The “Trail Run Virgin” Diaries / 8 ~ by Jan Ham

Two hard days behind us, and it has boiled down to just another 22km before the Trail Virgin gets his first ProNutro AfricanX Trailrun presented by New Balance finishers medal, and well deserved it would be.

With the dreaded ITB kicking in towards the end of Stage 2, Will booked an early morning strapping and foam roller session, while I closed my eyes lying on my back in my tent juggling through memories of the previous two days of running. 22km, that’s all that was left of this incredible journey, and for Will to complete his first multi-stage event, having not run more than 23km before the onset on Friday.  Two days later, although slightly battered and bruised, his enthusiasm to finish had not dwindled.

Checking the route profile, we knew we were going to be in for a bumpy “ride”, as downhill and ITB don’t mix, so we started off quite conservatively on the first few km’s down the pass into Botrivier. But once things flattened out a bit, then started the big climb back up towards Houw Hoek, Will got into his climbing element (those Monday night hill sessions starting to pay dividends)  and the competitive nature kicked in too. This section of trail is probably the most beautiful of all 3 days, pure mountain trail running, technical, steep at times with amazing vistas.

It was over almost too quickly as we headed up the last little incline to the second water point, and from there 4km’s of relatively easy running to the finish line. Even the last little sting in the tail climb towards the end, and the fun switchbacks (not if you have ITB) could damper our spirits as we race home to complete my 5th, and his maiden ProNutro AfricanX.

What made it even more special was that our beautiful wives and kids were waiting on the finish line to welcome back “Dad”, and for Will to be able to share this moment with them!

He truly has amazed me over the past three days, and I could not ask for a nicer guy to have spent this journey with. Day 1 I gave him advice on hydration and nutrition, on day 2 I got my own words thrown back at me, and day 3 we just ran! That is the beauty of multi-stage trail running, and that is exactly why we do this! Sharing such experiences with friends is priceless, and the war stories we have to tell at our next few braai’s will make the memories linger even longer.

To all involved with the weekend, Stillwater Sport, Stillwater Trail Running, Newsport Media, ProNutro, New Balance and all the other sponsors involved, thank you so much! The effort and passion you put into SA trail running is appreciated by all!

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