sunset and sunrise had passed. The doctor had said I must go… Coffee/hot
chocolate mix, banana bread and left over Neolife bar were my breakfast. I put
a fresh pair of socks on (because they were there; my feet were still fine). Off,
out of the door. Tobie followed shortly behind as we headed up the road, turned
left through the border and… wow… what a view! No, not the four 100km guys watering
the sidewalk, but the view of the sun rising up over the Underberg down Sani
Pass. Glorious. And warm!
was 3 hours behind my “ideal” time, but only 30 minutes behind my “take your
time” time, and feeling relatively fresh (or so I thought), I decided to push a
little going down the pass. It was the pass we’d driven up and there was a good
portion of the road on which to run or at least walk with intent and not worry
about tufts of grass, hidden markings, or loose rocks and water erosion.
order I passed Chris and Bianca (aka the Malkoppies), and Nick and Kim who were
all approaching the turnaround for the UTD 100. It had been a stress-filled few
weeks waiting for Bianca’s passport that didn’t come. Thankfully the Malkoppies
decided to still enjoy the ‘Berg… and seeing them lightened my mood. Kim is an
inspiration on a number of different levels… and experiencing an effervescent
greeting was magic: another energy boost! (Seeing how comfortable and strong Kim
looked, I had no doubt about the outcome of her goal… getting the 100km monkey
off her back was already guaranteed). Kim and Nick were merrily marching their
way to the end.
way to turning off the road a shadow joined a silhouette in a culvert… Cindy
popped out of the bushes to join Stuart… and another fun greeting and exchange
of encouragement! “You look good”, they said. I replied, “It’s my makeup!” We
made futile plans to do a “Paul Freeth Squirrelling” tribute afterwards… What
is fun if it isn’t full of life?
off the road on my bottom through gushing water was fun… so much water; water
everywhere. Us drought-encumbered “Kaapenaars” (those from the Cape, Eastern or
Western) were awe-struck. The grass was long and green. The trees, neither many
nor big because of altitude, were all thriving; what a pleasure to see and
experience. A series of short, sharp climbs and descents punctuated by some
contour travelling followed along the side of the 12 Apostles that line the
Sani Pass like sentinels. By this time all the 100km runners had run past me as
my power failed. This was completely unlike what happened to me at Addo where I
powered past even the 76km runners! What?!
ultra you will experience high’s and lows, and they will come at you in
different ways. The trick is to know how to deal with them… Don’t stop! Usually
a good dose of food helps anything (sage advice from Nelson Mandela Bay’s own
ultra king, Andy Wesson). And hydration key… you don’t survive without liquid!
I’ve used Tailwind in my water for nearly 6 months. Carrying the powder is
definitely easier than carrying litres of coconut water (which I’d used
effectively before). And of course my trusty Neolife bars, with 720kJ per
serving, offer superb energy and all around nutrition for ultra events. A
little shot of caffeine to wake you up can do wonders, too.
was hardly half way, I took it easy along the ridge, running seldom and slowly,
but choosing to walk with meaning all the time
sucking in the views, the
experience and the folly of fitness. I even saw a Dragon's Potty! It really is different up here, and there were no sane humans to confirm nor deny my swim...
the top of the last ridge I thought it would be a great place for a zipline!
But then, that would be the easy way down… why not just do it the hard way and
walk! The welcome at the aid station from Andrew Booth and family was magic (I’d
have carried on following the markers instead of stopping had he not hailed me
from across the fields… and it wouldn’t have been the first time!) Stew. Water.
Other food. A flush toilet. Happy conversation. I stayed too long… but what
comfort. And of course another miler caught me: Deon Braun, you yster! (tr: Strong
It was time
to move. My biokineticist would be pleased as I stretched out my back and legs.
The only thing I couldn’t do was foam roll my ITBs. No worries, with the
stretching done, I hitched on my pack, looked up at the blue sky, saw the
treetops respectfully bowing to the breeze, and headed back to the mountains leaving
Deon to enjoy the hospitality in Sani. Ahead lay the “easy”, “run-able” section
of this event: the Giants Cup Trail on Ezemvelo Parks land.
the park again and I had a mishap… I was running. It was 5 meters up the side
of a kloof (gorge) where the water was gushing down. The sound was akin to rock
music; beautiful. The trees grew great and green overhead, and out of black
cliff faces. The water was clear and dark, and you could see the stones and
rocks at the bottom of the river and pools. Water gave its percussive tempo as
it tripped over boulders into pools and along eddies. The grass was long and it
didn’t like the way my trekking pole brushed it. It sent the pole in front of
my leg… and I tripped and fell. Had the poles not been tethered to my wrists,
they would have been lost in the water below. As it was, my knee twisted and I
clung to the grass and path as I hung off the sloped cliff. My running was
done. And my sports tape was 3km away in my bag at the last check point.
out. Try run. Stretch. Rest. Search my pack again. Nope. If I go back 3km, that
is the end of AMUK. It would be another 6km. Not an option. Keep going. Rest.
Stretch… walk it out… it WILL get easier.
through the kloof and water, mount a rock that would have been tough to climb
5km into a run (let alone 105km in). See Deon on a section of trail about 1km
back… he’s catching up! I climb a hill and see people resting there! Stop… have
a conversation about the beauty of the area and the madness of running through
it instead of savouring a hike; and get offered pineapple. Those 3 pieces were
the most delicious fruit ever,… sweet and pungent. While enjoying the fruit, I
now had a new pain to worry about: I bit a hole in my tongue! There is something
to be said for “pain transference theory”… Not a lot to recommend it, but in
certain circumstances it may assist the sufferer!
500m on and
I round a rock. Another big hairy baboon-sized rock 10 meters to my left jumps up
and down! It is not even 4pm, this is NOT a hallucination! Yes, it’s a baboon
and his congress; as he lands he strolls off through his mates as if he didn’t
get a fright; he’s the boss. I walked on keeping a wary eye out behind. No
By this time,
although the knee was still sore, I could run a little, and I did. Until
another tuft of grass caught my ankle… Run-able? Not for me! I descended
gingerly through a channel of rocks, and allowed Deon to catch up. He knew the
trail. He didn’t have sports tape… but we weren’t far off of Cobham. We
marched. Fortunately it was comparatively flat and I could keep up. Slowly the
pain subsided and I began to move more freely, taking in the amphitheatres
created by the ‘Berg, scoping out Dragon’s lairs for later exploration, and
enjoying the story of how Trail Magazine came to be.
There are certain
sponsors who stand out… Squirrels Nut Butter has to be one of them. On the lead
in to Cobham SNB had posted signs and a Strava Segment to get runners to run
(or try to). But Deon is a friendly guy, and just before that segment started we
were about to cross a river; he greeted some cops on horseback… and lost his
one trekking pole into the river. We chased up and down the bank, but found
nowhere to get in. The pole was a gonner. We trudged the last 500m to Cobham.
please! Strap my right knee, please? Yes, sir! Coffee? Banana Bread? Banana?
Water? Farbar? Don’t mind if I do! What will the temperature be tonight?
Nothing like last night… its looking clear, so it will probably get chilly! But
this is the mountains… what chance of mist? Maybe, but… you’re chasing cut off
and will have to push if you want to make the end on time!
As Deon and
I were just about ready to get going, in walks Tobie. He’s asking for us to
wait a bit and lead him through the dark… Do we wait? Do we go? Who sacrifices what?
"I HAVE to finish this race," I think. "#RunAMUK to #RazeABar". Donate here...