The “Trail Run Virgin” Diaries / 7 ~ by Jan Ham

Photo Credit:  Volume Photography

Trail running can be unpredictable at times even more so in multi-stage trail running.  One Day you’re feeling strong, 24 hours later you feel like throwing in the towel, find the nearest shady spot and just lie there in the foetal position waiting for your mom to come fetch you in the sick bay at school. And so Stage 2 of the ProNutro AfricanX Trailrun presented by New Balance would be no different. Stage 2 is traditionally dress-up day, and this year did not disappoint, including a few Baywatch lifesavers, adult babies, Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf, and a few Springbok rugby players.

With the onset of this adventure my mission was to get my teammate Will Saaiman to the finish line after Stage 3, today my mood and energy fluctuated like the trails we were running. One moment flying down the smooth mountain bike (MTB) single track, the next in the dumps on a climb!

We went home last night to get a good night’s rest, but I recon I forgot to pack my legs.  All went well till water point 2 at around 19km, on route playing a quick game of Uno with “Ze Germans”, Robert Le Brun and his partner Damo, overlooking False Bay at the top of the Gantouw Pass.

From here it was pretty much plain sailing on smooth MTB manicured single track, including the magnificent “Rock Garden” section, a great section of technical single track, before flattening out again towards the 2nd water point at the Elgin Grabouw Country Club (EGCC).

From here things went pretty much pear/apple shaped for me. Even the smallest little incline felt like a massive climb, and we resorted to a walk every little hill, run the downhill and flats strategy, something that would catch up to us later on. The slog up to the 3rd water point was long, slow and very hot, with temperatures now reaching the middle 30’s. I cannot commend the staff manning these points enough, as they really were lifesavers on the day.

The run, walk, run strategy now became a survival strategy to water point 4, and from here we pushed towards the finish line at the Paul Cluver amphitheatre. Will was as strong as an ox the whole day, the fact that I was taking strain and slowing the pace might have contributed to him running back to back 30 odd km’s, but eventually his nagging ITB caught up with him. I would run downhill, while he walked, and he would catch up on the climbs as I would be walking these sections. What amazed me was his fighting spirit, seeing a couple of teams struggling ahead of us he wanted to push to make up some time and position on the stage. We caught three teams in the dying km’s, and finished the day strong, a good sign for the final stage.

What stands between Will and his maiden PAX finishers tee is 22km from Houw Hoek down to Botrivier and back, on some of the most beautiful mountain trail in the Western Cape. We might have sore legs in the am, but Stage 3 you sometimes run on guts, and guts alone.

Rest well, feet up, and see you guys at the start line in the morning.

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