In Part 1 of our Cell C AfricanX Trailrun race report we spoke a little about Day 1 of the 3 day event. Now that our legs and bodies have finally managed to recover it is safe to write part 2 of our experience at one of South Africa’s most well organised and fun trail running events.
Cell C AfricanX Trailrun Race Report Day 2
Day 2 welcomed us with much warmer weather than the previous day. Admittedly we would have preferred the rain as the 34km route on day 2 would take us through some of the hottest valleys in the Grabouw area. As is customary on Day 2 of the Cell C AfricanX the route started off with the brutal climb up the old wagon trail next to Sir Lowry’s Pass.
After the smooth running of Day 1 the technical and demanding trails on Day 2 can be heartbreaking, especially since we started the stage with 36km’s still in our legs from the previous day. We broke the stage up into ‘bite-size’ blocks and hoped that would give us a mental edge over the route. Once at the top of the old wagon trail we were greeted by the pristine views and beautiful single track that has made Grabouw a MTB mecca. Running through the forests was so blissful we almost forgot the heat. Almost.
Heading past the big dam at the Grabouw Country Club off came the shoes and socks for a seriously needed swim to cool off. Temperatures were soaring to the high 30’s without any wind and we were starting to take strain. After the swim though our spirits lifted and we pushed on. We had heard how tough Day 2 was but we really didn’t realise just how tough it would be. If you plan on running in 2017 the best piece of advice we can give is take it easy on Day 1, save your legs for the climbs and technical sections on Day 2. It really is a brutal route. Just when you think you are nearing the finish with 10km to go the route throws one last big climb at you. Any energy you had left up to this point will be drained by that final climb but the views are so worth it.
Once you have reached the top of the last climb it is basically a 5km downhill to the finish line, careful though cause you can see it for quite a while so it might take longer than you expect. Unfortunately on that downhill I tweaked my knee a little and had to hobble the last 2 or so km’s to the finish line. Not starting Day 3 looked to be an unfortunate possibility but for now, back at Houw Hoek Inn, it was all about eating and swimming. The difference in atmosphere between the evenings on Day 1 and Day 2 is massive. On the first night runners eat, catch up and head to bed. On the second evening after the bulk of the tough running behind those still left running the nerves settle and a party usually begins. After 2 days of grueling trail running I think they have earned the right to let their hair down a little.
Cell C AfricanX Trailrun Race Report Day 3
After 70km’s of trail running over 2 days a shorter day of 24km on Day 3 was waiting for the runners still in the race. It was a tough call to make but after a bit of strapping up of my knee I decided to start the day and hoped it would hold out. The 3rd and final day started at the Wildekrans Wine Estate for the first time in the AfricanX’s running and what a fantastic change it was. A 10km loop of the Wine Estate on sublime single track was just what our tired bodies needed to get into a rhythm for the rest of the stage.
The cooler weather of Day 1 with some light rain joined us again on Day 3. After the intense heat on Day 2 all the runners were very grateful for this. Unfortunately my knee wasn’t having any of it and after 10km’s I had to withdraw. So desperately close to the finish line but the possibility of a serious injury was very likely. It is always a tough call to make, you feel so weak and a little like a failure but sometimes a DNF is the wisest thing. Especially since it is a 2 person team event I felt very bad for bailing on my partner but thankfully she went on like a trojan and finished strong.
Will I be back in 2017? You can most certainly be sure of that! 3 days of the most amazing running through Overberg and Grabouw areas. The food. The people. The trails. The views. The vibe. The support. The Cell C AfricanX has the best of everything and it is definitely an event worth adding to your race calendar for 2017. With the support of Cell C and ASICS South Africa it can only get better.
For more info even check out there website here: http://www.stillwatersports.com/event/africanx-trailrun/