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Home >> Blog >> Guest Blogger >> Running with the elephants

Running with the elephants

  • Trail Run
  • Training

Old Mutual Two Oceans Ultra Marathon (and trail) runner Karoline Hanks supplements her training by participating in interesting races. This week, she talks about her recent participation in the 44km Addo Elephant Trail Run…

Last Saturday I ran my first 44km Addo Elephant Trail Run. The morning started with a 3am wake-up call – which allowed me just enough time to pin my race number on, pack my bag, knock back a sufficient quantity of caffeine and attempt to eat something.

The bus was leaving the Addo gate at 4.30am sharp. After a fairly bumpy, dark and misty ride, about 210 of us lined up at the start at Addo’s Kabouga Gate near Kirkwood. A little after 6am, the first batch of runners – a mere handful (20 or so) – set off on the more impressive 76km route. Nic de Beer (with 10 Comrades and 7 OMTOM silvers to his name) was in the mix. A firm favourite from the start, he went on to defend his title and win the race in an impressive 7:35! (To think I did some of my Puffer training runs with the man in 2011…..Gasp).

The rest of us got started ten minutes later.

We wound our way through the most exquisite tapestry of Afromontane forest mixed with Subtropical thicket – the statuesque and characteristic euphorbia trees rising above the dense green canopies. We sloshed and waded through river beds, slogged and swore up very steep, rocky jeep tracks. We ran from one deep rugged, richly forested kloof to another, all of them crammed with cycads, aloes, plumbago and spekboom and eventually found ourselves at the top of the Zuurberg range, bounding along in some pristine mountain and grassland Fynbos.

I started out at the front (in the ladies race), but held onto that glory for all of 2 kilometres. Nancy Cloete came bounding effortlessly past me, followed very soon thereafter by the diminutive and super speedy Kerry-Ann Marshall. I saw neither hide nor hair of these two ladies for the rest of the race ….

My pace (and mood) varied considerably. I had a few wobbles, fought the demons in my head (sometimes to myself, sometimes out loud) and my ever tolerant running partner stuck with me encouragingly throughout.

Despite the wobbles, my last 10 kays were relatively fast and furious. At the last water table, I heard that the fourth lady (Olivia Reed, Puffer ladies record holder) was right on my tail and I needed to hurry up to hold onto my third place. I dug very deep and managed a brisk walk/run/walk/run approach up some of the steeper final zig-zag paths out of the valley to the finish line.

It is quite rare for a lady to win a trail race outright. We usually prove to be strong at the ultra-trail running events, and often come in the top ten, “chicking” many of the men. This race proved the exception. Kerry-Ann Marshall managed to scoop the title with a phenomenal time of 4:12.

She beat the second runner, the first male by 7 minutes. Nancy Cloete came in at 4:41 and I came in 2 minutes behind her – putting three of us ladies in the top ten. Girl power at its very best!

The race finished at the Zuurberg Mountain Inn – the perfect spot to lounge about in the sun, quaffing frosty Savannas and watching the rest of the runners come in.

PS: What makes de Beer’s win even more remarkable is that he ran it with a broken middle toe. True trail running grit right there.

Addo Results

44 kilometre race

1

Kerry-Ann Marshall

04:12:28

2

Andrew Tunstall

04:19:14

3

Pierre Jordaan

04:32:27

4

Chris Darke

04:37:42

5

Ndyebo Qwakanisa

04:40:35

6

Nancy Cloete

04:41:52

7

Ben Garrett

04:43:05

8

Karoline Hanks

04:43:57

9

Filippo Faralla

04:44:38

10

Morne Nel

04:47:27

76 kilometre race

1

Nic De Beer

07:35:10

2

Stuart McConnachie

07:38:04

3

Fernando Santos

08:54:30

4

Jason Labuschagne

09:01:28

5

Denbeigh Knight

09:09:33

6

Heather Phipson

09:33:31

7

Lee Dicks

09:44:04

8

Grant Hechter

10:03:14

9

Benita Barton

10:06:23

10

Dariusz Jacek Labudzki

10:26:10

Photos accredited to Deon Braun. 

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