RACE: STF Bartinney2Bartinney Extreme

STF Bartinney2Bartinney is one of those trail runs where you need to rock up prepared. I for one was not prepared as much as I thought I was.
Gym on Wednesday killed my legs and I felt it today. Rookie mistake for not checking out the profile before the week’s gym sessions.
Saturday my legs were still fragile and I even went to parkrun to see if maybe giving them some stretches would help and it worked, or so I thought.
The route profile showed 24.5km and 1200m elevation so it was no joke. My hydration bladder had to be taken to the supplier to get replaced/fix because of the hole last week so I was unable to run with it which meant I had to have a water bottle in my hand which is not ideal on long distances as you don’t usually get water points but on this route there was 2 points, plus a river which you pass through twice.
Anyways, this morning Mel drove me through to Bartinney Wine Bar in Stellenbosch for the start and met up with some buddies. At race briefing they said the route was going to be an extra 1.5km! All still fast asleep and 7:15am we were off thought the quiet streets of Stellenbosch towards Coetzenburg and onto our first real climb of the day at 4km.
Just before that I wanted tie my hair, so I stopped and just as I was about to tie it, the band broke. Annoyed for losing about a minute or two fumbling it and getting it out I was feeling miff. Zig zagging up the switchbacks for a couple of kms up we came up to some beautiful views and I grab my phone in my pocket only to find there was no phone. I knew where I lost it. That damn hair band’s fault for making me forget to zip the pocket closed. I had an extra phone with me, an old Nokia phone with buttons for the times you cannot use the touch screen because of sweaty fingers. No airtime! I forgot that airtime expires! I was HIGHLY annoyed and all I wanted to do was go back and find the phone but I told myself that someone will pick it up and hopefully hand it in somewhere. I was mumbling to myself and clearly just was not focused on the trail. Can’t take photos, going to cut my hair short, just want to go home and a few more thoughts were racing in my head. This was already 8km and I had to really scream at myself inside that there is nothing you can do about it so just put on your big boys pants and finish this and deal with it afterwards, but my head just was not in the race for most of the time. Frustrated.
Once at the top it was a beautiful switchback downhill through the vineyards. I took a bit of a tumble but with my fast reflexes I managed to not fall down the side which would have not been a pleasant thing! At the end of the switchback I arrived at Bartinney Wine Farm and there was a guy showing a short sign and a long sign. At this point I was tempted to choose the short as that was the end of the short race but knowing I entered for the long one I was not going to be that guy. In my mind I was cursing myself as I went past the guy saying, but it’s another 16km!
Some more beautiful tracks in the vineyard and then it was time to hit the forest sections and some more big hills for the day. It was gruelling and painful. At this stage in the race I could feel every muscle fibre in my calves and hamstrings. It was going to be a long last 9kms until the end. I surprisingly enjoyed the downhills after the hill but with 2km left they hit us with the kicker. 150m elevation in about 1.5km. It was torture as at that moment the sun was basking at full force by the time we hit it.
I managed to get over the line with some awesome people who where cheering and jumping up and down spurring me on. It helped tremendously.
Receiving that medal seemed to bring some sort accomplishment but as I got to join friends, my body decided it had enough and I was so exhausted I didn’t know what to do with myself. I think it took about 30 minutes to get to some sort of normal state where I could walk.

Few things I learnt.
* Prepare before a long trail run. Know the profile and don’t overdo it the week before.
* Take your energy gels/bars during the race and stick to your plan. Don’t skip it because you feellike you don’t need it.
* Don’t leave your zip pockets open.
* It really sucks when you cannot take photos!
* As much as I love to listen to music while I run, I have found that the last 3 races I stopped listening to it 3km in. Now I understand why people only listen to them on training.

Medal for finishing the Extreme
Medal for finishing the Extreme