My running career seems to have reached a new level because, for the first time ever, I've entered the new year fitter than the last. As such I was super excited to hit the trail in the first race of the Cape Summer Trail Series in order to put my December training to the test.
Trail running in South Africa is growing gaining popularity and with more of my friend group taking it up, it means more people to run with and a hell of a lot more time on the trails. But an afternoon jaunt with a mate doesn’t really compare to racing and my competitive juices were overflowing by the time I broke out of the starting gate.
Knowing I will never challenge for a podium finish (I am a mid-field runner and happy with that), I had other goals in mind as I "sped" out of the blocks. If I beat more than half the field I will have improved on most of my Winter Series results and that will make all the training over the festive season well worth it.
That’s the great thing about running, it doesn’t matter if you are professional or a weekend warrior, everyone has a personal best that needs to be beaten.
The pace was quick as the field made use of the gentle start to proceedings in Silvermine, but that slowed down considerably when we hit the first climb of the day, a brutal single-track that forced us into a lumbering chain of humanity, sweating – and cursing – every step of the way.
Wildrunner races are never easy. I expect tough climbs and plenty of single track but hell, it was particularly worth it when Simon’s Town and the ocean came into view. I took some time to take it in, knowing that once I descended the awaiting single track the only view I would have was of my feet and those of the person in front of me.
Technical downhills have never been my forte, and while I am starting to improve on that front, I am still held back by visions of curbing myself on a boulder or snapping an ankle in an ugly fall, and as such I lost a fair bit of time over this stretch. The fact that the remainder of the run was dominated by undulating single track and some pretty mean technical sections, meant a slower pace than I would have liked.
But despite me resembling a hippo on rollerblades down some of the more hair-raising sections of the track, I had a blast on the way down and figure I can cut off a lot of time if I show a bit more aggression in future. So, time for me to throw caution to the wind on the next race – in Grabouw on Sunday – and start hammering the rough stuff.
Despite me being a total wuss on the downhill I still managed to achieve my goal of finishing ahead of more than half the other runners, coming in at 95 out of 220 runners in a time of 1:42:31.
Hell, I will take that! Bring on race two!
For more information on the Cape Summer Series, visit the website.