Tuesday, June 30, 2009

On the African X Trail

- Tracy Swanepoel -

Last month six Zwartberg Club runners – Sandy Bower, Brian Modra, Tracy Swanepoel, Juliana Van der Westhuizen, Maruschka Erasmus and Steffi Rohrbach – ran the African X trail run.

The ‘African X’ is a three-day trail race based in Kleinmond near Cape Town. It covers 90km in legs of 24kms, 44kms and 22 kms. The race is made up of some serious steep climbs and descents.

We were nervous and excited about the race; firstly because of the uncertainty of running through rugged terrain but also because we were unsure of the distance. We lined up on day one. In comparison to us the other trail runners around us were looking pretty elite: knee high ski pants, fingerless gloves, trail running shoes, GU- nutrition and camel packs. But from the moment we hit the trail we were thrilled. It would take me hours to describe the three wonderful days that we had running along the Kleinmond coast. We traversed mountain trails and jeep tracks, ran through the forest, through fynbos and protea fields, along the beach and passed lagoons. The weather during the three days of running was perfect making the run a truly memorable experience. The elite runners raced flat out but the majority of the runners enjoyed the trail running and the scenery.

The race formation was cloverleaf, which meant that we returned to the same finish each day. We ran in teams of two per team: Brian and Tracy were team 333 ‘Gin and Tonic’, Sandy and Juliana were the Jewels: Priceless and Precious and Maruschka and Steffi were team ‘Short Squared’. Each runner was responsible for their team partner: to stick together and help each other.

The organisers and the sponsors, ProNutro and New Balance, had covered all the details to make it a ‘well-run’ event. The nutritional support, first aid, physiotherapy, marshals and trail markers were great. Maruschka can give more explicit details about the ‘Medic’ who doctored her blistered feet at the end of each day; they seemed to emerge out of the Medical tent after dark each evening. Juliana made sure she ran with her own personal physiotherapist and Steffi spent all her pocket money on bananas. As always Zwartberg Runners had the support of the Prince Albert Police force. Hannes Van der Westhuizen made an excellent team manager and spent hours nursing his Windhoek Laager as he waited for us at the finish each day. Thank you, Hannes.

Well done everyone. How about next year?

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