My goal this year was to better my past 2 previous results, coming 2nd place in 2016 (13hrs:31min) and 1st place in 2017 (12hrs:58min) and, of course, to challenge the record. With a goal like this, my preparations prior to the event had to be on point. My training included high mileage, quality endurance, strength training and racing fitness, all of which went well - I felt ready for the hardest race in South Africa.
The drive to Lady Grey with a couple of friends on a Friday morning was energising, as we were welcomed by the electrifying atmosphere at the Lady Grey Country Club. After the registration was done, dinner was served and the race briefing complete, the nerves, excitement and fear began to wash over me. Racing gear - check, running shoes - check, hydration pack – check: I was all ready for the big day and it was time to catch 40 winks. I woke up at 2:30am and, as usual, prayed to the Almighty God for guidance and strength to handle the day ahead. This was followed by a light breakfast as I geared up into my K-Way Knox Shorts, Moisture Manager T-shirt and Saucony Mad River Trail Shoes - a great combination when you will be on the mountains for more than 12hrs. I was ready for the tough, long day that awaited. As usual, there was a magnificent vibe at the start thanks to the Pure Adventure Team. 4am - the race started and my body was not responding well. I battled to get into to my rhythm as we headed up to the 1st checkpoint, but I finally began to feel better after 5km, moving more confidently as I passed the 1st checkpoint, leading the race. Honestly, I still need to get my navigation skills in check as I went off the route a few times and ended up stranded on the cliff between CP1 and CP2, which ended up costing me +/- 5min. Fortunately, at that early stage, it did not cause too much harm and I quickly managed to get back to the correct route. This time, I was in 3rd place behind Bradley Claase and AJ Calitz, who were in the lead for the 65km. I took the lead once again just before CP2 and I never looked back from there onwards, proceeding through CP3, CP4, CP5 and eventually getting to CP6 (Balloch).
Thanks to all the medics and volunteers at the Check Points! Every time I approached the CP, I began to feel like a human again, as I knew I would have someone to talk with - it can get lonely on that harsh terrain all by yourself.
As I arrived at Balloch, I was welcomed by everyone there while getting a quick medical check-up. I was given the green light to proceed, so I grabbed my nutrition from my crew team, filled my hydration pack and off I went. I didn’t have a good feeling as I left because I knew that the brutal Wall was right up ahead, waiting for me. Some of the pressure was relieved just before I reached the wall, as I received an alert letting me know that I was 40 minutes ahead. The wheels began to fall off as I got to the top of the Wall. The exceptionally dry conditions and heat became too extreme for me and my run turned into more of a walk. I ended up drinking way too much and suffered from stomach cramps, but I soldiered on and I'm glad that I managed all the way to the finish line without one person catching up to me. The most painful distance I had ever run in my entire life was the section from CP7 to Bridal Pass, all the way to the Turn and then to Halstone.
Seeing the finish area within +/- 1km to go was a huge relief. Hearing the voice of the legend, Raasbekkie, felt like a great accomplishment as I finally crossed the line of the 100km, becoming 2019 K-Way Skyrun’s 100km Champion. Although I didn’t achieve my aimed goal for the day, I was super stoked with the win and knew that I gave my absolute best.
A huge thank you to my K-Way SA Team, who were there to support us all the way. Congratulations to my teammates, AJ Calitz, for winning the 65km and Nicolette Griffioen for winning the 38km. Thank you to the Pure Adventure Team, medical team, farm owners, volunteers and anyone else involved for a well-organized event. To my crew of the day, Rethabile and Plantine, thank you. And to everyone who conquered the harsh and brutal 38km, 65km and 100km routes: we are all the Champions!