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Run The ‘Burg

1st – 2nd October

Run The Berg is a 50km stage race that runs over two days, each day consisting of 25km. It takes place in the Northern Drakensberg region near Mont Aux Sources.

I participated in the race last year and it was my first major trail race in South Africa and I finished 3rd. Naturally going into this years’ edition a big goal of mine was to improve my time, realistically I thought a 20 minute improvement would be in my reach.

Day 1 played to my strengths with big climbs and fast, technical descents. I started slowly, not wanting to burn all my matches before the 7km long climb reaching roughly 2200m above sea level. Within the first 3km’s I worked my way from 4th to 2nd place. I kept the leader, Marcelle Coetzee, in sight. As the ridge got steeper and the air got thinner, I started to draw nearer to her. On the steepest section of the climb I passed her, claiming Queen of the Mountain at the first checkpoint. On the ridge I managed to extend the gap ever so slightly, there was one more peak to summit at roughly 10km and I knew I would have to dig deep to extend my lead, so I did!

runtheberg
Having had worked hard on the climbs I was ready to reward myself to some slightly reckless descending on some hefty technical sections (the gradient was so steep in sections that ropes were set for safety precautions).
16km to the finish consisted of undulating single track, I found my stride and cruised to the finish keeping in mind that I had to repeat the effort the next day. I finished Day1 in 2.56 hours, 4 minutes faster than last years’ leader and 20 minutes faster than my own time of last year.

Day 2 was the faster of the two days, consisting of only 700m of elevation gain, fast non-technical trails and Jeep tracks. I had an 8 minute lead over Marcelle but having raced against her before and lost to her in 2/2 occasions, I knew just how speedy she was! She pushed the pace, from the start and I just about managed to stay within roughly 200m of her. There was one small (compared to day 1 small but in a general sense rather big) mountain where I managed to pass Marcelle but we met up once on the flat(ish) section. I let her get ahead by a few 100m again but pushed myself hard to not let the gap grow any bigger. The last 5km consisted of rolling hills, which felt like mountains with the amount of lactic acid in my legs, I got closer and closer to Marcelle with every footfall, with roughly 3km to the finish I passed her and pushed up the last long and steady climb to finish Day2 in first place.

RTB2

I extended my lead to 10 minutes of second place and 30 minutes of third place. My combined time was 19 minutes faster than last years winner, the legendary Tracey Zunckel who is a big inspiration to me, and 40 minutes faster than my own time of last year, which would’ve placed me 4th this year.

My own improvements mean more than the win to me. I’ve been training hard the past year and it’s the most rewarding feeling seeing how I’ve gained strength, I still have plenty of areas to work on and I’m extremely excited about the years to come, but I’m headed in the right direction and loving absolutely every step of it!

I ran in my new inov 8 trail talons. A stage race is the last place you want issues with your feet and luckily I had no such problems! The grip was ideal for day 1, especially on the slippery granite. I didn’t have a single blister or hotspot leading into day two and finished the race with just as happy feet.

I feel like the luckiest person in the world to be living out my passion and travelling to some of the most beautiful places in the country. A massive thank you to all the sponsors for helping the process along!

Results:
Day1 winner, 8 minute lead.
Day1 Queen Of The Mountain.
Day2 winner, 2 minute lead.
Overall win, 10 minute lead.
Top 10 including men (9th).

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