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

Monday, 7 January 2013

Sabie Xperience Stage 3 Report

Monday morning and it was time for stage 3 of the first Sabie Xperience Trail Race. Stage 1 and Stage 2 was in the bag! I must say, it was a tired looking bunch of runners waiting around at the start. The morning-evening-morning format of the race was quite hard and definitely more difficult than the 3 morning starts of most stage races.

A bit tired but ready for stage 3.

Wet shoes and dirty socks long before the start.

There were less runners present than the morning of the first stage. Some pulled out after the night stage and others didn’t bother to return when there was so much rain the Sunday afternoon. Wet shoes, dirty socks and tired bodies did not appeal to everyone. Our socks and shoes were wet even before the start of stage 3.

Race briefing.

Soon the race briefing was over and we were on our way. 18km for the long run and 11km for the short run. We were heading towards some beautiful waterfalls today. I was tired but OK and ready for the challenge.

We started in the same direction as the night before and were soon out on the beautiful trails. It was still very humid with lots of mud on the ground. The bush and trails were beautiful!

Awesome trails again!

It wasn’t long before we could see the waterfalls in the distance. There were some spectacular views on our way to the first water table at 6km. I was feeling good when I reached the water table and looking forward to running at the waterfalls.

Running towards the waterfalls.

Water table at 6km.

After the water table it was only about 1km to the car park at the Bridal Veil Falls. It was still early so the car park was empty. The locals were putting out all the goods they sell to tourists through the day. Then it was on to the waterfall.

Locals sell their goods to tourists at the car park.
Running to Bridal Veil Falls

This is also where the climbing started. From the car park to the waterfall is a slight uphill through the forest. Just before the waterfall we turned right onto a hiking trail. This would take us up to the top of the falls. The indigenous forest was unbelievable and so dense it was impossible to see through the brush. The plants formed a natural tunnel.

About 500m on this trail we came to another waterfall. It was really beautiful and the water sprayed against my sweating face. I was really happy to be here!

Another beautiful waterfall.

Happy to be here!

Then it was up once more for the rest of the climb. My legs could now feel the two previous stages. It was still very humid and also getting warm. Luckily there were spectacular views to take my mind off the climb. Sabie is truly one of the most beautiful places I know.

Great views make the climb easier.

Before I reached the top there was another waterfall to pass. Wow, it was really great! All the rain made for beautiful waterfall spotting and the bush was lush and green.

Very special place to run.

Finally I reached the top and we turned onto a gravel road to make our way down again. There were some great views of Sabie from here and yes, another waterfall!

Gravel road down.

Passing another beautiful waterfall.

We followed the gravel road for a few kilometers and then turned onto a single trail through the pine plantations again. I was now heading home for the finish of the race with about 7km to go. Running between the trees was again very special.

Plantation running is very special!

We made our way towards the Sabie River and I was glad when I reached the water. I knew the last few kilometers were along the river and the race was nearly over. I would soon finish my next stage race!

Sabie River.

The river was flowing strong and crossed over it for the last time…this time on a bridge and not through the water. There were 2km to go and this was all flat now. I felt tired but very good.

Nearly done!

They were getting ready for the prize giving when I crossed the finish line and I got a huge ovation when I came running in. It was super and the RD was there to welcome me personally. What a great feeling and what a fantastic event!

RD at the finish.

This was one of the best organized races I have ever run. The handouts were superb and marshalling top notch. I will definitely be back next year. Thank you for a great race!
Super medals!

Super goody bags!

Anette fished her first stage race as well! We were very happy and I am very proud of her.

Evidence of a great race...

So that’s it for the Sabie Xperience. It was a fantastic Xperience and I recommend this race to all. The short race is also a great way for beginners to get into stage racing. I also know now that stage races is my new favorite type of race. Stage trail races that is…

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