Race Report: Chrissie Viljoen – 2018 Houtkapper 15km Trail

The Houtkapper Trail Run is hosted in Goudveld, an old mining town in the lush afromontane forests of the Garden Route National Park. This popular hide-away is 22 kilometres from Knysna, nestled in the lower slopes of the Outeniqua Mountains the area has a magnificent variety of fynbos, birds, amphibians, reptiles and mammal species.

A beautiful winter’s morning greeted all the runners at the starting venue of Quinta da Montanha in Rheenendal.  For a change, we could sleep in a little on race morning, as only the Homtini Pass separates the venue from our home.  

As the gun went off, all the runners were jostling for a good position. The first kilometre was on gravel roads, before tackling the tough Woodcutter hiking trail.  After the race, I wasn’t sure if it was a good or bad thing that I didn’t know what to expect! The climbing started abruptly and it felt like there was never going to be an end to it.  There was no way I could run all of it and tried to keep momentum by power walking some of the steeper sections.

I have been struggling with a stress fracture in my right foot, so the past month I have done ONE full hour of run training. 😊  Strange how cycling and swim training really doesn’t convert into run training at all.  Really struggled to breathe and nearly tripped over tree roots a couple of times.
A girl with a cross country running vest past me just as we neared the summit of the climb, then had to stop to fasten her shoe laces.  I decided to push hard in the next section to increase the gap to her, as I hoped it would be a case of ‘out of sight, out of mind’.

After the long climb, there was a bit of a respite on a downhill section to the first water point.  At that point, I was still leading the ladies race, but it would be short-lived. On the next single-track section through the Circles in a Forest hiking trail, a different lady came breezing by me, looking very fit and fresh as I was puffing like a steam train (eish!).  Tried to stick with her for a bit but realised that I had to run my own race according to my strengths and especially weaknesses.

Another kilometre or so later, I heard another girl approaching from behind, but put my head down and decided not to look around.  The tactics seemed to have worked as the footsteps behind me fell further away.
The scenery of the run was breath-taking and I really want to go back for a hike to truly drink it in.

The last bit of the run was downhill back to the race venue. Being used to longer endurance events, it almost felt like cheating only competing for just over an hour and a half.
Was really pleased to finish 2nd lady and 9th overall on the day.

So thankful to be healthy enough to compete and when it is in such a beautiful environment, it makes it even more special.  In the end it is not about where you finish, but knowing that you have done your best.

Houtkapper 15km Results:

Nanette Evenhuis      1:31

Chrissie Viljoen          1:34

Misha Teasdale 1:36

Photo credits: Thank you, Deidre Cloete, for the lovely photographs!

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