So the Cell C AfricanX Trailrun presented by ASICS kicked off with a bang this morning with close to 700 runners taking part in what is being dubbed, ‘The Biggest AfricanX to date.’. Runners who opted for the tent accommodation were welcomed to Houw Hoek with some light rain and strong winds throughout the night. Thankfully we are a resilient bunch and spirits were high at the start of the Stage. Plenty of smiling and laughing between friends, some even didn’t hear the start gun go off. One of the most welcome updates to the new route was the old ‘bottleneck’ being taken away. Instead of turning onto the single track in the first few kilometers, the field was able to spread out much more as we meandered through the pine trees on the forest roads. Once the singletrack started their was space to really open up the taps and enjoy it.
The route had everything. Beautifully crafted singletrack flowing through the trees, runable forest roads and some slightly demanding climbs to keep the legs honest. The bulk of the climbing and technical terrain will be on Stage 2. Many runners wisely opted to take Stage 1 easy to save the legs for tomorrow. As far as refreshment tables go we had 4 aid stations spaced out perfectly along the route, making staying hydrated very easy. The cooler weather helped a lot as well, normal Grabouw weather can be extremely hot so the light rain and cloud cover was a welcome treat.
Passing through Paul Cluver and Thandi wine farms was special as well. The willingness of the local farmers to open their land up to allow the runners to come through is one of the reasons why the event is such a success. Running trails you would not normally be allowed to win adds to the mysteriousness of the event. It almost feels like you are part of a secret club.
The runners are also what makes the event so great. There is an incredibly fun atmosphere out on the route with runners encouraging each other in low points and jumping for joy in the high points. We managed to latch onto a ‘bus’ of runners on the last 6km’s and it was a great feeling being pulled along by positive people, doing something they love.
Winding down that final singletrack descent down into Houw Hoek Inn was a great feeling, after almost 36km’s, coming through the forest you can hear the Race Announcer willing you home over the Microphone. You can smell the finish line. You can feel the high 5’s. You can taste the Fair Cape Milkshake. Before you know it you’ve crossed the line, milkshake in hand, recounting the day with your mates. Only to get up tomorrow and do it all again