Instead, I booked us one night away, at a most fabulous spot in the Vredefort Dome - less than one kilometre from the Forest Run start venue.
The week before I'd been out in the Dome, meeting with my start venue - the Venterskroon Inn - so go over details and also to get suggestions from Leon for other accommodation venues in the area to add to my list. He passed on a few names and the next day I phoned them, checked out their websites and added them to my map and Accommodation page on the Forest Run website.
Most of the places are self catering but the one, Desiderius per Flumen, offered dinner, bed and breakfast. I dropped Rassie a note to see whether I could book one of their four double rooms for Saturday night. "Yes," came his reply.
We went through in the afternoon after helping at our friend's trail run in the morning as marshals and route sweepers. Rassie warmly welcomed us before we headed through his most beautiful garden to gaze at the Vaal River. The house and garden overlooks the river. We then spent a few hours lying on wonderfully comfortable garden chairs, under the shade of a large tree, while we read, dozed and listened to birds chirping.
Rassie cooked us a delicious dinner - he is a whizz in the kitchen. If you ever stay here, ask that he makes you his potato wedges! We enjoyed a solid 10-hour sleep in the absolute stillness of the location and were treated to rusks and tea (for me, coffee for Celliers) and double-cream yoghurts before a delicious home-cooked breakfast. He sent us home with the rest of his early-morning, home-cooked pot bread.
After just one night away, we felt like we'd been away for days - and only a 30-minute drive from home. Celliers had no idea about what I'd planned so it was a nice surprise for him.
We then spent the rest of the day on the Forest Run 16km route. I had not taken Celliers up there before and wanted to show him the protea forest and the trig beacon. Even though I know the area like the back of my hand, there were parts that I totally did not recognise because of all of the vegetation growth - so different to this time last year when it was sweltering and dry. We will have loads of grass cutting to do come early May, to get these trails run-ready.
A couple of photos from the route.
Celliers at the trig beacon.
The Vredefort Dome is a meteorite impact site so the geology out here is amazing. We found this interesting rock. This section is not on the Forest Run route - we were exploring some other tracks.
Last year, there was a track straight through here. We'll have loads of grass cutting to do ahead of this year's Forest Run on 20 May 2017.
What a win! We saw a number of open protea flowers in the 'protea forest'. Online it says they flower October to January but it looked like there were still loads of flowers just waiting to open over the next week or two. That would be really wonderful to see.
Green and lush out on the Forest Run route. This is one of three steep downhills on the 16km route. Walk, take care and enjoy the view. Fortunately, it is short.
My new 'watermelon' AR Mini Gaiters. Visit AR Gaiters website for the available prints and colours. We encourage you to go wild with cool prints. Once you've worn AR Mini Gaiters, your life will never be the same. Transform your runs, sock longevity, reduce blister risk and foot comfort on trails and dirt roads.