"I'd rather be seen on my bicycle than on a park run" - Quote from the dark side

Monday, 18 June 2012

Gauteng Winter Trail XL Race Report

It was cool and overcast when we left home for Hennops River yesterday morning at 06:15. It was not very cold and I looked forward to a great race in good weather. I was happy as I haven’t run a race in a long time. The race was part of the Gauteng Winter Trail Series. This was the second run and the only winter event that included a 20km XL run.

We arrived with plenty of time to get our numbers and some good coffee, we being me and Anette, who was there for her first trail race. Anette ran the 5km short course and finished comfortably, feeling good. Well done Anette! I’m very proud of you!

Just before the start.

Time went by very quickly and before I knew what was what we were on our way. We ran on a dirt road for the first part to help spread out the field. There were about 100 runners in the 20km race. This venue is known for its difficult and testing route. It wasn’t long before we reached the first uphill.

Going up early on.

It was just after the first hill that I realized my hydration pack was leaking. Not a great feeling 2km into a tough 20km trail! The few drops very quickly became a steady trickle and I knew it was a broken bladder. I took it off for a quick look and confirmed it tore open right in the middle on the bottom seam.

Luckily for some reason when I packed my gels and other fuel for the run I included a 500ml bottle of water. I don’t know why I did this but I think the trail fairies were watching over me. So I continued with the 500ml water in my hand. Running with a bottle in my hand doesn’t bother me on the road, but on a trail run it is not great or recommended. I was glad the first part of the race was on very runable road, jeep track and good single track.

Runable road…

jeep track…

and single track.

I can also be glad that the weather was perfect for running and the fact that I had little water was not the end of the world. I also had a 500ml bottle with some energy drink I mixed the night before. I was confident I had enough for the 20km.

After about 10km we reached the more technical parts of the race. I knew there was a very hard and very technical hill up ahead, so I drank all the water and placed the bottle back in my pack. I needed my hands free for the climb.

Reaching the more technical parts of the trail.

The climb is hard with rocks everywhere.

Trail straight ahead...or is it? Beautiful aloes!

The climb is hard and quite long, but I must admit I didn’t feel it as bad as I did when I ran here two years ago. I was a bit surprised at how easily I made it to the top. The view from the top is beautiful.

View with Pelindaba Nuclear Research Centre and a stunning aloe.

The rocks and plants change the moment you run onto the top of the mountain. Different, trees, plants and rocks are found at the top and the southern side of the mountain than what is on the northern side.

Running along the top.

View to the other (southern) side.

The run along the top is fairly flat with some short climbs and descents. There are rocks everywhere and you need to concentrate fully not to take a tumble. I saw many runners fall, some even more than once. My little fall on last week’s training run was a good thing as my concentration was good the whole way.

Some parts were easier to run.

We ran across the top of the mountain and then had a short and steep descent to the river below. We crossed the river on a hanging bridge.

Descending to the bridge below.

Bridge over the river.

My turn to cross.

From the bridge to the right.

From the bridge to the left.

I was feeling really good and happy with my progress. There is one last climb after the bridge and then we had a final climb down to the river bank.

Climbing down to the river.

I took out the bottle with the energy drink here and drank quite a lot of it with one go. I was thirsty! Although I was feeling good I knew I didn’t drink enough and if the race was longer I would have been in trouble.

The run along the river is beautiful. It is flat and a great way to run the last few kilometers of a race.

Beautiful trail!

Lovely run to the finish.

We passed some beautiful rocks next to the river and then we ran the last kilometer through the trees, back onto the road we started on and to the finish.

Interesting rocks.

Anette was waiting for me at the finish and I was so keen to hear about her run I forgot to take any photos there. I finished feeling very good and was really happy with my run. Although my hydration pack was a fail I still had a great race and that was excellent.

Signs of a successful morning on the trails.

Nice medal.

Next up the Num-Num Trail Challenge on 7 July. This is one of my main goals for 2012.

Thanks for reading and have great week everyone!


abbi said...

Looks like a great race, I love the bridge pictures! Looks like fun to cross!

Jim ... 50after40 said...

Wait a tick, "Winter" ... are you on the other side of the world or something (kidding of course, I know where you live) I always enjoy your race reports and all the photos - makes me feel like I was there. By-the-way, it's not at all winter here today - about 95 degrees.

KovasP said...

Beautiful race, ass always, love the bridge!

Mark said...

Wow! Awesome Johann!

ajh said...

That bridge looks like it could be fun but creepy. It must sway like mad if many people are hurrying across it. Glad it all worked out.Sounds like a great day for both of you!

Jill said...

I was thinking about you when I was running my uphill race Saturday, thinking it was time for Johann to get in a great trail race as I hadn't seen any from you in while. YAY, here is one, and a good one at that. So glad you felt great, that climbing doesn't look easy ... but wow, so rewarding when you get to the top with the views. I'm pretty sure I'd have a little meltdown on that bridge...I might have to swim across :). So happy you had a great race and congrats to your wife on her great race, too. Love the pretty medal!! :)

Kate Geisen said...

Wow, how lucky that you brought those extra drinks! Trail gods were definitely looking out for you!

Your pictures, as always, are beautiful. What a good feeling to be stronger than last time you ran this! Congratulations to you and to Anette on your races!

Jerry Smallwood said...

My kinda run, a toughy but it sounds and looks fantastic.

Detroit Runner(Jeff) said...

this looks like an awesome run. I love the bridge crossing but it looks scary old.

Ewa said...

Congrats, Anette!!! Way to go.

Johann, that trail looks quite challenging. I was wondering why you do not like holding a bottle in your hand while you are OK with holding your camera. ;-)

Great pictures and I love the medal.

Char said...

Those rock formations are fascinating. It's pretty impressive what a bit of water and a lot of time can do to hard rock.

Great race Johann. It always sounds like you're having the time of your life. Congrats to Anette too.

Giorgio said...

What a beautiful bridge over the river!
Congrats to you and your wife on your race ... Great race and nice report!

Lauren said...

I would freak out if my bladder ripped during a race. Definitely would have to fight to not lose the mental battle. Awesome job that you kept going. And what an absolutely gorgeous race! I would love to run this one. I especially want to cross that bridge. Congratulations to Anette. How awesome that her first race was a trail race. That takes a lot of guts. : )

Colin Hayes said...

Well done Johann! Sounds like a fun & challenging race on a tough course. You run in some beautiful areas!

Tina @GottaRunNow said...

So fun to see the race route photos! Glad you made it across the bridge without taking a swim first!

ultra collie said...

well done annette..you'll soon be catching him up!

johann..im just waiting for indianna jones to appear in one of your shots

Amy said...

Wow! That is quite impressive - I'm not sure I would have been brave enough to get myself over that bridge, though...
Glad that your leaky water bag didn't cause you too many problems at the end of the day!

Big Daddy Diesel said...

Congrats on another successful race

Indi said...

AWesome race! great job! You always have the best trail pictures and boy did that trails have some of everything!

Robin said...

Looks like another spectacular trail run! Beautiful pics. Congrats!

Teamarcia said...

Looks like another fine adventure! Kind of fun looking at your winter while we sit here broiling!

Theia said...

Yay for the trail fairies!

OMG, I would have freaked out on that bridge!

Black Knight said...

Congrats to the running couple!
Beautiful medal. Another piece for your (I think) big collection.
I lost mine when I moved from the old to the new house.

A-Pi (Peter) said...

Looks like a fantasy course, the kind of bridge only seen in movies. Well done to both of you!
Thanks too for the post-marathon encouragement!

Karen said...

What a cool looking race!

Laura @ Mommy run fast said...

What an awesome course! I've never done a trail run (not many options around here) but this really makes me want to try it one day! Thanks for stopping by my blog- glad to connect with you!