Finally after a crazy but very fun weekend I can get the report of the Runner’s World Wildlife Challenge done. This was a very nice race with a very relaxed and enjoyable vibe overall. The race was run at the Groenkloof nature reserve in Pretoria.
The start was at 7:30 and it was a beautiful, fresh morning. Although it was a short race, advertised as 12 to 15km and 13.1km in the end, I decided to carry my hydration pack with water as well as a few jelly babies with me. I want to be 100% comfortable with everything I need to carry on longer runs so I often carry more than needed on shorter runs as well. I see this as part of my training. I also took my new camera with me to take a few photos and see if I can get comfortable with that.
My 1st photo during a run or race
We started quite fast and everyone was running as if they had to be somewhere in a hurry. Maybe they wanted to get ahead of some people before the single track started. We got to this after about 0.5km and I just fell in behind the guy in front of me and kept going. The pace was still a bit fast for my liking and I realized later that I started close to the front and not close to the back as I normally do.
Soon we were at the first stream crossing and I decided to stop for a photo. This gave some runners that were in a big hurry a chance to pass and I could start some experimenting with the camera. My main concerns were keeping it dry and not dropping it. I had the camera in a plastic bag in one of my running belt’s pouches. This worked well but I did realize if I wanted to take a lot of pictures I’d lose a lot of time. On a trail this is probably worse as you need to be careful not to fall as well. I’m sure taking pictures during a road race would not waste as much time.
We entered the reserve and ran on jeep track next to the fence for a while. Then we turned onto the single track again and also started climbing. There were plenty of rocks on the trail and it twisted and turned all the time. My last time on a trail was in January so I had to get into “trail mode”. It was a perfect morning and I loved every second of the run. The route had something of everything. Jeep track, single track, stream crossings, some sand, rocky areas, tall grass and even a short bit of tar road.
There is some game in the reserve but I only saw a few giraffes just before the first water point. I stopped for a quick photo, but the sun was not ideal. At least you can see a giraffe in the picture if you look closely.
The water point was not great. They were busy filling cups with water when I arrived and a few runners were waiting for water. There was some energy drink in powder form, but none were mixed. I decided to skip the water point and just used my own. I was glad I had my hydration pack as there were about ten runners waiting for water.
We climbed more from here and there were some very technical parts with rocks and roots to climb over. I was having a ball! It was just great to be out on a trail. At some point I could see the leaders running through some long grass down below. They were flying!
We started our way back through the long grass and the field was spread out and sorted according to pace now. I was very relaxed and just had fun. I passed the second water point without stopping as I was relying on my hydration pack. I also ate a few jelly babies just because I had them with me.
The single track back to the finish was very rocky. I had to concentrate on my footing all the way. My legs were a bit tired on the climbs, but this was from the past two weeks running and training and not because of the trail.
As I neared the finish I was feeling fantastic. I ran very comfortably and the thought of the four trail races I signed up for in June excited me. My son was waiting for me on the road to the finish. He could see the runners approaching from far and screamed and waved when he saw me. It was great. As I came closer he sprinted ahead and I tried to catch up with him but couldn’t close the gap.
I crossed the finish line happy and even a bit disappointed that it was over so soon. I was happy and everything was perfect. After all the road races I’ve been doing this was very enjoyable.
Happy after the race
You can view these and more photos on the link below: