On a sweltering hot night in Johannesburg we, like many others, descended on the Jackal Creek Golf Estate for a trail run. This is the second time I’ve been to the Golf Estate for a run, the previous time I wasn’t too keen but I decided to support the better half in her fitness endeavours and do the right thing.
The Jackal Creek run was an ideal opportunity to get my brand new Puma Faas 300 TR camo’s out and test them on the terrain they were intended for. They retail at about R 1899 but as anyone worth their salt will tell you, always wear the right shoes for any sport to prevent silly injuries. There’s an image of these handsome shoes further down.
As a football player I cover a minimum of 4km per game of indoor and thought there isn’t much to it. Especially since we tend to sprint a lot and this is just a jog. Let’s put that idea to rest immediately. It doesn’t matter how fit you are at one sport, the overlap is minimal and trail running deserves respect, even at short distances.
The previous time I encouraged Maggi and motivated her to keep moving even when the steep incline tried to persuade me that this was a bad idea. I think I fooled myself into thinking I’ve got this 4km trail run thing in my pocket because our pace was a slow-ish 10 minutes per km and we stopped frequently to walk some of the steeper inclines. Something you quickly forget afterwards.
My mindset on my return was positive. I was going to show this course who is boss. To be honest I was probably fooling myself if I thought I would smash the course as I was just back from 4 weeks of flu which had caused me to miss the run in November. Nevermind, that’s not important, I lined up with another 100 or so short course runners and we started at a furious pace. Dirk, Taryn and myself worked our way past many of the runners who started in front of us. The darkness making the slightly damp golf course treacherous underfoot. The conditions did not bother us at all as we powered ahead at a fast pace.
Our pace was good, 5:17 for the second kilometer, Dirk mentioned. Shortly after my lungs were on fire and mouth dry. I desperately needed some water to rinse my mouth. I decided I should walk a little while I try find inspiration to forge ahead. My calves also wanted some motivation to keep pushing and the hills just kept on coming.
There was a moment when I thought this was the dumbest idea ever but it passed quickly when I found a water point around the 3km mark. I considered drinking every last drop in the 25 liter drum but the clock was ticking and I had a time in mind I wanted to beat. Over the road and into the night with a cup of water over my head to help me cool down a little.
I was still walking but walking fast and determined up the hills, I thought, and gently jogging down the other sides. The problem is the route to the finish is practically all uphill and the downs became few and far between. I think it’s safe to say the final 500m were all one long hill but I’d walked enough.
I’d been passed enough. I’d had a conversation with a guy who passed me who told me he had been drinking all day before the run at his office party. I’d had enough. Suck it up son. I couldn’t be beaten by this guy, I put my head down and powered up the hill, my “on-board computer” stopping at 30:12 when I crossed the finish line.
Yes, I passed him. How could you doubt me? I even told him we should meet at the finish for a cold one. I never heard his reply but hope he made it to the finish too. Official timing registered slightly longer but I’m sticking with my Bryton here. I’m somewhat annoyed I didn’t break 30 minutes when I think we were probably on target for a 25 minute run but that’s life for you.
I need to get healthy again before running another trail run but it’s a fun experience, take some friends with you. Support or competition make it fun and it’s short enough to go for a celebration after too. Then when you think you’ve got this 4km thing down, step up to the 8km run.