Sunday, April 21, 2013

Over the Hills

The brief was simple; 3 days, 90km, the men's veteran category (old men's race) at the Pronutro African X trail run. My partner, the mountain goat Dion Middelkoop, had chosen me as replacement for a rock rabbit who was probably a vet (over 40) but his two passports told different stories. So I was in, albeit as a late replacement, giving Dion the opportunity (in his words) for some nice 'long sunday runs'. 

I'd trained like a demon, so had Dion, with identical March mileage of 525km and lots of hills. He's also more talented, and as this was a pairs race, it would be the weaker partner who would determine the outcome. We had the bad luck story of last year as our main opposition. Noel and Derrick who had led all the way to the final day before injury hit and a win became a hard to take loss. 

The leaders gunning it on day 3

The racing was fast from the start and that should have suited me, but my good times in the US have been on the road or the more manicured American trail. Day 1 was 33km, day 2 similar and day 3 a fast 24km. We saw some beautiful parts of Grabouw, on single track, wine farms, rolling hills, zebra, and a lot of the backs of Noel and Derrick. Dion was patient, he never complained, despite our disparity in abilities and speed. 

Dion had time to run ahead and take photos!

We flew day 1, we lost by 4 minutes. Day 2 was for the rock rabbits, we lost another 14 minutes, but had a ball running over the old wagon trail and into the stunning MTB single tracks of Grabouw, it was proper trail running. Day 3 was a roadies day, but with hills, again should have suited me. N and D put another 10 minutes into us. It's very hard to be disappointed with three second places and second overall, and I'm not, but boy do I want to come back and race again. Running for Team Contego and being competitive got my blood pumping and left me wanting more. African X isn't the most technical trail race, or the longest, but it is the most fun, and ensures everyone has a blast. 

Happy it's over and we held onto 2nd overall

Thanks to Dion, Team Contego (Fast Eddie), Stillwater, all the supporters especially Lee-Ann Harris, and the runners, who made it an awesome 3 days back in Africa.