Friday, April 19, 2013

African X'ed Day 1

Today was day 1 of the 3 day African X trail race in Grabouw, Western Cape. Almost 300 teams (of 2 runners) lined up at 8am on a cool, breezy morning. All the greyhounds were there, from 30 minute 10km runners to seasoned mountain goats. I was with a mountain goat; Dion Middelkoop, and a late replacement in the veterans category (over 40 years of age) for Dion's original partner, who Dion wasn't sure if he was 39 or 40. He would have been faster than me, and maybe even have enticed Dion out of 3rd gear and from taking photos of me on the run!

I love running. And hate it. Its unforgiving, relentless, takes no prisoners and a lot of the time defies logic. When you think you have the perfect prep, the race bites you. Sometimes it works the other way around, but not often. 

This week I'd tapered, finished off a massive month training, run a 21km personal best, and thought I was in great shape. The start, with the greyhounds, seemed pretty steady by my standards, no sub 4 min kays, just a pack of fast runners sussing each other out. We hung with them for a few kays, then a few kays with our Vets competition, then what seemed like a long slog where we had to just keep plugging away, feeling like shit! Well I did. As i said this is a team event. You have a partner, who is stronger or weaker than you. I knew the score, but hoped i could at least pull Dion out of his comfort zone once or twice. Maybe the course; undulating, no real big climbs hurt me. It was relentless and the pace was under 5 mins a kay for us all the way. That's not fast by race standards, but with trail terrain it wears away at your legs and those small hills start to hurt.

They all did today. We didn't see our category competitors after the first few kays, and for me it was just survival. I bit disappointing after such a great couple of months training, but thats the beauty of running. It's no respecter of what we want to happen.

Up front the team of Nicholas Rupanga and Kane Reilly blitzed the field with Mike Bailey and Ben Brimble staying with them until near the finish. A J Calitz and Nic De Beer were 4 minutes back. Day 2 is 30+km of more technical trail with the first 10km taking in a lot of the climbing. 

Its going to be a long day!

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