Golden Gate Challenge pre-race day

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It is with heartfelt thanks to Run Ride Dive and Golden Gate Challenge (www.wildseries.co.za/) that I find myself sitting on my camp chair, looking at the tented runner camp, in the campsite at the Golden Gate National Park ahead of this three day trail run.

I’m feeling old. Not old in age but also like I’ve been around for a long time. I’ve also been out of events for almost two years. Time that has flown but also seems aeons ago. I think the last event i took part in (aside from last year’s rogaine) was the Mount Moodie 80km in about Feb 2016… Around about now marks 18 years since I did my first trail run – Skyrun.

I don’t recognise any runners. Back in the day when events were few and trail running was fringe, events were an occasion to get together with friends from all over. I may see people here that I know (two past Forest Runners recognised me) but for the most it will be an opportunity to make new friends.

This area is magnificent. I have driven through Golden Gate twice but have yet to set foot on the trails.

I am very impressed with the setup. Andrew Booth is the organiser and his event has been going for around seven years. It has a good reputation and it is easy to see why.

I have a pretty blue two-man tent (one person per tent) on the far side from the main event area and tent. Quiet. The tents have mattresses. I brough along a sheet, my sleeping bag and a pillow. Nice and easy. All meals, from dinner tonight to Sunday morning breakfast, are provided.

At registration we received a fleece top, a goodie bag with a Wildlands magazine and a water bottle and hand towel from TimeFrieght. Coincidentally I’m in the process of signing up with them for long-distance deliveries of my YOLO Compost Tumblers. Their rates look good.

I have a new prized possession. This soft, light, reusable plastic cup made by Ultimate Direction. It is called a speed cup. May it give me speed! Well done Golden Gate Challenge.

I packed my kit yesterday. That made me feel old too. My favourite trail backpack is 15 years old. I’ve had or tried others but this old one remains my favourite. I use it most days when I run with Rusty as i cip her on to the waist belt. It has seen a lot of action.

My favourite running tops – tried and tested – have at least five years in them. My socks and shoes are probably the newest items at 18 months to a year old. Safe, comfortable and proven.

I have no aspirations for this race. Three days of running at 27km, 29km and 17km respectively. And after each day, I get to write. Two of my favourite things combined.

Have I done enough training for the distances and mountain climbing that this event entails? Hahaha – how much is enough? I’m fit, healthy and so totally keen. I haven’t got much distance in my legs but this is certainly not a deviation from the norm. I just hope my body loves and laps up the distances like it always has. Day after day of running has always suited me.

I’m very excited to be here and to be taking part. I’ve needed this and the opportunity to be here is very welcome. I feel like I used to so many years ago before events were dime-a-dozen. The anticipation of what lies ahead, scenery, terrain, comraderie and a day spent on my feet.

Tonight I look forward to a good, long sleep. More hours in a stretch than I’ve been getting. And tomorrow: day 1 of the Golden Gate Challenge. My camera is ready and my backpack is set. Until then.

 DAY 1

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