The 4th race of the Winter Trail Challenge 2015 by KZN Trail Running took place on a chilly Wednesday evening at Giba Gorge on the 11th June 2015. There were two events on offer, a 10km route and a 5km route. The actual distances of each course are actually a bit shorter, around 8.6km for the 10km and 4.3km for the 5km course. I decided to run the 5km event, and to try and push a bit harder than usual to see how well I’ve recovered from Comrades.
The 10km event set off first, with the 5km event starting a couple minutes later, led out by Andrew Booth to guide the route for the first few hundred meters. My strategy was to try and stay with the front runners as much as possible and see how it went, but two guys went off the front at a blistering pace that I knew would not be sustainable for me, so after about 800m I slowed a bit and was passed by 2 other guys. I stuck behind them, and the three of us wound our way through the forests of Giba. Soon we started catching the second placed runner, and by the time we reached the turnaround point at the dam, we overtook him. By this point, the first guy was already around the dam and heading back, around a minute and a half ahead of us, so I knew I didn’t have much chance of catching him on the way back.
The first half of the course up the the dam was mostly gradual uphill (nothing steep or long, only around 40m vertical gain), so the way back was generally downhill, which suits me better, so I opened up a bit on the descent from the dam and passed the 3rd guy and ran behind the 2nd guy for a while, before passing him on another downhill section. Running quickly down trails in the dark with just a headlight is really fun, but a bit tricky because its hard to see potholes and rocks. From then on, I ran alone for the rest of the race, pushing hard on the downhills and keeping up the pace on the uphills. In the end I finished second by more than 2 minutes, with the winner breaking the course record. My time of 19:51 for 4.3km was pretty quick for me, and my lungs really felt it, but me legs felt good with no pain.
The mens long event was won by Craig Turton in 37:55, while his sister Robyn Krause won the ladies event in 45:19. I followed up the race with a great burger/beer special at the Giba restaurant to end off a good evening at a great trail running destination. Stave data for the event is here.
Shoes: New Balance RC1400v2
Headlamp: LED Lenser SEO5