There seems to be a completely different mindset when it comes to trail as opposed to running on tar. Well at least with me; I cannot see myself running for 50km on tar but I can on trail.
So when I won an entry to the Three Peaks Challenge Competition there was no hesitation, besides I knew that there was going to be a lot of walking :O
There I was, huddled together with 100+ other trail runners at 5am on a perfect morning, posing for a photograph. My 3:30am wake up a thing of the past and the upcoming 8-9hr run about to form part of legend.
Then suddenly, off we were sent with me trying to get my Endomondo app running on my phone and staying with the group, one day I am going to trip over someone, lol.
It was quite dark and a few early morning party goers were still about – some of whom enquired of our madness.
Three Peaks is just that; a run up 3 very respectful peaks. Normally people would only start the three separate peaks higher up where there was no tar to cover. In this race we started right down at the bottom and had to find our way up, sometimes weaving through people in the streets and sometimes dashing across the road until we made it to the trail sections.
Kitted out with 500ml water in my backpack and two 600ml bottles with BioGen CarboGen and Caffe Latte Hammer Nutrition Perpetuem mix I was all very eager.
The first peak went by nice and quick. The weather was cool with some mist and/or low cloud, break through that was amazing – suddenly there was an ocean of white cloud that we had clambered out of that allowed only the higher peaks to present themselves as markers of what was to come. At the beacon I was blown away as at every other refreshment station and check point by the high spirits and awesome array of treats for us to consume from jelly babies, and nuts to potatoes, oranges and coca cola and much more – I never expected anything like that.
Table Mountain Maclear’s Beacon
Arriving back at Inn on the Square after a seriously steep descent I pulled out my tog bag and munched on an energy bar, replaced my bottles with new ones. I saw a few people run up with just a single bottle but I figure that I am not in this to win it so weight is not that much of an issue; enjoyment is. With that in mind I planned my nutrition to keep myself happy. On the first leg I had a bottle of BioGen CarboGen which was the remained of what I had been sipping away at during the morning and a bottle of BioGen CytoPro RS (idle for 3+ hour races). On the second leg The bottles I had waiting for me were a Caffe Latte Hammer Nutrition Perpetuem mix and one with two tablets of Endurolytes Fizz. After a few hours that Endurolytes Fizz (Mango Flavour) tasted like the elixir of life.
Setting off after a few minutes rest I managed to follow some chaps all the way back up towards Deer park Drive only to loose them and get lost – but only for a while – I found another runner and followed her through what she said was a shorter way – nice.
Then all of a sudden I was a Platteklip and again it was filled with people appropriately dressed for drinks on Camp’s Bay rather than a hike up Table Mountain. ha ha ha.
The hike up to the top of Platteklip Gorge had a few running moments but not too many least my heart leap out of my chest, slap me a few time and scream at me to stop it before settling back into it’s place to hammer more blood to my aching muscles. I gotta do more training on the Mountain. The view from above was spectacular with the clouds once again laying out a spread of while candy floss. After a brief moment of appreciation it was time to run all the way along the top of Table Mountain to Maclear’s Beacon where I had myself a good old rest and picnic, lovely.
The Trip down was not nice; down does not always mean fast. Finally I got back to Tafelberg Road and I was able to open up a little and do some real running all the way back to Green Market Square.
Mixing up a new set of bottles; 1 with BioGen Cytopro RS and 1 with Hammer Nutrition Perpetuem Caffe Latte and munching down some raisins I set off. Seeing a runner in the distance I tried to follow, however after a few turn in the now crowded streets I lost him; oops and I forgot to consult my map. The route I was to take was hinged on getting to the German School which I was no longer sure about. Quickly I made a phone call to my lovely wife, but fortunately I was passed by another runner who I chose to follow, phew. At this point I still had enough energy to keep going and no cramps and no turned ankles – thank you God for answering the prayers of my Community Group.
By the time we got to the German School (now quite busy with some or other fare) we were a group of 4, yet somehow we managed to take the wrong trail that go us cutting through some shrubbery and lots of dried out branches. The one thing I noticed during this part was the number of bottles laying strewn about; I ask you with tears in my eyes “Why” – why do people do that, surely it is less effort to throw the bottles away in a bin or even better a recycle bin for glass than to fling them into down into the vegetation, it’s disrespectful and malicious.
Anyway we made it up to the checkpoint and started up Lion’s Head which was a lot more easy than the rest, a little bit of walking was required and I did pause for breath on the steeper sections. When I got to the top the realization of what I had done was starting to dawn on me, I almost had a moment but being I guy I suppressed it and moved on. At the top I had a little picnic, again munching on the treasures of sustenance afforded to us at the check points.
Now it was onward to the finish; down I went, down down down all the way to Inn on the Square where I reported my number and reflected on what I had done. WOW.
This was an amazing race in all respects. First for being drawn to win a confirmed entry to the race – I never would have considered it otherwise. Second for running in an awesome environment in perfect conditions. Third for running the longest distance ever, previous was the 37km Crazy Table Mountain Challenge so this one beats it by almost 13kms (and being a marathon and an ultra at that). And forth – my goodness if I had paid for an entry I would have scored back twice over besides the experience, The finishers shirt and trophy more than made up for the cost, and the refreshments and snacks were awesome.
Thanks for a great run, I will most certainly be back next year – better trained and more experienced.
Below is the Map, but if you want the gpx file let me know, I will be more than happy to share, only bear in mind that there are a few GPS errors going up Platteklip.