Why I ditched the Comrades for an epic trail run
but struggled so much that he vowed never to do it again. So now he trains for trails on his farm near Kimberley, where his runs double as a fence- and wind-pumpinspection routine.
Another runner said his small frame meant he would not be strong enough to be a winner on the road, but he negotiated rocky terrain perfectly. As a child, he used to play in the fields and hills near GaRankuwa, and later trained with his uncle, a Comrades runner, on the mountain paths. He did some road races – but after his first trail race, he was hooked.
My first time on a trail happened from a mixture of curiosity and peer pressure about three years ago. One of my friends knew of a spare entry in the Otter Trail Run – a race that covered the whole 40-odd kilometres of the multiday hiking trail in a single day. I was sold from the moment we crossed the start line at Storms River, just as the sunrise coloured the sea spray pink.
For two years, I did some of my training runs for the Comrades in Johannesburg’s parks and public gardens. The added charm of having a dog as my regular running partner now means the park is where we roam.
These days, road running feels like slavery, worse than eating broccoli.
Introducing us to the Richtersveld Wildrun™ this week, Roland Vorwerk, himself a runner from Boundless Southern Africa, an organisation promoting transfrontier parks, said trail running was a primal thing. “You feel it at lots of levels, from the soles of your feet to your heart.”
So it is that inviting landscapes now make my feet ache with anticipation, my skin tingle at the thought of the sun and the wind, and my nose itch with the prospect of smelling its plants and animals.
There is no other way to feel both so small and so free.
Trail running beats road running by many a country mile