Peak and Constantia Nek) followed by the PUFfer route from Ou Wapad onwards!
PUFfer has many checkpoints, seconding and spectator points. This means there are many points of access that you have to your seconds.
The route is not technical. There is lots of running until Constantia Nek then big climb and descent of TM. Prepare for the descent down Platteklip. In my experience it hurts more when running Three Peaks!
How do I prepare?
Know the route:
You will know that you will get wet feet past Redhill and just below the Ou Wapad short cut. I would plan to change from road shoes into trail shoes at the start of the Ou Wapad.
You will know that it can be very warm on level five and two years ago we had hail on Vlakkenberg. Plan your clothing layers to work in both these extremes.
You will know that you will walk a lot from Constantia Nek to Maclear’s Beacon.
B) Know legal shortcuts. Check here for my blog post on this.
This will give you some idea of timing for each leg. In other words I know that I will take just under one hour to run from the start to the Cape Point Nature Reserve Gate where I will see my seconds for the first time. Besides my running kit I would plan to drink from a 500 ml water bottle on the bus trip down there. I will throw the bottle into a bin at the start and then run without anything for the first hour. I might mix some concentrated 32Gi Endure powder into a squeeze bottle to have with water at the 7km water table.
I would plan every leg of the race like this and my seconds would know exactly what I need where.
Know yourself and your gear: What are you comfortable with? Do you want to stay comfortable the whole way (Carry a lot of stuff) or do you want to run the best time you possibly can (suffer a bit more)? This is a pretty personal choice and nobody can make it for you. It is important to actively make this decision though as it will affect every other decision around your race. Read Andrew Skurka for more background.
Use your supporters: give them clear instructions with what gear you need for each section. What time they can expect you and where.
Two years ago I was supporting Adrian at his first PUFfer. I was waiting at Constantia Nek when I chatted to the second of one of the leading women. He asked me for a energy bar as he thought that his runner might like one. This is a
sponsored runner! I was amazed but gladly gave him what he needed.
I want to be in and out of transitions as quickly as possible. I don’t want to be stationary.
Come back in the next few days for my post on gear.