By the time
my accommodation was confirmed in Knysna, entries for the half marathon had
already closed, so I was unable to enter the Big 5 officially, but I contacted
the organisers and they suggested I enter all the other events individually,
and thus I still got to be part of the Big 5 vibe.
Day 1: 80km MTB Race
What a magnificent day in the forest. My first official mountain
bike race was pure bliss! Technically treacherous downhills, long climbs, mud,
drifts, bridge crossings, mini rock-gardens and the occasional drop-off – I was
amazed to stay upright through it all, and my legs had never really felt
anything like this before.
Day 2: 100km Road Bike Race
Terrain-wise, the route from Knysna to Sedgefield and back
was just up my alley: Big, long, rolling hills for basically the entire
distance made for an ultra-challenging ride. The previous day’s mountain bike
race provided extra muscular ‘lactate’ burn, making this my most intense bike
race this year.
Day 3: 14km Trail Run
The Featherbed Trail Run started on the Western Head of the
lagoon and wound steeply up along the headland, then came down just as steeply. Beautiful scenery en-route, with some short zippy climbs, meant the
14km passed super quickly and an enjoyable time out in
Mother Nature was had by all.
Day 4: 5km Fun Run
With a scheduled rest day in the Big 5 programme, I thought it a good
opportunity to run the Knysna Marathon Club’s 5km Development Run. I ran a
solid target time, and next was XTERRA. I couldn’t wait!
Day 5: XTERRA
I knew my first full XTERRA (3km run, 23km MTB, 7km run)
would be tough, but nothing could have prepared me for that sloshy bike leg. Once inside the forest, it was one messy hippo slide, and the
general consensus was, “Never seen so much mud in my
life!” Hands down the toughest event of the Big 5, but spectacularly scenic
Day 6: 22km Paddle
With Friday being another Big 5 rest day, I decided to turn this Knysna
experience into a ‘Big 6.’ The previous Sunday I had
chosen the 100km road bike over the 22km paddle, even though paddling is my
favourite, so with my GPS-enabled surfski, I
circled the Waterfront area, then headed upstream into an amazingly tranquil
estuary, flanked by steep cliffs and the hazy green
. Phantom Forest
Eventually the river meandered to a point too shallow for my surfski, so I
returned to my launch point, clocking exactly 22.5km.
Knysna Day 7: 25km Forest Run
Not being able to run the half marathon, at 8am I strapped on my GPS and set
out for the Phantom Pass for my own 21km run. I’ve seldom experienced so many
different shades of cooling greens as the road meandered upwards, and the views
at the top (8km) were sensational. At the scheduled turn-point at 10.5km, I
still felt good, so I decided it would be a 25km run.
The week in Knysna was tough, yet memorable, because I
thrive on outdoor physical challenges, just me and the natural elements. So until
we meet again, Knysna!