After a much needed “bye week”, the lads and I were keen to tackle the final race of the Winter Trail Series. We hit the road for the trek out to Kleinmond and after a few coffees (plus snacks) we arrived bright and early at the start of the event.
Although blessed with bright and clear skies, the wind decided to show up and cause some havoc. However, nothing would slow the party vibe down as the Wildrunner team got us all hyped up for the start of the day’s races.
First to head out were the machines tackling the XL course. There was a much larger crowd of entrants than at the Paul Cluver event. A few familiar faces from the Long Series were also recognised as they probably decided to tackle the XL course after collecting their series medals a week earlier.
After cheering these guys on at the start, we delivered our final chirps to each other and stretched before our race.
From the course map, it seemed to be a quite straight forward race. About 5km of flat beachside running, an intense climb for about a kilometre or two, and a healthy dose of downhill running to end it all off.
We were chilled, smiling and relaxed. Oh, how foolish we were…
The race starts out by taking you on a short section of road between the homes in the area. Not even a kilometre in and we joined the single track trail which runs parallel to the shore.
With large waves crashing on the rocks a mere 20m to your left, it was an awesome scene.
Helpful Hint 01: Rather stop and look at the view than try sneak a peek while running – it definitely deserves your full attention (FYI: I tripped a couple of times trying to admire and run at the same time)
If you think the first stretch will be something like a long walk on the beach, think again. The trail was rocky single track that wound its way between the shore on your left and the beach-front homes on your right. What we didn’t realise is that this was a sign of things to come…
A few (very) short breaks onto tarred roads can be expected before heading onto the boarded sections of the trail.
The route then turns away from the shore and heads towards the Palmiet River. There is a definite step up in the rockiness of the course as things became more technical the closer we got to the river.
Helpful Hint 02: Keep focussed on this section as the risk of injury is real thanks to the rocks along the course (just ask the one participant I saw rolling off the course into the shrubs, not to mention the ankle sprains I picked up)
The wind was a constant factor as well. Apologies to anyone behind me that got whacked by the weird combination of flying drool and tears – it was the wind’s fault!
We continued along the Palmiet River and even ran up a stream that feeds into the river before entering Fairy Glen and the start of the climb.
Helpful Hint 03: Don’t bother trying to avoid getting wet in the stream. There is a section where there is no way around, but through it (perfect for numbing the pain from the sprains you may have picked up earlier lol)
The climb to the top along the Klipspringer Trail was brutal. Although only a short climb (in total distance), the altitude gain was rough as we zigzagged our way upwards.
Helpful Hint 04: If you find that you’re hating on life and cursing the race organisers, just turn around and look at the amazing view behind you – it’s more than enough to keep you going
Once you reach the top of the plateau (and after your mandatory trail selfie), you will welcome the chance to stretch your legs as you run along the flat top.
There are a few small climbs left on the course, but as you turn the corner and start to run the contour of the mountain, it’s all downhill from there towards the finish. Do note that the trail is mostly single track here, so listen out for faster runners coming up behind so you can let them pass.
As you exit the trail, there is a short stretch (approx. 1-2kms) of road through residential area before heading through a tunnel and out onto the finish straight.
I honestly felt that this was the most technical course of the entire series. It can be tough to find a decent rhythm with all the rock hopping that is needed. However, the Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve leg is also the most beautiful event of the series.
With the series now complete, we collected our medals and even hung around hoping we’d win something from one of the lucky draws – alas, we didn’t lol
The Spur Winter Trail Series was superbly well run and is a great introduction to trail running events. I definitely recommend it to novice and seasoned runners alike.
I’m really glad that I took part in the Spur Winter Trail Series (thanks EnduroHub!). A few takeaways from the series for me were:
- You only need about 500-750ml of water to sip during the race
- Less is more, when it came to clothing. Leave all those added layers at home – you heat up enough during the race, but bring along a precautionary windbreaker in case conditions are completely insane
- Your shoe (aka Weapon of Choice) must be able to handle all types of terrain as each course has more than one dimension – plus trail shoes > road shoes
- There is always one EPIC climb per course that will humble you – sometimes walking is actually faster and certainly more energy efficient
- Have fun, smile, and be friendly and courteous out on the trails – we are all out there suffering together
Maybe next year I’ll be back to tackle the XL events.
Have you competed in the Spur Trail Series or run the Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve event before? Share some tips on what worked for you in the comments section below.
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