Sunday, 7 March 2010

Town to town runabout

I wrote about ultrarunner Dean Karnaze's runabout concept a few months ago. Having recently moved out of Jo'burg Tommy suggests that we take a jaunt from Springs towards Heidelberg and, possibly, beyond. And that's how four of us - me, Tommy, Tony and Wiehan - ended up running from Springs to Heidelberg on trails, tracks, roadside verges and wide-open dirt roads on Saturday morning.

Although we started later than anticipated, this at least gave the dense mist surrounding Springs a chance to lift. By the time we hit the road, the sun was out, illuminating this beautiful highveld day.

I'd done some Google Earth scouting to look for trails and possible routes between the two towns; and from the first it was clear that we'd be able to hit some trails. With good rains on Thurs and Fri, it was little wonder that we were splashing along singletrack for the first half hour surrounded by towering grasses and accompanied by red and golden bishop birds and an unexpected variety of butterflies.

Yes, this is a footpath - flooded

We deviated a bit from my proposed route, keeping to one of the main roads. Although we didn't mean to, it was probably a good thing because we were a little uncertain about running alongside settlements - but it is a definite option to try now that we have a feel for the area and people.

There are many pretty pans and marshes in this area; this probably explains why the bird life is so abundant. Shortly after this point we realised that we'd detoured a little too far west - so we dropped down an embankment, across the railway tracks and on to another road heading towards Heidelberg.

Off the R550 we hit this super dirt road leading to an outlying farmy settlement. There were bean (like green bean) crops - domestic use - growing on either side a bit further on.

I spotted this big sunflower and couldn't resist a photo. Sunflowers are my favourite! We were probably about 2.5hrs in by this stage.

Turning west, we were on to a smaller road. Saw two horses. They were kept from straying in this unfenced area by lengths of chain - just enough so that they could graze and move around a bit.

I really, really like little baby cows...

This river was absolutely pumping. As Tommy rightly observed, "Perfect for tubing!". But there was to be no such luxury for us. See that tower on the hill in the background? Heidelberg is behind and below. We still had a distance to run.

We hit the main road into the town (R42) and left it almost immediately, finding a parallel trail, which was great, until it ended after few hundred metres, taking us back on to the road.

Yehaaa! "Welcome to Heidelberg: Pride of the Suikerbosrand" We moved quickly along the road for a few hundred meters, sneaking down a trail (just near this sign) into Bergsig, a pretty 'suburb' of Heidelberg. We took one of the quiet roads running parallel to the R42, crossing back on to the latter where it crosses the N3 and heads directly into Heidelberg.

How many to go? One? "What?" Yeah, one. About three-hundred metres down the road we found another sign, just like this, but with '2'...

Shortly after hitting town we saw a banner for a local market. We headed straight for it to get munchies and colddrinks, both way too pricey for a small-town market. They have this market on the first Saturday of every month so our timing was good. Shortly after we made town, our lift arrived. Izaan, Tommy's wife, very kindly volunteered to be on standby to fetch us.

We wrapped up the run with a swim and time spent lazing around the pool eating marula fruit - still from last weekend.
As a result of this runabout...
  • We're fairly convinced we can get this route 100% on trails and dirt roads
  • We're thinking of a route to Heidelberg via Nigel...

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