I have a certain fascination with hills (probably from my climbing days). The Lesotho Ultra Trail came along promising a brand new event and plenty of hills. I was in!
This trip was more about new experiences than anything else but more of that below.
First I picked up two fellow competitors in Sandton. We look quite out of place squashing duffels into an i10 and generally getting in the way of Gucci clad BUSYness people. (I guess Linda brought here laptop in an attempt to blend in).
We zoot off. Ok we are stuck in traffic for 90 min after which we increase our overall speed, following the guiding star to Bethlehem, and on to the border. At the border Linda is asked if she is also here to run! The countryside is pretty, the hills bigger as the road starts to wind into the valley. We sign in three times. “You can check out any time but you can never leave….”
After gear check we find our various homes for the weekend. Andrew has scored luxury in Adolf’s bunker.
Race briefing and formalities with empty stomachs. But the wait was worth it. We dig into the buffet and catch a few hours of sleep.
At some point I get a lift in a Cayenne. I always wanted to drive in a Porsche, never imagined it would be in Lesotho!
Next morning I have a small breakfast of eggs and greasy potatoes about 1h before the gun goes off. This is going to be more of a mountaineering day than running at full pace so I approach it as such. The tops are under clouds, no problem.
The AJ Calitz Safety Car is out for the first 500m as I joke to those around me that this is the last we will see the front bunch. Little do I know.
Soon the first big climb arrives and I slow to a walk pretty early on. Easy does it. Way too early to push. Revelation number 1: I get my nutrition right.
The mist closes in around us on the ridgeline. I continue at my own pace. As I briefly retrace my steps to find the next marker I see AJ and Ian come towards me. (So they were the voices I heard in the wrong direction.) We navigate together for a few km until we join another group and I drop back.
Descent into heat and sun and to the main checkpoint in the valley, we see it a long way below us. The guys open a big gap on my conservative legs. Dreaded jeeptrack (the only 4km of non single track of the day) then the ridge climb. Crest the wave and after a quick coke, more down. Quads hurting. Still I dare not go 100%. Finally the river and I push as much as I can. I pass Buff® boy and another.
I am pleased to hit the final descent and finish. I have not done much since then, just letting my fried brain and tired body come back. After 6 days of chilling I am psyched to climb on the bike and put in some miles this weekend!
Thanks to Andrew and Linda for sharing this trip!
Thanks to the organising crew and Maliba lodge for a great event.
Thanks to my team I have run my first ultra in 3 years completely pain free! Onwards…
- http://www.lesothoultratrail.com/ Official website
- http://skyrunningsa.wordpress.com/ South African Skyrunning Association
- Running in the Kingdom in the Sky (mikeshorizons.wordpress.com)
- The countdown has begun to Africa’s first Ultra SkyMarathon , the Lesotho Ultra Trail. (iancorless.org)