Winning a marathon takes a team, says Cape Town Trail victor

She may have crossed the finish line of the 46km Cape Town Trail Marathon on her own, but winner – professional trail runner and mother-of-two Landie Greyling – says it takes a team to make her wins a reality.

“When you have a family, being a mom and a professional athlete is definitely not a one-woman task. Only with a strong support structure can you achieve a goal like winning the Cape Town Trail Marathon,” Greyling said.

Together with husband Christiaan, also a decorated elite trail runner, the super athlete duo are parents to one-year-old Anzel and four-year-old Christopher.

“After Anzel was born, Christiaan and I decided we would not have any more kids. Then I knew I could start getting back to my best. I really wanted to go out there, use my talent and see what I could do at 38, but without spending a lot of time away from my kids.”

Her training has changed: she now prioritises quality over quantity. “I train smarter. My longer runs are more specific and shorter. I do two speed sessions and one hill session a week, with a trail specific session on Wednesday and one long run on a weekend.”

With the couple’s parents living outside of the Western Cape, their lack of support structure did not help them focus on races, as they had to rely on each other and babysitters. “Fortunately, Christiaan’s parents moved to the Western Cape in July and although they live some distance away, they stay with us over weekends and I don’t feel guilty for leaving the kids with them.”

Showing that ‘mom guilt’ is real, Greyling says she wants to be there for her children and spend as much with them as possible, while also pursuing her dreams. “I have been fortunate to put structures in place that allow me to train but also spend time with them and have a healthy balance.”

Outside of the family, her support team expands to professionals that keep her on the trails, from coach Ernie Grühn, biokinetist Ian Rainsford, massage therapist Francois Retief, strength training coach Ronel Nattrass and pilates instructor Suzette Van Rooyen. “Suzette has made some recommendations and tweaked my body to allow me to move more fluidly.”

“Before I had kids, I took my training for granted – you put on your shoes, go out the door and do your thing. Nowadays every single training session needs to be planned beforehand. Sometimes it’s not the training that gets me down or makes me tired, but the planning and logistics; if one person is sick or something unplanned happens, it feels that the equilibrium is out of balance, it can be difficult to move forward.”

“I never knew that it could mean so much to have people in your corner that allow you to do what you love and pursue your dreams and goals.”

With self-motivation to be the best, Greyling also hopes to be a good example to her children and the athletes she coaches and inspires. In 2017, she and Christiaan started Alpasfit training academy with a handful of athletes and now have more than 100 under their wing, doing everything trail running and adventure related. “We like to help ordinary people to achieve their best and help them to change their lives. Alpasfit means breaking free from the old into the new.”

This year, under Christiaan’s guidance, Alpasfit started working towards a development running academy. “We try to create opportunities for development trail runners to race across the country, providing everything from running shoes to entries, accommodation, physio and massage services, to help them be the trail athlete they can be. There’s a lot of funding needed for it and we are working towards getting corporate sponsors on board.”

As to what comes next for Greyling, she said that having achieved her goal of winning the Cape Town Marathon, she is now taking time off. But, ever the competitor, finished with a hint – or a threat to her competition: “There might be a last-minute entry into Ultra Trail Cape Town,” she said.

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