After missing the first of my two two planned trail runs for the month of February, I was very pleased to be well enough to run The Zebra Lodge 10km trail run.
We were fortunate enough to be at Zebra Lodge for a wedding on the Saturday and had booked our over night accommodation before finding out that there was a trail run at the venue on the sunday morning. The race flyer had a comment "Athletes must wear shoes!". I was curious about this and was told that sandals are fine, barefeet need protection from prickly plants.
The 10km race started a few minutes after a few people started the long course of about 18km. It was an easy start on jeep tracks, past the accommodation and across the dam. We started climbing the hill that looked worse than it felt and I was pleased with my progress and the number of people that I passed as I ran up and they walked.
When we reached the summit, we turned right and the course ran next to the perimeter fence. I don't imagine anyone, except maybe the lead 10, ran along this section. There were big rocks and sometimes long grass so you couldn't see where to place your feet. We really needed to take it easy here to avoid an accident. I was just discussing the many talents of trail runners with the gal in the photo she my sandal came loose!
This has never happened to me. The knot at the bottom of my sandal completely came off!! I am Not sure if it was worn (I doubt that it was, but I hadn't checked it before the race) or if it pulled off on the rocks. So, there was no way I could carry on without re-threading my entire sandal. Generally, this isn't a problem, I do it at home and am able to burn the end of the lace to make it hard and sharp to get thru' three holes. I sometimes even use a bobby pin to thread and pull thru the lace. So, there I was on the side of a hill with a lovely view, 5km from the start/finish line and I had to re-thread my sandal with my teeth as the only tools. All the people that I had past going up the hill, all past me going down. I was not a happy camper - I didn't want to be last!
When I got my sandal done, I was a little relieved that I could still see the last people to pass me. The others had all crested the next hill and were well gone. I set off determined to catch them up. Not 50 meters further, the right sandal came undone! I couldnt believe this was happening to me. Now I was definitely going to be last! I might even get lost! I was gonna miss the breakfast being served at the lodge! This wasn't fair! Am I supposed to wear shoes now! I started the difficult process of re-threading and tying my other sandal (there's no short cut!) I was a little relieved to hear more people approaching me - it meant I wouldn't be last. They came and went as did two other little groups of people. Now I was sure I was gonna be last! I eventually got my sandal done and even tho' I wanted to get out of there as fast as possible, the terrain made running impossible and I had to go carefully and slowly. I was again slightly buoyed when I heard two more voices behind me - I wasn't last and I wasn't gonna get lost. What felt like forever, the kilometer along the fence actually on took 30 minutes!
Getting to the bottom of the climb and seeing a Marshall was a huge relief. We were now off the border fence and on jeep track and then running thru the bush to the second water point. I could now see runners walking ahead of me which gave me something to aim for. There was also a big herd of zebra, 20 meters from me but they ran before I got my camera out. I ran and I ran and I ran and managed to pass 4 or 5 people. My garmin now measured almost 10km and I knew the end was very near.
I could see the finish at the bottom of the final long climb but I wasn't mentally prepared for the zig-zag detour to actually get there. The final distance on my watch measured 12.44. It amazed me how hard the last Kilometers are when you were expecting to be finished already.
All in all, a good trail run. I would run at this venue again with these organizers too.
My hot body and dirty feet welcomed a cool refreshing dive into the pool at the lodge, followed by a buffet breakfast!