ProNutro AfricanX Trail Run presented
by New Balance, Boland, 20-22 April
Stage 1: 32km, 793m ascent
wet conditions of the day before gave way to a beautiful morning in the
Overberg and the warm banter of excited runners. What followed was 15km that
disappeared in a blur as we headed through some neat single track and forest
plantations. Then the switchbacks up towards Paul Cluver Wine Estate brought
about the odd enforced walk. After all, three days and 88km in total lay ahead.
A little game spotting in the lands behind Paul Cluver even had me ready to see
if a local Bontebok was going to make me the next Youtube sensation!
Just as the
finish tones came into earshot, Dr Evil 2, aka Race Director Nicola Collins,
swung us up one last climb above the race village, and while we may have been
bleak at the ‘detour,’ the reward was an amazing view of Houw Hoek and the
Stage 2: 31.8km, 1041m ascent
bus trip over Sir Lowry’s Pass set the scene on what was to come; a return trip
over the Hottentots-Holland on plenty of single track. The early morning rays
of sun coming over the Hottentots underscored the beauty of False Bay as we
climbed ‘Magic Mountain.’ Finally we strode to the base of the historic Gamtouw
ox wagon pass, scarred by hundreds of Voortrekker wagons dragged over the mountain,
and my wife reminded us that if ‘tanie in her ou kappie’ could have crossed
this pass, then best we kept moving.
Once over the
pass, the trail opened up into some magnificent sandy single trail, an endless
roller-coaster with countless switchbacks. By the time we passed the final
water point, my show pony wife and I were making our way up through the field.
Perhaps it was the sweet smell of the Brandy on the brew at the finish at Oude
Molen in Grabouw. A prized run through the distillery past the fermentation
tanks to the welcoming finish line was the ultimate ending.
Stage 3: 24km, 750m ascent
day started stiff and laboured. And that was just the trip to the Bokomo
Breakfast Zone! The media chopper kept us company as the sea of colourful
runners climbed from the beautiful blue gum-encapsulated Paul Cluver Amphitheatre,
through the fruit orchards towards Oak Valley. Throughout the field, dodgy
knees creaked, ITBs twanged and quads cramped as legs braked. Downhills were no
longer friends or reasons to let loose, and instead were approached one tender
stride at a time.
2 had described day three’s contours along the Groenlandberg as rolling hills.
Clearly dear Nicki has never been to the Free State… THOSE are rolling hills.
The Groenlandberg is where your ISUZU gets its best value out of low range
gearing! On the plus side we were enjoying another stunner of a day, and
another fynbos overload in the varied and visually inspiring terrain. Eventually,
a bittersweet loop round the finish fields, knowing that the 88km trail was
complete. Three just perfect running days with my perfect partner at a tough
but magical event.
Big thanks everyone
from Stillwater Sports & Entertainment, the inspiring group of
commentators, the medics and masseurs and of course the sponsors without whom
events of this nature don’t reach their heights of presentation. And special
thanks to Houw Hoek and the amazing catering teams. Job well done, you all!