Trail-run­ning me­mo­ries ma­de

Knysna-Plett Herald - - Sport -

It was a trail-run­ning ex­pe­rien­ce no­ne of the 600 par­ti­ci­pa­ting athle­tes will e­ver f­or­get. The 4km pris­ti­ne unspoi­lt be­ach be­t­ween Buf­fa­lo Bay and B­ren­ton-on-Sea is one of the most beau­ti­ful stret­ches of co­as­t­li­ne in the wor­ld and it was ne­ver mo­re spec­ta­cu­lar­ly dis­play­ed than it was on Tu­es­day mor­ning, Ju­ly 11 as the as­sem­bled par­ti­ci­pants ga­zed out a­cross the beau­ti­ful blue wa­ters of the bay and tried to en­visa­ge the sce­ne of ter­ror from just 34 days e­ar­lier.

Cut off from the rest of the wor­ld by a wall of fla­mes, the re­si­dents of B­ren­ton-on-Sea had a­bando­ned their ho­mes and fled al­ong that sa­me be­ach to­wards re­fu­ge at Buf­fa­lo Bay, in the dark, with their pets and on­ly w­hat t­hey could car­ry in their arms. Two days la­ter the in­cre­di­ble sce­ne was re­ver­sed as the a­va­ri­ci­ous in­fer­no laid sie­ge to the ham­let of Buf­fa­lo Bay and it was the turn of tho­se re­si­dents to run back al­ong the be­ach to the sa­fe­ty of B­ren­ton.

In the se­re­ne s­par­kling stil­l­ness of Tu­es­day mor­ning such sce­nes we­re al­most u­ni­ma­gi­na­ble and the mood a­mong tho­se gat­he­red on the be­ach was dif­fe­rent. Ma­ny of tho­se sa­me as­sem­bled run­ners had lost their ho­mes and just a­bout e­ver­y­thing t­hey o­w­ned to the fi­res, and their li­ves are still far from nor­mal. Ma­ny we­re still in shock. But the fe­ar was go­ne and in its pla­ce was an un­de­ni­a­ble fee­ling of re­ne­wal, new be­gin­nings and e­ven joy. A­gainst that back­ground one of the most e­mo­ti­o­nal­ly char­ged count­do­wns to the start of a trail run took pla­ce and the be­ach was the sce­ne of joyous e­ner­gy as hund­reds of run­ners struck out in the di­recti­on of Knys­na ab­so­lu­te­ly re­vel­ling in the bre­ath-ta­king beau­ty.

The Fe­at­her­bed Trail Run is the of­fi­ci­al trail run of the Pick n Pay Knys­na Oys­ter Fe­s­ti­val and o­ver the last ni­ne y­e­ars it has e­t­ched it­self in­to the he­arts of trail run­ners and fes­ti­val­goers na­ti­on­wi­de. On the eve of its 10th birt­hday it sud­den­ly look­ed as if this buc­ket-list e­vent was not to be. With 90% of the be­lo­ved trails af­fected by the fi­res and sig­ni­fi­cant en­vi­ron­men­tal, in­fra­struc­tu­ral and sa­fe­ty con­cerns, the or­ga­ni­sers we­re for­ced to con­si­der can­cel­ling the w­ho­le e­vent. It was the ti­me­ly in­ter­ven­ti­on of Bayport Fi­nan­ci­al Ser­vi­ces, which e­na­bled Mag­ne­tic South to re­rou­te the en­ti­re cour­se and yet still pre­ser­ve its u­ni­que­ly Knys­na fla­vour and es­sen­ti­al bond to the Fe­at­her­bed Com­pa­ny. Na­med the Fe­at­her­bed Trail Run Bayport P­hoe­nix e­di­ti­on, it was a one-of-a-kind trail run and tur­ned out to be one of the most me­mo­ra­ble e­ver.

Three rou­tes of dif­fe­rent dis­tan­ces we­re en­joy­ed: 11km, 15km and the new 21km dis­tan­ce. All the cour­ses star­ted in Buf­fa­lo Bay and fi­nis­hed in the Crui­se Café. Par­ti­ci­pants we­re tax­ied from the Crui­se Café ve­nue hub to the start. Alt­hough the three rou­tes took dif­fe­rent me­an­ders to­wards the fi­nish li­ne t­hey e­ach tre­a­ted par­ti­ci­pants to spec­ta­cu­lar swee­ping vis­tas of the bay and the la­goon whi­le tra­ver­sing so­be­ring sig­hts of the ruins of burnt hou­ses and scor­ched fo­rest a­re­as. De­spi­te the de­structi­on the sce­nes we­re still do­mi­na­ted by the a­re­as of na­tu­ral beau­ty, and ma­ny par­ti­ci­pants hai­led the e­vent as the be­st e­ver.

At the pri­ze-gi­ving, Bayport COO John Whi­te ex­plai­ned that the com­pa­ny’s in­vol­vement was to be a part of the sti­mu­la­ti­on of re­gro­wth es­sen­ti­al to the pe­op­le of Knys­na, fis­cal­ly but al­so men­tal­ly and spi­ri­tu­al­ly.

“Our bu­si­ness is one of e­na­ble­ment and that is why this e­vent, at this ti­me, re­so­na­ted with us as it a­ligns with our co­re bu­si­ness et­hos of chan­ging li­ves.”

Bayport’s in­vol­vement in the Fe­at­her­bed Trail Run P­hoe­nix E­di­ti­on e­na­bled the e­vent to rai­se R65 000, which will go to fi­re-re­la­ted cha­ri­ties.

The 11km men’s ra­ce was won by Jar­ryd Cook in 44:44 clo­se­ly fol­lo­wed by A­vi­we Ki­na­na and Nat­han M­cCa­be. Lau­ren Can­non clai­med the wo­man’s ra­ce in 52:22 just a mi­nu­te a­he­ad of Ca­na Peek who be­at Han­dri Dal­ton for se­cond.

The mo­re techni­cal­ly chal­len­ging 15km ra­ce was clai­med in 1:11:49 by Big5 Athle­te Kee­gan Cook who put just 37 se­conds in­to Ross Welsh, him­self ha­ving his hands full in hol­ding off Mi­cha­el Can­non, al­so of the Big 5, by 13 se­conds. Vic­ky van der Mer­we mixed it up with the top men of the 15km ra­ce, sei­zing fifth o­ver­all in 1:19:46 a­he­ad of fel­low Big 5 con­ten­ders Ka­te Dodds and Fie­nie Bar­nard, who cros­sed the li­ne in 1:23 and 1:26 re­specti­ve­ly.

The very tough inau­gu­ral 21km Gre­at Whi­te S­hark ra­ce was won by no­ne ot­her than Knys­na’s own Me­lik­ha­ya M­si­zi, who ran 8 mi­nu­tes cle­ar of S­haun G­re­go­ry. The lat­ter pos­ted 1:48:55, with the ot­her pla­ce on the po­di­um going to lo­cal hard­man Mar­sel Roos in 1:52:03. Mi­chel­le van Zyl was in a class of her own in the wo­men’s 21km de­spi­te gre­at runs by Tam­my Stark and Nic­ky Mills. Van Zyl’s win­ning ti­me was 2:07:25 whi­le Stark and Mills fol­lo­wed in 2:25:01 and 2:25:11. – Sup­p­lied

* See full re­sults at www.oys­ter.e­vents

P­ho­to: Sup­p­lied

Win­ners of the Fe­at­her­bed Trail run.

Run­ners gat­her­ing for the Fe­at­her­bed Trail Run.

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