Weather to Run

Comrades on Trail

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Umgeni River Run
2012, Inanda Dam to Maweni, 11 August

Standing on
the banks of the Inanda Dam in the Umgeni River Valley, with my friends Lora
Hirst and Beverley Davey, I see only 25 runners waiting with me at the start of
what they unofficially call the “Comrades ‘Up Run’ on Trail.” I’m seriously
wondering what I’ve gotten myself into! We set out, heading for Nagle Dam, and
the first section is a mixture of good dirt road, jeep track and single track. We’re
just settling into a comfortable pace, despite going up a really tough climb,
when we realise we haven’t seen a route marker for a good few kays! Turning
around, we retrace our steps till we find the turn we managed to overlook –
this is not the day to be doing extra kays!

 

As we set
off from the third water table, just before halfway, we’re immediately faced
with the steepest climb of the day, roughly 5.5km to the top, and so steep in
parts I find it easier to walk backwards, or use my hands to claw my way up. Nagle
Dam eventually appears, but we have to navigate a tricky descent to reach it.
The water looks inviting, as it’s starting to get humid in the valley. The
route follows a well-worn cattle path, and in the distance is the dam wall that
we need to cross to enter into Cumberland Nature Reserve.

 

At the
wall we discover we’re going under the dam rather than over it! The tunnel is
only wide enough for a single runner at a time and water pours in through the
walls. That had us sprinting! Once safely through, we’re in the reserve, and it’s
here that we see a huge snake sunning itself on the side of the road – luckily it
disappears into a hole as we approach.

 

The
remaining section takes us through private sugarcane farms, and then the finish
banner is just visible through the fading light. We’ve done it, smiling and
proud, having run through the most remote areas in the valley without seeing
another person for ages, let alone another runner. But this is why I love trail
running. To run in such unspoilt surroundings, with friends who love this sport
as much as I do, is the best way to spend any day!

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