Monday, 12 April 2010

Jakkalsdraai trail circuit run

The Crater 24hr Jakkalsdraai Trail Team Relay has been on the calendar for two years. I had initially considered entering a team but with only two other takers and a fading inclination to spend the whole weekend at the event (with post-race sleepiness), I instead chose their six-hour solo option.

* Pic - coming through the timing/spectator tent for another water refill

Really just interested in being out there for a run and to check out the event, I started running at 12h00, with the 24hr relay teams, instead of 15h00, with the other solo runners. I wanted to start earlier, to finish earlier and head back home. I've had weekend after weekend with events and activities so although I wanted to take part, I wasn't quite in the mood to finish at 21h00. The event kindly accommodated my quirky request.

While I had the benefit of daylight throughout my run, I also had the sweltering heat of this perfect summer's day - and it was h.o.t. out there, especially between 12h00 and 15h00. The relay runners, doing one lap each of the 3.4km loop wouldn't have been too affected; but running consecutive loops meant exposure to the sun's full glory.

The route is a tough one, especially over the first half; it goes up, up, up. And then there's the most glorious downhill and a stretch along the flooded Vaal River that is deceivingly longer than you expect. The trail is good quality and overall it is a good mix.

Route profile from my Suunto. The red dots indicate a lap completed, marked at the timing table. I changed shoes at the end of lap 2, socks at the end of lap 4 and filled up water after every lap.

There were maybe 10 teams and 15 solo runners -  a tiny field for an event that really is superb and has a lovely atmosphere and vibe. The transition area was set up with tables and chairs under a big white tent, DJs spinning good tunes and an outside area, with grandstands, for spectators and waiting teammates.

The route itself was very well marked with bunting demarcating turns and white paint on trees and jutting-out rocks. As this race goes through the night, the race organisers (Attie and his team from RIDE magazine - the same bunch who organise the 24hr mtb relay in the Parys area) had taken care to make sure that the route would be clearly visible in the dark and that rocks likely to trip you up were highlighted.

My mom came through with me, being on standby to fill up my water bottle and offer boiled potatoes and other munchies I'd prepared (thank you mom). I drank a bottle each lap - around 500ml every 26-30 minutes. And I was still thirsty!

I had a lovely run, completing 11 laps in 15h13. I had plenty time for another full lap (just under 30mins for a lap, including stop for water refill, munchies and quick chat to Attie outside the tent) but was happy with my afternoon and my legs still felt good. The other solo runners were not quite halfway by this stage - I thought about them as I drove home.

Jakkalsdraai is a super concept and we can expect to see other course options like a 6hr relay added for next year. This will open the event up to people and their friends who are keen to play for 6hrs, but not to commit to a 24hr day of running.

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