Thursday 7 November 2013

Prepping for Forest Run 2014

Actually, I didn't do a lot of running the past two days. A mix of walking and running and planning and looking and checking...

I was out in the forest scouting and planning the route for Forest Run next year. I couldn't use my original planned route this year because when I arrived in the days before to tag the course I'd found the grass to be up to my eyeballs and really thick so I had to amend the course. But this time around forestry have said that they'll cut the trails for me; they have to do it a month later anyway in preparation for the fire season, so they may as well cut some of them early for me.

This gives me a lot more freedom and so these past two days I traversed some of the original course, some of the course that was run this year and I tried out some other sections.

Let's just say that I'm sooooo excited because I'm cooking up such a superb route for Forest Run 2014. I really enjoy this part of route planning. I've got my maps, my GPS logs and now I play on Google Earth to tweak things and measure distance options.

This area changes dramatically in the four months between now and 1 March 2014. The rains have been late - only arriving in the last two weeks. I was there in October last year for orienteering coach training and we were soaked! When I was back there in November it was lush and green and wet and there were flowers everywhere. The area is probably a month behind this year.

They have recently had good rains so the grasses and reeds are starting to turn green. Flowers will be out in the next week or three and the streams are running. But across many sections it is actually quite dry. Crunchy underfoot too. The bonus of now is that everything feels a lot more open with big spaces, big views that are not 'crowded' by long grass and dense undergrowth - in places.

Just driving out here makes my heart soar and once I smell that lovely scent of pine... oh-la-la!

Conditions were sweltering! At Lakenvlei Lodge they told me about a huge storm last Monday that brought so much hail it smashed the reeds around the dam and tore leaves off the trees - evidence was all around. They said that there was so much ice from the storm that they couldn't drive on the paved road and had to use a tractor to clear it.

When I'm out there I stay at a place a few kilometres from Lakenvlei and the chap there, Uli, said that it had been pretty cold there and until two nights before my arrival he'd had a fire on in the evenings!

That was a far cry from my starting out temperature of around 28C on Tuesday mid-morning. I took my watch off my wrist to monitor the temperature and at one stage saw the reading on 33C - and it is humid out there. Frying! Wednesday was much of the same. Hoping to beat the heat, I set off a bit after 7am and it was in the mid 20s already then!

Entries for Forest Run will open in the next few days. I'll fill you in on my cunning plans then ;)

Forest Run will be on 1 March 2014. There's 30-odd kilometre route and a 60-odd kilometre route. I'll probably put in a 8km route for friends/family/supporters of runners.

In the interim, some piccies for you.

A most-welcome dripping fire hose. This was on Tuesday at about noon. Cooking at around 31C. And humid. I really needed this cooling off.

So, I see these young cattle on the other side of the fence (neighbouring property) and they see me. They start coming towards me. And their friends come too - from all around. When I turn my back on them they edge closer. The Case of the Curious Cows?
How Now Mr Cow... can you perhaps tell me where I am?

Luckily no falling trees around here!

Hey, where'd the trees go? On orienteering maps, green shows thick vegetation so what should have been here were young trees with thick undergrowth. Now, no trees. Gone. Forestry has been pretty busy - I found a couple of recently felled quadrants.
Being out here on my own... a lovely time for reflection.

In the four months between now and Forest Run, this places changes so much! It looks very open at this time of year because the grass is low, flowers are not yet out and the reeds in the vleis are low. But in four months - grasses higher than my head! Forestry will be trimming the tracks for us - thank goodness!

Here I'm trying to show you a 'steep' ascent on the Forest Run route. Ja, it's like not so like steep eh? It's a gentle gradient, much like everything else out here. Gently, soothing, kind and friendly.

This is the view that the 30km runners should see as they turn for 'home'. I say should because the view could be obscured by long grass... As for the 60km runners... that green circle marks the fire-watch tower - you'll be heading there (it looks further away than it really is).

Rains have been later this year so it is still quite brown and dry. They had good rainfall over the past two weeks so the vleis are wet and the dams are full. Green is starting to cover the area.

Although I prefer my trees upright, living and covered in leaves, I'm a sucker for these piles of wood because of the scent. OMG - the scent. Couldn't resist sniffing the length of this pile. I'm so the freshly-cut-pine scent addict!

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