Dodo Trail Mauritius: 2018 Race Recap

Our lives aren’t measured in days but in moments. So don’t wait for them, go out and make them.

A few months ago Mr 5 asked how come I have so many medals and he has only a few. I told him it was because I like to run races. Right there he decided that he will run races too. So when Nico got about entering him and I for the Dodo on Mauritius, I suggested we sign the boys up too. And then we’d have to wait for race day to see if they actually wanted to do it, because heaven knows today and tomorrow are worlds apart when you are 5 or 7! Continue reading “Dodo Trail Mauritius: 2018 Race Recap”

Ultra Fiord 50K Race Report

The sun started to rise just before we passed lake Pehoe in the Torres del Pain National Park. It was one of the most beautiful sunrises I have ever witnessed in my life, through probably the dirtiest bus windows ever. Oh the irony! It left me no choice but to take in the beauty rather than to try to photograph it. The soft early light turned the cloudy sky all hues of oranges and pinks, setting off the majestic Paine Cuernos (horns) in the most extravagant way possible. Continue reading “Ultra Fiord 50K Race Report”

Ultra Fiord 70 km: Nico’s Race Report

“It was #$%^ed up” was the first words by Riana when she came home. It was around 2 am the morning after she finished second in her age group at the 2018 Ultra Fiord  50 km event. “This is more than just a trail run, its pure survival out there”. We are in Patagonia where the forests are dense, the wind wilder and alpine conditions start at 600 m above sea level.

Patagonia, land of fjords, forests, snow capped mountains and extreme weather.

In her mind she pleaded with me not to do my event two days later, but never voiced it. I went on to do 55 km of the 70 km event and endured extreme physical exhaustion, drugged-like hallucinations of snake-type creatures and lurking Lord of the Ring-type trees and of course extreme cold, lashing wind and blinding snow atop some really hard going mountain passes.

On Chucabuco, the first pass of the 70 km route.

Now, after being home for a couple of weeks, I think the immensity of the race, the welcoming nature of the Chilean people and the enormous task of putting an event like this together is probably sinking in. Although both Riana and I need some time to reflect on Patagonia and Ultra Fiord 2018, I look back at those silver lined mountains, the immense beauty of the thick forests, the continuous slogging through the mud and the eery stillness while enduring the night, with a huge sense of achievement. To be able to be part of a race that captivates the human spirit in its rawest form, is something that is hard to explain. A race that epitomises our very existence on this beautiful planet.

This race is not a trail run, it was never meant to be. Patagonia pleads with you in its forests, on its mountain passes and through its mud that clings to your being. It pleads – “share me”. But that’s hard. Its hard to share the immensity of the place with anyone that’s not been there. Hard to share the wind howling in my ears as the snow drift slams into my face. My wooden hands unsure if they are still grasping my last trekking pole after the first broke some way down – somewhere in the mud. The mud. Hard to share the mud. Sinking in to my waist, wondering if my shoes are still on my feet. What to do if a shoe stays behind?  Mud that filled my shoes, my socks, my existence. Unending, relentless mud.

Figure. Running parts of the forested sections on the 70 km route. Source.

Hard to share the feeling that there is no escape in the race. Once you start, you have to endure to the end. Stay mentally and physically strong. On ascending to El Passo (our highest pass) the wind picked up and with it came the snow. Waves of freezing snow drift that whitened the vertical rock-strewn gully. My headlight pierced the damp dark and I forced my fatigued body up towards the probing, bobbing cocoons of headlights far above. Just get up and get down – up and down – up and down I kept repeating to myself. It was late at night, with a very long way to go still. And on the other side of the mountain pass the snow had turned into ice. My second and last trekking pole snapped and I had to slide much of the way down. Slide walk fall, repeat.

Me descending the first pass on the 70 km route. Source.

At last I reached the snow line and went straight back into the mud. Trees huddled in knee deep mud lined the track. My headlight catches reflections of the route beacons, or is it other runners? Hallucinations set in and I jump when the roots start to move. Sliding from tree to tree without my poles – grasping at branches, at leaves, at anything. How do I share that feeling of being utterly alone, cold and fatigued in some of the remotest parts of the planet. My emotions run wild, I run walk stop sit rest and walk again. Or did I just sleep while sitting? Sharing the moments of this race, the immensity of it all is hard. But needs to be uttered. Patagonia has an inhospitable beauty that needs to be shared.

At last seeing the glowing, floating ball of light on the road. The tent at 55 km. Extreme relief overwhelms me and I know that the only way of sharing this race, the only way of sharing Patagonia is to be grateful for her. Grateful that a place of such beauty and surreal wilderness still exist on our planet. Grateful that I have been able to run, slide and survive Patagonia.

My Love and I in Puerto Natales after our individual races.

Marathon Du Mont-Blanc: DNF and Other Things Unexpected

Sitting on a low step in front of Église Saint-Michel, I had a limited view of more than 2000 pairs of legs and shoes around me. How many thousands of kilometers did these feet cover before they could stand there. How many hours, how many sacrifices had to be made? I thought about my own training log of a few hundred kilometers since January. Would it be enough? Would my hundreds of hill repeats see me through? I was feeling strangely calm. Like more of a spectator than a participant. Not in an arrogant kind of way, but in a fearful way.

Continue reading “Marathon Du Mont-Blanc: DNF and Other Things Unexpected”

Otter African Trail Run: Retto Challlenge 2016 race report.

It has been more than 6 weeks since I completed the Otter African Trail Challenge, but to date I have not been able to get this race report out. Sure this draft has been sitting in my computer for 5 weeks now, but as per usual, I find it incredibly hard to pen down words to aptly describe a life altering experience such as the one that was The Otter. My usual flirtations with the same old three or four adjectives all look shallow and nondescript when I reread this; not at all reflective of what I carried away from this experience. Continue reading “Otter African Trail Run: Retto Challlenge 2016 race report.”

2016 SkyRun 100km race report

Sky run runners

Nico’s big race, the long awaited SkyRun 100km took place this past weekend. The race started in Lady Grey and crossed a section of the South African Witteberg mountain range to finish at the Wartrail Country Club. The SkyRun is considered by many athletes as the toughest trail run in Africa, as it is a self-navigated, self-supported race in a very remote and rugged setting, with roughly 4500m of altitude gain and loss. There are a number of peaks that need to be crossed with mandatory gear, mandatory medical checkups and strict cutoffs times that apply. Total time cutoff is 32 hours, with a 15 hour cutoff  to the 60km mark, the only place where seconds and supporters could meet and assist their runners. Continue reading “2016 SkyRun 100km race report”

Windhoek Light Wild Trail 2016 race report: That time I had to take a nap in a grocery store parking lot.

After running the amazingly fun Avis Xtrail (link) in Windhoek a couple of weeks ago, I decided to enter the Windhoek Light Wild Trail scheduled for Sunday 7 August. My dearest, generous Hubs suggested I take some solo girl time for this trip, while he stayed home with the boys. They are tough like that! (and me a little less so…)

Continue reading “Windhoek Light Wild Trail 2016 race report: That time I had to take a nap in a grocery store parking lot.”