I’ve been looking forward to the Captain Carrot Trail Race (#2 in the Rabbit Trail Series from My Road Less Travelled) since the Nogwaga run at Ezemvelo back on 10 May. Remember the 8km that magically became a 11km? This one was a trail run that turned into a bush-whacking session (that’s bundu-bashing to you ZAers). There is never a dull moment on the Rabbit Trail Series. I think Nina creates good trails that have a variety of terrain and are challenging without being soul-destroying (e.g. Spur Winter Series #4 Leeuwenkloof). In addition, the event was well organized and had a more intimate, friendly feel than the races I’ve been to recently.
My Garmin measured the short course at 7.1kms and 212m of climbing. At about 4.5km, after the hike up to the highest point on the short course (1609m), we were running through thick bush single file and I started laughing. I started having flashbacks to high-school x-c ski season when, bored with training, a friend and I would set off into the woods, bush-whacking on cross-country skis. We ended up in gullies, streams, tripped up, falling down, and generally just exploring the great outdoors, it was wonderful! And so was this course.
I’m always relieved when the toughest part of the trail is over during the first half, allowing the rest of the run to be relatively easy. But never doubt, this was a truly technical trail, and more fun for the scrabbling, bundu-bashing, getting lost, finding the way, and eventually a long tar downhill back to the finish. Also, spot prize of a bottle of Gentle Giant red wine makes me a winner, no matter where I place. Nina/MRLT always has great prizes, including a balloon safari (which I didn’t win, but there’s always the next race).
I think it was around 5oC when we arrived in Ingwe Bush Lodge around 7:10am- so brrrrrrr. I wanted to wear cropped tights because the weather has been warmer once the sun is up; this was not a good choice. The scrub was dense and a lot of all of the trail was ungroomed. It made it a bit of a challenge to follow the marking tape, and I ended up off trail, but not critically, a few times (Strava fly-bys shows the long course was a lot worse). My brush-cut shins were relatively minor, but those wearing shorts had it much worse, pretty much everyone had a cut somewhere by the time they finished. Those worst affected (both were on the long course) received a small medical kit during spot-prize giving. My long-sleeved top, which I had tied around by waist, got caught on thorn bushes more than once, and I even fell, tripped around the ankle by what I think was barbed-wire. But my Tabata training/mountain climbers saved me! I was a little sad that the course wasn’t a full 8km, since I have been training for it, but I’m thankful that on a course this challenging it was a bit shorter.
I was so busy avoiding the giant rocks that someone had left in the game trail that I never did see any game en route. Though hazy, the views were stunning, but I was too focused on my feet to get a good look. However, after finishing the run and waiting for friends to finish, we finally got our game sighting. Just through the bush, a herd of giraffe were seen thundering across the field below us. It was totally awesome!
And just a quick note coming out of the Spur Trail Series, vegetarian options next to the boerewors is always welcome.
Since the Nogwaja/Ezemvelo Run this series has increased in popularity. There were 157 running the long distance and 138 on the short distance. By comparison, the Nogwaja run had 67 in the short distance and 41 in the long distance.
- Long course (18.6km) Male: Eddie Sesipi, 01:49:10. Female: Nicky Booyens, 01:50:40.
- Short course (7.1km) Male: Henco Erasmus, 00:40:04. Female: Elzani Smith, 00:47:25.
- Me: My official result was 1:08:35, 34th female and 6th female veteran. I think I was 79th overall, but I never can tell by the way racetime.co.za lists the results.
I really had to stay focused on this run. There weren’t a lot of wide open spaces or even open track, and I was either looking down at where my feet were going or ducking and dodging to avoid low-hanging branches. I’ve been meditating more over the past few weeks as part of my training and I do believe it created a bit of mental steadiness, allowing any frustrations at getting lost or having to dodge rocks and branches easier to cope with.
I’m definitely looking forward to the next in the series, the Scrub Hare Run on 23 August.