Thursday 1 June 2023

Aid station volunteer at the marvellous MUT event

George Mountain Ultra Trail (MUT) is a big trail running event in my hometown of George. Started in 2018, the event has quickly become a calendar highlight. This year it became part of the UTMB Series where runners can qualify for Ultra Trail Mont Blanc. Course distances on offer include 10km, 25km, 42km, 60km, 100km and the new 100-miler course.

I volunteered at this event last year on gear check and at The Cross aid station. I went for a repeat this year with gear check on the Thursday and Friday and then being at The Cross from Saturday morning to Sunday noon.

I was on a team with the same core crew from last year with Koot, Chanelle and Kuyler. We had extra hands on Saturday during the bulk of the day when the shorter distances came through our spot We were on the mountain for 30hrs, enjoying crystal-clear views of George in the beautiful day and at night, even watching sections of the town come back on after loadshedding. Best view location.

This year we had a big tent, which was a blessing. The Cross typically is always windy. As luck would have it, there was little to no wind this year - or rain. The tent provided good protection regardless and was a big asset this year. Last year, we huddled behind the wheels of the vehicle to get some shelter from the wind and drizzle.

Me, Kuyler, Chanelle and Koot

At our aid station, we see the runners on the 10km, 42km, 60km,100km and 100-mile courses (we don't see the 25km runners). With 4.5km to the finish, we have the task of bolstering spirits to get the runners on the last stretch to the end. Saturday night and Sunday was all about the courageous 100km and 100-mile participants. The last miler runner, who came past us around 12h30 today, made it to the finish before his course's 48hr cut-off.

I got in a decent sleep from about 01h00 to 05h00, which I needed after long weeks in the lead up to the event.

The weather this weekend was perfect but the course was muddy and incredibly challenging. The ground was saturated from recent regular rains in plus rain on the Thursday afternoon before the race. MUT is not a walk-in-the-park; the gradient and terrain is challenging in good conditions. Race day was tough. 

At our aid station, we saw runners after Tonnelbos and Sungazer. Some were head-to-toe covered in mud and absolutely shattered but generally in good spirits knowing that they were almost done. 

It is always amazing to see the front runners but extra special to interact with those at the back. Lots of great interactions and laughs, and another rewarding experience of being an event volunteer.

Well done to all the dozens of people that make this event happen. MUT is a feather in the cap not only of George and our trail community but also of South Africa. Well done to Zane, Carmen, Jacques and their team - from trail cutters to the trail markers, planners, organisers, sponsors and race day volunteers. A huge effort goes into this event. 

Friends from Jo'burg came to do the 25km. It was a treat to have them come stay with us. Other friends who did the 60km joined us for lunch on Monday. Good time spent with good people to catch up.

Put this event in your diary for next year. Rain or shine, you will love your experience out here.

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