Wednesday, March 13, 2013

African X with a trail legend

Long before minimalist trail shoes, GU Roctane, compression socks and even bladders, trail running was the home of a handful of 'lunatics' who, rather than hike the Cape, ran the same trails. This way PUFfeR was born and a very small number of other trails runs; Old Fishermans Trail and the Hout Bay Trail Challenge. One of the 'original' trail runners was the mountain goat (TMG) Dion Middelkoop. Dion was and still is a master of the technical stuff, an excellent road runner and a coach too.

I'm not sure Dion would appreciate my next comments. But when you meet TMG for the first time, he might come across as 'confident' to the point of arrogance. I guess when you've competed at a high level, and are still doing so into your 40's beating the youngsters, have conquered IM and almost 20 cycle tours, you are allowed a little preening. Dion also never takes running too seriously despite being intensely competitive. Check out his if you don't believe me.

So when he called saying he might be looking for a veteran partner for the 3 day African X trail race, I felt mild panic. He's faster, stronger, better on trail, better in heat. Better at every facet of trail running that I can think of. Wait, his eye sight isn't as good as mine, but it would have been if I hadn't had eye surgery! Dion said lets just have fun. But three days being dragged around Grabouw behind the mountain goat doesn't sound like much fun, until you realize that Dion doesn't do pressure, so I know he will be an understanding and forgiving partner. In the meantime I have just under 6 weeks to hone my climbing skills and also work on my speed. I have two 50k races under my belt this year with one more lined up this weekend, the Chuckanut 50k. Then a couple of 21km and a 10km which will help the speed.

Will we be competitive? That depends on the opposition (no entry published) and if I can reach up nearer to Dion's level. But we'll have fun and 3 days in the mountain with like minded souls can't be so bad, can it?