Monday, 14 September 2009

Crazy Store Table Mountain Challenge 2009

Hats off to the organisers, a great race with a few highs and one really low point. I managed to remove 1h37 off my finish time, my wife who was doing the relay managed to catch me up and ran we ran most of the last leg together.

Leg 1 (Kloof nek parking to below Kings Block house) seemed to pass really quickly I was really zoned out or in, but when I was checked-in I felt strong.

Leg 2 (Stile below Kings Block house to Constantia Nek) was also thankfully uneventful I was really careful not to trip and damage myself. I sped up on the leg and shaved about 20 minutes of my time. I began seeing people who started too fast having their race fall apart.

Running into Constantia Nek was great. I always get a great feeling to see expectation on people's faces. Similar to the arrivals at an airport (as portrayed in the movie "Love Actually"). Everyone looking to see if you are their relay team mate or significant other. My significant other gave me my hydration pack and a blue berry muffin. I did not spend much time at the change over point and continued on through the check point.

Leg 3 (Constantia Nek back to Kloof nek parking) soon after entering the Orange Kloof I started to slow down and began to remember that hill from last year. A friend of mine Jeff caught me up and (dropped to like I was looking for parking). Keeping a slow but steady pace I continued.

Then the worst thing happened. I was running behind someone who just a heart attack just before the climb up to Hout Bay corner. I felt really helpless, someone called the race emergeny number and we unclipped his hydration pack off his chest. We moved him into the path and there was no pulse. Someone started CPR. I never felt so helpless not being about to do anything, ran to one call on of the marshals. A grim prospect for someone in a fancy dress outfit, armed only with a hard hat, sunglasses and a cell phone. There is nothing that much that they could do. The sound of air filling his lungs will stay with me for a while.

Looking back I could see that more and more people were gathering around him so continued up to Hout Bay corner. When I reached the top of Hout Bay corner the wail of the ambulance echoed off the cliff face. I heard that people did CPR for a long time. A while after that as fatigue and pain set the focus swung to completing the race.

At Llandudno my wife caught me up and journeyed with me on the top of the back table until the finish. She could have done a much better time but I am glad we spend the time together. I managed to finish far stronger than last year; mentally I can stay out longer without falling apart. Just a few moments after crossing the finish line I was able to contemplate running the race next year.

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Crazy Store Table Mountain Race 2009 close

In less than a week it will all be over. Until 5:50pm today I still was not 100% sure I was entered in properly. Weeks of running on Table Mountain on Saturdays. Now the hard parts of each leg seem very familiar now. I remember when running down Kasteelspoort seemed to take forever and then running on the pipe track was impossible.

Last week I managed to damage myself less than 400m from the end landing on some hardcore pine roots exposed by erosion. I made sure when I ran there yesterday I stuck to the right hand side of the path on the pipe track the whole way. The scabs and bruising is healing nicely. It did make me more careful when running yesterday.
Although I am less fit than last year I feel more confident than last year I definitely have done more training on the route. Anything can happen on the day either way it will be great fun it has been so far.

Last year was very hot with no wind but this is Cape Town and weather on Table Mountain is even more unpredictable. Yesterday we started running later in the morning and it is amazing how different just a few extra degrees can change things.

My race goals are simple to have an official finish time, not be caught sitting on a rock on TV and finish before the battery in my Garmin 305 gives out.

Monday, 13 April 2009

Two Oceans as a spectator/supporter

Not getting an entry in time was a tough lesson to learn. At least I now have my Safari half marathon organised in time. That left me with the choice of either doing an illegal swop entry or being a supported.

Having never noticed that running existed until I started a few years ago it was interesting. It was great seeing people I know being surprised by how soon or late in the race I saw them. Seeing the elite athletes was also a great to watch even if it was just a few moments. How someone can make up such a big gave in a race was incredible.

It was not all that boring being an active supporter with running shoes I managed to run along side some fellow club mates, who in many cases where running quite strong at that point. It was great to be able to do it like that as I assumed that if I was supporting I would always be injured.

Saturday just increased my resolve to pony up for full 56km race next year. Most people except for the ones right at the back looked as if they where enjoying themselves. All the people I ran with that where not have much complaints even if they where feeling sore.

Surfers Challenge East London

Most places in South Africa have a big race, Cape Town has Two Oceans, Durban has Comrades, PE has Iron Man, the list goes one and then you get to the East London and you get the Surfers Challenge. Having only started running in Cape Town I wanted to do my hometown race when I finally got the chance. They also do things differently in East London for instance the start time is at 3pm.

The race was an education. Some cultures have seven different words for snow, well now I know of many types of sand. Powder sand, heavy grain, heavier grain, shale, shale with pebbles, and the list goes on when you add moisture content, density and how many people have run on it before you.

I have never had to concentrate so hard not to fall and hurt myself especially in the pebble, shale and boulder sections. With over 2654 people running the vibe was really chilled. Strong headwind the whole way and drizzle in parts. The drizzle was great because it stopped the sand getting caught in the wind and stinging the legs. The race consists of about 4km of pure tar magic and rest was sand, stone and water or a mixture of the three.

The river crossings were an interesting novelty. Swimming in your shoes is hard work. I can see why triathlons do the swim first; I had no blood in the arms. My wife asked one of the lifeguards to give her a push because she felt she was being pushed up river. He told her that she had reached a point where she could stand. She stood up only to discover the water level was below her knees! My sister was on hand to give us dry shoes after the first river crossing just before we got onto the tar; time spent changing shoes really helped later on.

Never under estimate the power of a limited-edition t-shirt. After I finished I walked back and managed to get my wife going faster when I saw her near the finish. I said something to the effect of "You see that girl in front of you she is not going to get a finishing t-shirt." That was what she needed to speed up I have never seen her run that fast as she ploughed through scores of people in front of her.

As many SCEL entrants will tell you from experience this a “must do” race!

Saturday, 10 January 2009

Noordhoek Peak Run

In December we ran on with others up to Noordhoek Peak and back. I must confess there was lots of walking involved. We started at the top of Swaanswyk Road and did few meanders to the top of the road.

I learned the important lesson of “ALWAYS stick with the person who has the keys to your car”.

Running up towards Elephant's eyeView of Hout Bay
Noordhoek Peak CairnSmall Lions Head
Noordhoek Beach