Wow, wow, wow! Brutal, brutal, brutal...but so very special! That is the only way I can describe the Num-Num Trail Challenge.
We all knew we were in for a hard run on a very tough course, but I think all the first time runners got more than they expected. This is definitely the most difficult course I have ever run. Maybe not the most difficult race as it is not that long, but the most testing trail for sure.
I can honestly not classify this race yet. By that I mean I am not sure exactly what I got out of it. Yes, the experience and some of the most beautiful views I’ve ever seen. However, from a running and training perspective I’m not 100% sure yet. Maybe my brain is still processing it. To write a full report is nearly impossible as there was just so much to see and experience along the route. This trail is very special indeed.
I took many photos and posted a public link to that at the bottom of this post. I ran and felt that I could never switch off my camera or put it away. Around every corner there was something special to see or climb over or under or through...incredible!
By the time we reached some runnable trails my legs were already too tired to run. Recovery as I always experience on trails was very short lived as the next challenge would come soon. Then there would be another amazing waterfall and the pain would be forgotten.
I felt part of a special group of people doing something amazing. It was not just another race, it was an amazing experience. I now understand why they make this 36.5km (23 mile) hiking route a 5 day trip. Some of the climbs are never ending and very steep. The climb up to the second checkpoint certainly tested me mentally and physically. Every aspect of trail running was thrown at us from start to finish. The less experienced trail runners certainly had a hard time out there.
Then there were the ladders and bridges…some a bit more sturdy than others. All adding to the great experience on this trail. The saying “Africa is not for sissies” kept popping into my head. This was some hardcore stuff.
The waterfalls and views certainly made the effort worthwhile. Every time I hit a low and felt like death, some view, waterfall or other magnificent wonder from nature would be there to lift me up again. Standing at the bottom of a waterfall, knowing I had to now climb to the top of it, was exciting but also very humbling.
This was a fantastic experience and I thank everyone that made it possible. The Num-Num Trail Challenge will become one of the “must do” trail races in South Africa. If you haven’t experienced this, you haven’t experienced trail running yet. I was tested in every possible way on this run.
I love the medal! Hand made by a local artist. Very special, but also small to remind me it's not about the medal...
Next year…mmm…I’m negotiating with my wife J…