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

Monday, 5 November 2012

Golden Gate Challenge – Day 2(29km) Report

I woke up on Saturday morning feeling a lot better than I thought I would after a hard day 1. My legs were a little tired but not very sore. I was secretly the most afraid of day 2 and especially the start of day 2. Feeling stronger than I anticipated gave me a huge boost.

Getting ready for day 2.

There was a cold wind blowing and the news from the top of the mountain was of 0°C…freezing point! I opted for a long sleeve top over my shirt to shield me from the cold wind.

Starting day 2.

Heidi Mocke, our RD, made no secret from the fact that day 2 starts with a monster climb. She warned us about the climb that would make us hate her on many occasions.

Well, let’s just say that Heidi did not disappoint J .

Early climbing on day 2.

Tired legs were tested once again.

We were climbing very early on and the legs certainly felt the previous day’s effort. It was a beautiful, open morning, but the trails were still very wet. As we approached our first water crossing of the day, the monster climb stood before us. Tiny specs of front runners made some people gasp. It was indeed a monster climb!

Water crossing just to remind us the mountain was wet.

The climb ahead…tiny runners making their way up.

The climb was hard and very steep in places. The terrain was easier than I expected and that made me positive. I was also a lot less tired from day 1 than I expected. This was doable I thought.

Starting the tough climb.

I broke the climb into smallish chunks and made my way up to the top. Stopping for air and taking photos helped keeping my mind off my burning legs. At least everyone was going through the same, some clearly in worse shape than I was.

Everyone is tired. Knowing this helped me a lot.

I was sweating a lot going up but I have learned to keep my warmer layers on for the cold wind that always waits at the top. As I approached the first summit of the day I was glad I learn from experience as the wind was really cold.

This climb was long as well as steep.

Nearly at the summit.

Sounds of Hallelujah rang through the air as we finally made it to the top! The first challenge of the day was done and a long stretch with downhills and flats was waiting. I felt great going down the other side of the mountain with brilliant views in all directions.

 Worth the hard effort!

The first water and checkpoint of the day waited on the other side of the mountain. My legs were getting stronger and better as I dropped down into the valley where I spotted the water point. Bacon and egg sandwiches awaited!

First checkpoint with bacon and egg sandwiches!

Feeling good after 8.5km of day 2.

There was  no serious climbs for a while and we ran on a jeep track with mostly flat and downhill. As Murphy would have it the wind was blowing strong from the front on all the downhills!

Flat and down…with the wind against us!

The wind was still cold and I kept my long sleeve on for the first 18km. There was always something beautiful to look at. This part of the reserve is not open for the public and I knew I was privileged to run here. This area is called Little Serengeti.

In the heart of Little Serengeti.

The second checkpoint came very quickly and I was feeling great. Progress was faster than day 1. I did wonder about a second huge climb I saw on the route profile. Heidi was very quiet about that one… We ran over some petrified/fossilized river beds which I found really cool!

Stone now, but river bed many many years ago…awesome!

It was really beautiful here. The grass was green and everything looked clean and pure. I removed my long sleeve at the second checkpoint because the sun was starting to make its presence felt.

Green and beautiful.

Then the second climb of the day came into view… Again the tiny runners making their way to the top gave an indication of how big the climb was. I knew it was the last big climb of the day and kept my thoughts on that.

Next obstacle ahead. Tiny runners at the top!

This climb was no joke either! Still, I was feeling strong and positive. I was certainly going to finish day 2 with enough left for a good day 3.

Another long and hard climb.

Getting closer to the top…

Rewarded with another amazing view - happiness!

There was one little down side to reaching this point…it was not the end of the climb! There was a flat stretch ahead followed by another last climb to the summit. The flat stretch was beautiful and there were Zebras and Black Wildebeest grazing the green grass. It was absolutely spectacular!

Amazing place! I will do this race again just to get here again.

Then it was time to tackle that final part of the climb. I was eating “Race Food” during this race. I love this product and will review it soon. Their one advertisement is done by a regular Everest climber. He says: “You eat your way up a mountain”. I did just that and it worked!

Still hard climbing!

The most incredible views!

At the top! Unbelievable!

I stood still for a few moments and took in the views from the top of this mountain. It was truly amazing. Rushing past here would be a sin. This was one of those moments where I really felt small and insignificant.

I have no words to describe what I saw and felt here…

My spirit was high as I ran to the next checkpoint. This was at some chalets with the most spectacular view. I have to bring the family here for a weekend!

3rd and last waterpoint of the day.

My mind was in heaven, but as we hit the concrete road down the mountain from the chalets, my legs told me very quickly that this was hell! It was a hard and painful descent on this road. My quads were screaming!

Very painful descent on this road.

Luckily it didn’t last too long and we were back on the trails soon enough. We were now heading home and I was feeling great! I was getting stronger and stronger towards the end. This made me very happy!

Back on the trail.

We ran a short bit on tar road. Here we passed a spot where we heard 100’s of frogs. It was awesome and made me feel even stronger. We crossed the main road and then Mushroom Rock came into view.  The finish was just behind that. I ran the last few km quite hard. I was very happy that I was feeling so good.

Mushroom Rock

One last water crossing.

Up one last time.

We climbed up to the base of the rock and then ran around it. The finish was now in view and I saw I would go under 6 hours for the day. Anette was waiting at the finish once again and took some pics. Seeing her at the finish was awesome every day.

I finished strong and very happy! 05:56:42

Day 2 in the bag!

Second part of the trophy received.

I was positive and ready for the third and final day.


HappyTrails said...

This is stunning scenery Johann - what a privilege to run in such wonderful places!!

Mike said...

Great pics of what looks like a tough race.

Robin said...

Another spectacular race report! A great day 2!

Karien P. said...

Spectacular! What an amazingly beautiful country we are privileged to live in. Can't wait to see the completed trophy :) !

KovasP said...

What a beautiful course - that petrified river is amazing!

Jerry Smallwood said...

Total respect for you Johann, that climb was worth every step with those views

Jim ... 50after40 said...

Following every step of your journey ... very inspiring!

Jennifer said...

What a great adventure! So proud of you Johann. And great images and story too.

ajh said...

Those hills are some kind of steep. Wow! It is so impressive that you did this for 3 days. But you had to get the rest of the trophy.

Char said...

The trophy is great. I love how you get it bit by bit to entice you to push on with the next challenge. You did great!

Average Woman Runner said...

Very impressive, big congratulations Johann! Nice surprise to come upon a bunch of frogs during your run :)

TR said...

What an absolutely stunning view!

Jill said...

So so so gorgeous. I can't get over how green it is there. We don't have that in Colorado, except for a few weeks in spring. Great job, Johann - I am so inspired by your grit at these tough races!! Will you come and run Leadville 50 with me next year for my 59th bday???? I'd LOVE it! :)

misszippy said...

You are amazing! What a tough day out there and yet you finished with a smile and ready for day 3. Such beautiful shots, as always!

Lindsay said...

so incredibly gorgeous. thank you for stopping to take the pics! what an amazing race. i enlarged the one picture and still couldn't see the tiny runners on the huge climb!

XLMIC said...

Such an amazing way to experience the countryside! I want more than ever to visit SA now. Great job both with the run and the write-up!