The Crazy Store Magaliesberg Mountain Challenge was just that…crazy! This was a great event but also really tough.
I arrived at the venue fairly early as I prefer to do. There is a river nearby so the temperature was a cold -1°C when I stopped my car. There was a lot of activity already and the number of runners that arrived grew quickly. The temperature also went up quickly as the day went on.
Beautiful location with the Magaliesberg in the distance. Yes, I did wonder where on the mountain we will run. :)
Registration was quick and easy for me. I received my number and a quality first Ascent shirt and cap. My race number was 35 and I wondered if it would bring luck for the 35km race. In the end the total distance wasn’t 35km and I think the luck went out the window (or down the mountain) with that.
I waited in the car and got all my gear ready. The race started at 09:00 but we had to be on the busses that took us to the start by 08:00.
Eager but nervous runners on the bus.
The bus ride was quick and everyone was talking about the big trail races in South Africa. Mont-Aux-Sources, Otter, Augrabies, Three Cranes… I realized that I was among some serious trail runners and thought maybe I’m actually one of them! Lol! The busses kind of just stopped in the middle of nowhere and it was announced that this is the start area.
The start area.
There was a detailed and very humorous route description where we were told that we were in for a hard day on the mountain.
Race briefing and route description.
Beautiful view of the mountain from the start.
Then finally we were on our way! There was a TV helicopter that made such a loud noise that no one could hear the start, but we did see the front runners take off.
On our way! Straight to the mountain.
The first 4km was on a farm road towards the mountain. This was a great way to spread the field out a bit before the single trail up the mountain. It was a truly beautiful morning in the bush with the mountain slowly getting closer.
To the mountain…
…and onto the trails.
Once on the side of the mountain the climb started in all seriousness. Talking became less and sweat started dripping. This was no easy task.
Serious climbing starts.
The view was already spectacular.
The trail zigzagged to the top and walking was the most popular way forward and upward. I felt good, but had some strange stomach cramps that worried me a bit. It was not the kind of cramps that wanted to send me running for a bush, but almost like a stitch right in the middle of my tummy. I tried to forget about the pain in my stomach by focusing on the amazing mountain we were on. I knew this is what I like to do. This is where I want to be. This is who I am. Even with the stomach pains I was a very happy man!
Still going up…
The scenery was breathtaking, but also gave a sense of harshness. Although it was beautiful, it reminded me that this is Africa and life out here can be hard. I got the feeling that only the strongest will survive out here.
Over the top of the first climb.
Once over the first climb we got a glimpse of the other side of the mountain. More beautiful views and the mountain itself is unbelievable. It is dry at the moment and nothing green is anywhere. Just rocks and dry grass everywhere. It has its own beauty.
On the other side.
It wasn’t long before we reached the next climb. Runner’s started to spread out thinly now. I realized that this will be a long, slow day.
Second climb of the day.
In good company…note the tattoo…
We finally reached the top of the mountain and followed a fairly level trail along the top for about 12km. It was lovely running here, but the pain in my stomach made running very uncomfortable and I had to slow down when running. It was more frustrating than anything else.
Trail on top of the mountain.
It was beautiful but the terrain was tough. There was no time to relax. Loosing concentration on a trail like this means one thing only…fall! Luckily I didn’t :) ! I managed this trail without a fall and only slipped and stumbled a few times.
Concentration needed on this trail.
We went up and down a few times as we ran along the mountain range. The grass was burnt in a few places and the sense of dry and harsh surroundings was very strong. No place for the weak here!
On we go!
The run along the top of the mountain was undulating, going up and down at times but with no serious climbs or descents. We were all waiting for the real descent of the mountain. We were warned that this would be dangerous.
At some point we reached another hard climb. This was the steepest of the day so far and I could feel I’ve been doing some serious running up to here. My legs felt this third hard climb.
Steepest and hardest climb of the day.
Made it to the top! Check that view!
We passed this rock going down the other side.
See what I mean by the harshness of the mountain?
We went through some very beautiful areas before we finally reached the last and long descent down the mountain. I was still battling with the cramps/pains in my stomach and knew going down would be very uncomfortable.
Top of the descent.
The descent was not as dangerous as I expected but I still took it very easy, making sure I didn’t fall. The stomach cramps were not helping my progress down the mountain either. I still don’t know what it was, but it was really bad at times. It drained my energy for sure and it was getting quite warm as well. On top of the mountain there was wind to cool us down, but on the side and at the bottom there was no wind. The trail went through some bush and grass towards a church at the bottom.
Some bush and grass.
Finally reaching the Greek Church.
We joined the 20km course at some point here and the water point they had at the church waited for the 35km runners as well. This was a relief for many runners. The mountain was dry and hot and I think even the organizers realized that the run was not safe without any water point somewhere.
The 20km water point waited for the 35km runners.
From the church the route was mainly flat and downhill towards the river with about 10km to go to the finish. I was tired but ok. My stomach made running difficult so my progress was slow with lots of walking in the last 10km. It was warm and I enjoyed the parts where we had some shade. I’m used to winter training at the moment and although it wasn’t extremely hot, I could certainly feel the heat.
Towards the river.
Typical South African bush in the winter. I love this!
I ran and walked the last few kilometers until I finally reached the river. I was moving slow so it felt very long. I was glad to see the water through the trees.
Finally at the river.
We followed a path next to the river for a while and then I got to run over this floating bridge!
This floating bridge was fun!
We then followed the path on the other side of the river towards the finish. We ran through some reeds…
…and there was this green spot…
...and more "reed tunnels"...
Then we had one more water crossing (no floating bridge this time) to get through. This was just deep enough to get the shoes and socks soaked properly.
A few more turns and then the finish was in sight. I was happy to see the finish. My stomach was still a problem and I was really tired now. A quick photo stop and then I crossed the finish line. Really happy that I was done but also happy that I could run this great race.
A tough day, but I’ll be back next year for sure! Thanks for reading!