Running at a second chance

Credit: MAC MAC ULTRA

When you’re handed a second chance

Rubbing shoulders and sharing footprints with some of the best of the trail running talent in the world, on foreign turf, will soon be a ticked bucket list item for Bennie Roux.

He will also be the first South African runner to race Moab (240 miles/more than 383km) through Utah’s tough desert terrain.

Last month Bennie had his bag and passport packed, ready to charge the 400km Gobi Ultra in China. In the final hours before departure, Chinese officials cancelled this opportunity for foreign athletes to compete.

He was gutted, but in true Bennie style, even with a heavy heart, he started to make plans immediately for another challenge.

Whilst doing so, he was approached by the organisers of Moab.

Admittedly, he was feeling so down about the Gobi cancellation, his answer was not an immediate yes.

“With all the admin to sort, I did think to myself ‘do I really want to do this?’” But it didn’t take long for his mind to swing to yes, as Moab was his second chance to fulfill a dream.

“This will be the first time I’ve spread my wings and run in another country!”

He has had to ‘reinvent the wheel’ somewhat to prepare for this race, because he’d peaked in time for Gobi, but now needed to retain his fitness for this race, but not stay ‘peaked’ during that whole time.

So it came down to perfect timing that Bennie took part in (and won…!) The Hour race in Pretoria recently.

His task was to run a five kilometre loop, on the hour, every hour, for as long as possible.

Bennie ran 167 kilometres in total during 35 hours on the course, and said it was the most fun and social race he’s ever done.

“It was very tough, cold at night, and sleep deprivation kicked in – sometimes it was better to stay awake!”

It came as somewhat a surprise how good his body felt afterwards, given he’d just run 100 miles.

“It’s a combination of resting in between, taking an easy pace, and having a flat easy route. My body was never under any strain at all.”

Bennie is keen to perhaps do a race like this again, even intertwine it into his own training.

“It’s about teaching your body to recover quick; get in that endurance training without the breakdown of muscles and the body.”

So now it’s all thoughts towards Moab, which starts on October 11.

He’s ticking along the miles, and keeping up his speed work. All the hard work is done, now it’s a matter of keeping fresh and uninjured.

It’s not the long miles, hot days or cold nights that Bennie sees as his immediate challenge. For him it will be the long flight, solo, with no pacers on the race.

Unlike the bush-laden navigational challenge of The Munga Trail, this will be an open-terrain well-marked course, and at slightly lower altitude than his home base of Gauteng.

But it won’t come without its challenges, Bennie will keep his eye out for local extra race spectators; snakes, mountain lions, biting flies and mosquitos, Gila monsters, skunks, raccoons, geese, moose, elk, deer, scorpions, spiders, bears, coyotes, bees, and dogs.

There were 150 entries last year, and 111 finished. The course record is 57 hours.

“I won’t be leaving my shoes outside, and if I see a swarm of bees, I’ll keep running!!”

There will be live streaming and tracking of the race, which will be well worth following.

“To be the first South African to run this race, just being there, to have the South African flag at the end of the race, will be awesome.”

http://www.moab200.com/

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