The Crazy Store Magalies Mountain Challenge that was held on the weekend of 20 August was undoubtedly one of the most amazing events I have ever done! Thank you to everybody that made this such a special event and I can’t wait for next year! I have to however warn anybody wanting to brave the long distance that it is not for the feint footed…
Over the years I have embarked on many, what some people may call crazy, difficult and painful adventures including the All Africa Games, Tour d Eden and Kremetart tour to name a few. I have cried, bled and literally broken myself in the quest for the ultimate endurance high, but in ten years I have never suffered as much as I did between the hours of 09h00 and 14h00 on Saturday 20 August 2011.
It became glaringly clear to me that the name ‘Crazy Store Magalies Mountain Challenge’ was not only because of the title sponsor being the Crazy store but also because you had to be stark raving mad to actually complete this race and not roll up in the foetal position afterwards crying for your mommy. If it weren’t for the crowd at the finish I would have probably done this.
Until the day of the race I had never embarked on a running adventure of more than twenty six kilometres and I didn’t think the distance of thirty five kilometres would pose a problem. Well, it did.
We were very privileged to run where not many people get the opportunity to go, On top of the Magalies mountain range, the problem though was getting there… After being dropped of by bus at the foot of the mountain our race started at 09h00. The short 6 kilometre climb took me a full hour as the slopes were so steep a miss step would send you rolling down the hill with only tree stumps and rocks to literally break your fall. The endangered vultures circling at the top of the cliffs were not only amazing it was also a sure sign of things to come. After two hours I was still running along the plateau on top and feeling like Rocky, I did however resist punching the air and doing a little dance as the TV helicopter came past in the fear of falling and embarrassing myself… I reached the halfway point and had to make my way down the mountain which seems like a welcome rest. Well it wasn’t. I tried hard to follow some good advice from Famous Shamous on how to negotiate the steep downhill but at that stage I was so tired I realised if I trip and fall I would probably just lie there and wait to be rescued sucking on the remnants of my camel back. My camel back was the next problem, it was empty. Thirst was driving me to the edge of sanity and only the knowledge of the water point ten kilometres from the finish kept me going. I was however not going very fast… Having taken too many energy gels and not drinking enough water did something very strange with my blood sugar and I started feeling extremely sick. The endlessly twisting road also didn’t really help, as soon as you thought you have reached the flatter open part of the course, it takes yet another painful turn up another torturous rise just to test your resolve. It was here where I started with my stop start survival technique. I would literally run around three hundred meters, stop, put my hands on my knees, bend over, try to not throw up, count to five and carry on.
Arriving at the one and only water point, ten kilometres from the finish the volunteers manning the table gave me a look that said “Shame…” One friendly lady even got up from her chair so I could sit a bit. Drinking a few glasses of water I think what ever was in my stomach got a bit diluted and I could again carry on. I was however so tempted to stop that when I was told to go to the medic because I didn’t look so good. I knew that one word of pity from the medic would send me to the ground refusing to run one step further. I resisted the temptation and carried on. The stop start business was the only answer to the pain and nausea pulling me down and after being very worried about getting lost I heard the music coming from the finish line. I gathered myself before entering the finishing straight and rested about two full minutes so I could at least run to the finish without tripping and hitting the track face first. I made it just under five hours and got overtaken by about a million people in the last ten kilometres but just finishing was amazing.
I have never been able to understand how people can say they’re just happy to finish. Well I can now state that I totally understand, as the alternative of being airlifted off a mountain while vultures are pecking at your blistered feet does not sound better to me!
It is today five days after the race and I am still so stiff that I can hardly walk and I can’t wait to do it all over again, And that is how you know you’re a crazed Endurance Athlete!