18 & 19 April 2014
Dr Ross Tucker is a well known Sports Scientist, working with UCT and the Sports Science Institute. He has done extensive research into the performance of the human body during exercise - both in normal conditions as well as extreme and endurance events.
We wrap up the recon series (video posts, anyway) today with a look at the final 3km, which takes you from the turnoff onto the M3 to the much anticipated grass fields of UCT, where you can celebrate your achievement with a cold drink and a well-earned rest!
The left turn onto the M3 comes at the end of a long descent which starts at the Kirstenbosch top gate and then drops steeply at first, gradually later, past bottom gate, massive crowds and along the tree-covered Rhodes Drive. After about 10 minutes of "easy running", you'll emerge from the shaded section into sunlight, and be "surprised" to discover that you still have one small hill to conquer.
It's really not a difficult hill - short and moderately steep, but by the time you've raced either 18km or 53km, it certainly feels it! Part of the challenge is making the transition from the descending to the uphill climb, which messes with your rhythm a little, so just take it easy - you're not going to lose too much time here by relaxing at the bottom, and focusing on "running over the hill".
As you'll see in the video, the hill is short enough that you can see the top (where the road bends to the right again), so push to that point and then you're on the flat again. After this, with just on 2km to run, you're pretty much home and dry. By now, you've done either 90% or 95% of your race, and so it would over-elaborate to say anything but "go for it". You're now so close that you just dig deep and push as hard as you can.
It can be quite hot on this road, because it's exposed to the sun from early in the morning. However, the weather forecasts for Saturday seem to suggest that this won't be a problem (for better or worse!), but if it is, just get water and pour it on your head, manage your comfort levels and it'll soon pass.
There's one final "hill", which is really just the off-ramp to UCT, but within sight of the finish line, you'll probably curse it as though it's Southern Cross or Constantia Nek all over again. That's literally 30 seconds of effort, then you drop down onto the grass of UCT for a final 300m of celebration time (and hopefully, not a flat out sprint to make a personal target or race cut-off!).
There's a medal, a Coke and a beer waiting you (not necessarily in that order - I guess it depends on how the race has gone!), along with war stories with fellow 'Conquerors', so soak it up - this is what you run for, after all!
The video is below, and that brings to an end the video recon series. The only thing left to do now is discuss Edinburgh Drive for the half marathon runners, but that's something that I unfortunately don't have a video for. I'll do a post on it either later today or tomorrow morning, and at least try to talk you through some of the key point of that hill!