Race: Helderberg Mountain Challenge Lite

Helderberg Mountain Challenge Lite, the second race in the Mountain Challenge Series. Previously I was nervous, could not sleep and was checking my kit constantly the night before the JMC lite. This time around I knew what to expect and was not even phased about it. Probably because it was only 15km and it was basically the same elevation as the JMC lite.

Saturday morning I got dressed, packed the kit and off I went. It was only a couple of kilometres from home so did not have to wake up too early. Got decent parking and popped the hydration pack on my back. Couple of metres I was feeling water dripping down my leg. Did I not close my hydration bladder pack properly? Back to the car I go to check and also checked for leaks and could not find anything. Off I go again to go check in the compulsory gear and all was good but there was something wrong with my hydration. I popped the hydration bladder out and thoroughly inspected it and boom, I found the leak. It was half way up the bladder 🙁 The shop there did not have any repair kit neither was there insulation tape but after a while someone did manage to find tape but I already saw that I could at least have half my bladder with water and it would not leak. That would be enough as it was not going to be a hot day and it was pretty chilly.

Pre race photos and 7:15am we were on our way! This was going to be a tough one as it was all uphill for 6.5km to 960m elevation! I was feeling pretty strong until we hit the cliffs of the mountain and you had to literally climb up rocks! It became a hike. Every now and then I snapped some amazing pictures to catch my breath. WOW!!!

View of Strand and Gordon's Bay
View of Strand and Gordon’s Bay
Another view of the Helderberg Basin
Another view of the Helderberg Basin

Just when I thought that was the end of it, the real climb actually started. Thank goodness the guys from Wildrunner that marked the course did an excellent job! If not for them I would have made a lot of people go into the wrong direction! Climbing from rock to rock and plotting your path to the next one is a bit tricky. I was being so cautious to not slip and fall, yes, fall to one’s death, and also to avoid these huge ass thorn bushes!
I could not take pictures of the steep climbs and narrow paths as I was too cautious, being my first time actually attempting something like this! The pictures below were just some of the climbs we had to do!

One of the many such climbs
One of the many such climbs
Some more climbing all the way to the top!
Some more climbing all the way to the top!
aaaand some more climbing!
aaaand some more climbing!

Once I got to the top I was met with these beauties! Stood there for a couple of minutes taking in the awesomeness of the views around on the top!

On top of the world!
On top of the world!
Stellenbosch side of the world!
Stellenbosch side of the world!

From here it was all downhill, well, very very technical downhill. Just like the climbing up parts, we had to do the same going down!!! Some people were motoring down but me not used to these types of terrains I was being the very careful. Once that part was over it was back to single tracks and jeep tracks and this is where I made up a lot of time again and before I knew it I had finished the HMC lite in under the time I had set myself. *self high five*

For me the HMC was tougher than the JMC, all because of the more technical climbs. My legs felt so much stronger on the parts before the technical climbs and that’s huge for me. It means my training is paying off!

The final race in this series it at the Marloth Nature Reserve in Swellendam in September and I am already nervous for it. There is a cut-off time, not sure what it is yet, and it is about 600m more elevation than the previous races. This is also a week after I do my first marathon, the Sanlam Cape Town Marathon. What was I thinking? I must say, my recovery after long races is great and I am sure I won’t have any issues unless I pickup an injury or get sick *touch wood* that this does not happen!

Next race on the calendar is the Bartinney2Bartinney 24km next weekend and looking forward to this one!

See you on the trails!