It’s been a while since I have written on Chasing Trails. To cut a long story short, my aim for 2017 was to increase my mileage and focus on the longer challenges this year. With me having done the Lite Mountain Challenge Series last year, I decided to go bigger this year and enter the Extreme Challenge. Needless to say my hill training for this has been non existent and was only focused on the mileage on the legs which was not a very bright idea with the amount of climbing to be done. Jonkershoek is such a beautiful valley with LOADS of climbing which was going to be very interesting on the day, so getting enough sleep and rest was in order. Jonkershoek Mountain Challenge awaited.
Usually I would snap a night before pic of my race gear but somehow I was just focused on getting proper sleep. I even just threw all my gear onto the couch the night before to sort out in the morning.
Race morning arrived and I was up at 3:30am sorting my kit out and making sure I had everything. Just after 4:30am I was on my way to Jonkershoek bright and early to get some decent parking because who wants to walk kms to their car after being 38km on their legs!?
My bag was weighing at frikking ton from the compulsory gear, food, 2.5l of water, extra batteries for GoPro and cellphone and who knows what else. Thank goodness we got told before the race started we would not need the extra compulsory gear!
We started about 15 minutes later due to it being dark still but once we were on our way we were welcomed with a beautiful sunrise. Having the GoPro with was probably a bad idea due to me taking videos every couple of minutes and taking in the scenery and not even keeping track of time! There was a 7.5 hour cutoff time which for what lies ahead I had to make sure I could juggle both. At about the 12km mark was where the hard climbing would come in. The next 2km had an elevation from about 600m to 1200m which was pretty tiring but was rewarded by the most amazing views! The next 15km or so I took it at a snails pace enjoying the views and going through some gnarly sections. I could not trust my legs anymore as around the 18km they just seemed to not react to what I wanted them to do anymore. One slip and I was done!
Getting to the first check-in point felt like FOREVER, thought it would never come. There was another steeping climb of just over 200m over 1km. It doesn’t seem that bad but at 21km into the race, it’s brutal!
24km was the official checkpoint where they cut the arm band off to make sure you don’t take shortcuts. If you arrive at the finish line with all your bands still on (yes, they do check afterwards if it was taken off at the checkpoints), you get a DNF. From here it was literally downhill to the finish. Not your easy downhill, more of your technical watch out for roots, rocks, overgrowth, etc. Tired legs makes it so much harder!
The only refreshment station was at 29km. This was most welcomed because at this time I had run out of water. I stood there and just rested for what felt like forever but it was only 5 minutes and I knew I had to get going as that cutoff time actually became a big problem with me taking it way too chilled. I picked up the pace a little bit and coming down with 4km to go we hit the bike track. This was going to be interesting as there was a group of bikers who seems to have a skills day and they were going from the top all the way down to the bottom. This was on the same route as what we were running. So every 20 or so seconds I had to keep looking back to let bikers through and this was not looking good for that cutoff.
I managed to get down to the bottom as quickly as I could and picked up the pace to the finish. Last km to go and I had 10 minutes left, it was cut and go, but once I saw friends who stayed to see me come in at the end I go some rejuvenation and managed to make it under the cutoff time.
I had done it! Jonkershoek Mountain Challenge done and dusted! It was a great feeling. Last year I did the 24km and I must admit, I felt worse last year than this year.
No greater feeling in the world to know how much you can push your body and knowing you can do it.
Next up in this series is 24km HMC at the Helderberg Nature Reserve in August. Looking forward to that beast.
Once I get over this manflu, training gets back underway!