The Winter Trail Challenge 2015 race series hosted by KZN Trail Running started off with the Maweni trail run just outside Pietermaritzburg on the 16th May 2015. The race starts from the Maweni Trail Centre, and there were two distance options, either a 7km or 14km event. With the Comrades Marathon only 2 weeks away, I decided to do the 14km event, but to take it really easy and use it as a training run.
The weather on race morning was chilly and overcast, pretty much perfect running conditions. Around 100 people lined up for the start of the 14km event, and at precisely 7:36am the race started and we set off. The pace was pretty quick up front, and for the first 1.5km the course followed a jeep track slightly downhill, which turned out to be a good warm-up for the first climb of the day, a 100m climb up steep single track. Fortunately it was only 700m long, but my calves really felt it, must be too much road running recently. With Comrades in mind, I walked the hill, and once we reached the top, the trail flattened out again. The views from the top over the Umgeni river were spectacular, I almost tripped over rocks a couple of times being too busy admiring the scenery.
What goes up must come down, and a steep decent back off the hill followed, leading back to the start line after around 5km into the race. A small climb through the sugar cane, a sharp descent, and some paved farm road led us to the Faulklands Farm house (where race 3 of the series starts). Another small climb led to the start of the valley top single track at 8km in, which runs along the edge of the Umgeni valley. I really love this section, fast, flowing, rocky in places, and mostly downhill. Unfortunately it ends after just 3km, and the climbing starts again.
My legs were feeling a little tired at this point, probably from fairly heavy (for me) training the last few weeks, so I took it really easy up the climb (around 90m over 2km), walking the steep bits and jogging the flat bits. once at the top, there is another nice downhill single track section for about 1km, so I put the hammer down and just had fun flying down the hill. Then some gentle rolling trail through the forest back to the trail centre and the finish line.
The final course distance was 15.1km according to my Garmin, and my final time was 1:33:45, which I was quite happy with having taken it fairly easy and walked most of the hills. My final position was 32nd overall, the race being won by road speedster Jonathan Edwards in 1:02:43, with Keren Worlock winning the ladies race in 1:16:11.
My legs felt more tired than the should have, so I decided to really cut back training over the next two weeks to make sure I’m 100% ready for Comrades.
Shoes: New Balance 1210v2 Leadville
Hydration system: Salomon S-Lab 12l 2014