Race Report: Brian Gardner: van Gaalen Trail Run

It was time again for the annual van Gaalen trail run. Another great event right on my door step and on my “home trails”. Despite my rather low training mileage in the last few months, I still decided to do the 35km. The race attracted some top trail running names, including Jock Green, Thabang Madiba, Ryno Griesel and Mazu Ndandani, as well as Nicolette Griffioen in the ladies 35km race.

The normal fast start by everyone saw me off the back of the lead group, which included Ryno, Jock and Thabang. I pushed the first climb up “Sky Lodge” track, and almost caught Ryno again, but he then got away on the downhill to the first waterpoint. I had a lonely run all the way from there, didn’t see a sole… A big section of the 35km race traverses a large farm south of Hartebeeshoek Satellite Road, the entire section is not part of the normal van Gaalen trail network, and only used once a year for this race. That section was spectacular, with awesome little kloofs and rocky trails, it was a real privilege to run there!

I tried to just keep a consistent pace, but was running out of steam even before the big Revenge and Pofadder climbs. A gel and Jungle Bar sorted me out a bit, enough to keep a fair rhythm up. Coming down from the top of Pofadder hurt, my knees taking the most strain! (Note to self: maybe more downhill training would help!) Thankfully managed to hold it together and run all the way to the finish, albeit slower than I’d hoped… All considered, quite happy with how it went. Finished 6th overall in the end, behind some of the best trail runners in SA, in a time of 3 hours 43 minutes. Well done to Thabang, who took the win in 3 hours 6 minutes.

A big shout out to the whole Team at van Gaalen’s for putting on a superb race, and most certainly one of the toughest 35km trail run races close to Gauteng. As always, a massive thanks to Nevarest and Keyhealth for the continued support!