Rob Peters has found the perfect way to kick-start his Sunday mornings this winter in Cape Town with the Cape Winter Trail Series, which kicked off this past weekend.
A couple of years ago, you would never have found me lacing up a pair of running shoes on a winter’s morning as I prepared to hit the trail with a couple of hundred fellow competitors. More likely, I would be in bed or, at a push, in front of the TV as I recovered from the night before.
I loathed running. I told myself I was not built for it, didn’t have the stamina and was better suited for short bursts of energy, rather than hauling my body across 10km of asphalt, jeep-track or grass trails.
Yet last year at the Wild Run (a three-day trail race through the Transkei) I discovered that while I may not be challenging for a podium finish, I can actually get my body to play ball for long enough to complete a run of over 40km. Not only that, I also discovered that I actually enjoy doing it.
So cue my decision to enter the Winter Trail Series in Cape Town, a series made up of four trail runs around the Western Cape, organised by the same guys who are responsible for the Wild Run (to date, the best event I have taken part in). Like the Wild Run, the series is sponsored by adidas, who I acknowledge in introducing me to the joys of trail running.
For a guy like me – essentially one without a built-in GPS – the Trail Series is perfect, providing me with the route, as well as like-minded people who can guide me out of the wilderness when I inevitably get lost…
Offering a long and a short route for every race in the series, the event is ideal for everyone – from kids and novices, to grand masters. Me? I like to think I now fall somewhere in between.
This past Sunday saw the first race in the 2011 Winter Series kicking off at the Tygeberg Nature Reserve, a 10.6km jaunt that, while not overly technical, certainly had its fair share of climbing.
To be honest, as I am still a relative newcomer to trail running, I am never one to seek out routes that require much in the way of skill – think of a baby giraffe in roller blades and you will get a picture of me running through single-track sections – so this first race in the series was a nice warm-up for the remaining runs, which will undoubtedly be more challenging.
But don’t let the relatively short distance, and lack of demanding technical sections, fool you. There were some challenges – none less so than the sting in the tail that saw me – and the competitors around me – muttering some dark words as we attempted to keep our breakfasts down.
Of course, a big climb generally means a big downhill, and the reward for trudging to the top was a mad scramble down the tar road to the finish line.
All-in-all, I was reasonably happy with my performance in the first race of the series, but I reckon I have to lift my game considerably for next time, particularly after watching a 12-year-old cheerfully saunter past me at one point on Sunday…
The fact that he was quickly followed by about five of his mates only served to humiliate me further…
Work commitments will mean I cannot take part in the second race in the series – in Grabouw – but I will be back in business for the 14km run in the Paarl Rock Nature Reserve, which, judging by the location, is sure to throw out some more rigorous testing of my limited skills.
Bring it on…
For more information on the Trail Series events, visit their website: www.trailseries.co.za