Nicolette wraps up a tough 2019 with a strong finish at the Ultra Trail Cape Town

Ultra-Trail Cape Town 2019 represented more than just a race for me. After 18 months of practical work to conclude my 6-year degree, UTCT was symbolic of the light at the end of the tunnel. It fell two weeks after my final theoretical exam paper, allowing me sufficient time to relax and prepare for one last mental push for the year.

Having only run one other 100km trail race this season, I was a little apprehensive about my conditioning. For this reason, I opted for a conservative race strategy, making it easy early on and hoping to have a strong second half. Although I felt tired in the first 45km, I seemed to pick up around 50km and was able to start racing as per the plan. After dicing with Amanda Basham in 4th position between Hout Bay and Constantia, I gave a concerted effort to drop her before Alphen Trail. I managed to reach the 75km mark with a more than 10-minute lead on Amanda.

The energy I'd had running into Alphen seemed to have been left there as I suddenly reduced to a walk in the welcome shade of the forest on the way to UCT. I realised I needed to eat something more so washed down some M&Ms and tried to pick up the pace. The 3rd lady was reportedly about 20min ahead and not feeling too strong. This kept me pushing although I knew it would be a stretch for me to make up so much time given how I was feeling.

Coming into UCT I was tired but still moving consistently. I took the time to satisfy my salt craving before heading out for the final 10km. The last section of the race was uneventful, and I crossed the line in 4th position, only 9min behind 3rd place. Perhaps I could've caught her if I'd stopped less, started faster or pushed harder. But there will always be room for improvement, and I felt nothing but contentment with the way my race had panned out. It was a solid finish to a tough year!

What stood out most at UTCT 2019 was the support. All along the route, at the aid stations, at the finish line. From CPT locals to foreigners, the race organisers, photographers and other athletes - the cheer was amazing. So thank you to everyone who played their part. And finally, a massive thank you to Pierre Jordaan who seconded me along the route. I can assure you that a good crew makes the world of difference.