A Big Rest After Comrades

A Birthday Present to Remember

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PRONUTRO AFRICANX TRAIL RUN, 7- 9 MAY, KLEINMOND
The ProNutro AfricanX Trail Run takes a clover leaf format, with a return to
the same base in Kleinmond each evening. Stage distances are 25km, 43km and 22km respectively and the terrain varies from beach running to spectacular hidden single track high in the Kogelberg Mountains, interlinked with horse trails, jeep track and a few stretches of hard-pack roads. Kathleen McQuaide-Little of Team Modern Athlete CAPESTORM shares her race experience.



Buying birthday presents for your spouse can be very challenging – or maybe not! My clever husband, Ian Little, offered me an entry to the ProNutro AfricanX Trail Run, and how could I refuse? Spending three days in the mountains on trails meandering through some of the most beautiful areas in South Africa has got to be one of the best presents on offer.


Ian was teaming up with his Cape Odyssey running partner, Viv Williams, aka THE MACHINE and World Triathlon Champ in her age group! Whilst their goals included a podium position, I just wanted to have fun, enjoy the beautiful surrounds and remain uninjured so that I could take part in my fifth Comrades three weeks after the event.


As I work at the Sports Science Institute of SA, finding a race partner was fairly easy and I managed to rope in a regular training partner, Malcolm Collins of UCT Exercise Science and Sports Medicine. We secured CAPESTORM as our clothing sponsor and ran under the team name of Modern Athlete CAPESTORM. 


A SHAKY START
With stormy weather severely damaging the race village, the start of the race was delayed until midday on Friday.


After registration and the race briefing, the buses took us to the start 25km away from the race village in Kleinmond. The pent up energy of 242 teams of runners was tangible and we were relieved to finally get running! It was a pretty impressive start line – which included previous race winners, world class adventure racers and triathletes, not to mention nine-time Comrades winner, Bruce Fordyce. He teamed up with his brother and they arrived wearing hideous fleecy tops, which they wore the whole first day. Needless to say they won the worst-dressed team hands down! Considering I’ve always been incredibly inspired by Bruce Fordyce’s Comrades achievements, it was pretty special having him in the field.


DAY ONE
We started day one, which had 538m of climbing, with some beach running. Then we headed through the Kogelberg Biosphere and up into the mountains where we were faced with a 6km stretch of single track. The final stretch was a 7km footpath along the ocean sometimes on boardwalks and other times on very soft deep sand. We were very happy to cross the finish line after just over three hours, since we were dead keen to put our feet up and to start recovering for day two, which was 43km and 886m of climbing!


After chilling out in the race village we attended prize-giving. The camaraderie that develops in a multi-stage race was clearly evident. With pride I watched Ian and Viv take second place on the Mixed
Vet podium!


DAY TWO
Day two dawned with breathtakingly beautiful red skies; however this was just a warning for what lay ahead in less than 24 hours! After stretching our legs out on 4km of easy running through Kleinmond, we headed onto a further 4km of jeep track before the challenge of the day lay ahead for me: 5.4km single track along the beautiful Palmiet River. But when you have to watch every foot placement, the views are somewhat more limited.


After falling quite hard I was shaken and decided to stand aside and let all the runners on my tail go past me (sorry Malcolm). I just could not bear the pressure of hearing their feet right on my ankles. Once the field was clear my spirits lifted as I trundled along at my own pressure free pace. I was incredibly relieved to get back onto stony jeep track – albeit to tackle the climb of the day, and of the event! This was my type of challenge. It was hot, tough and long but it was also incredibly beautiful and I could now appreciate the views. What’s more, Malcolm and I reeled in all those I had let past and more. 


On the descent Malcolm and I felt strong and ready for whatever was thrown at us. Perhaps it was the phenomenal views that fuelled us, although the well-equipped refreshment stations did their bit too. On top of this we had Malcolm’s wife, Judy, and their cute daughter, Amy, giving us the most vocal support of all!


With 5km to go, we were faced with the final climb of the day. Much to the amazement of those around us, Malcolm and I ran up most of the hill. On the descent we got into top gear and before long approached the finishing straight.


WHAT A SURPRISE!
Imagine our surprise when the race announcer, Paul Velstar, cheered us in as the third Mixed Vet couple! We looked at each other in amazement and were certain he had made a mistake, since we were placed eighth in this category on day one! Ian was there to meet me and he was so proud of our achievement!
He and Viv had annihilated their competition and not only won the mixed vet section on day two, but were now overall leaders of their category.


My very good friends, Sue Ullyett and Mark Wagenheim, (the Ocean Basket Sole Mates) were placed second, so it was a very special day for us to share the podium together. After prize giving we were informed that 100km gale force winds and serious rains were predicted for day three, but assuming they were wrong, we were all set for what lay ahead in the final stage.


DISAPPOINTMENT
After a fairly sleepless night, the predictions indeed became a reality. The day three leg was cancelled.
It was a huge disappointment. However, safety comes first.


We proudly received our finishers’ t-shirts and medals at prize-giving a week later, the very necessary ‘closure’ we needed! Even though our running was curtailed by Mother Nature it was a stunning event and one that I would definitely like to do again next year.


Well done Michael Meyer and his team at Stillwater Sport and Entertainment for this wonderful, accessible trail run. I would recommend it to anyone. I returned to work revived and restored. Mission accomplished!


For more info on the next event and entries visit
www.stillwatersports.com.

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