At the beginning of this year I made a list of Trail Runs I would love to do and I began drafting a bucket list. The Mountain Challenge Series was definitely on that list, so when entries opened I immediately registered for the whole series. Unlike any other “normal” Trail Run this was called a Mountain Challenge for a reason.
First up on the list was the Jonkershoek Mountain Challenge Lite. Being my first year at doing the longer distances, so of course opted for the Lite. I have done 3 half marathons on the road and I can tell you, 24km on a trail is no joke, let alone a Mountain Challenge. No matter how quick you are on the road, the trail does not allow you to. Unless you are those top runners because they have NO fear at all!
For this series they have a compulsory kit check for each race because when you go into the mountain, the weather at times does not play well and you have to prepare for the worst. It’s you against nature and you need to make sure you can survive out there if something goes wrong until someone can get help or come rescue you. Mine was a bit of an overkill but this being my first for such a kit I was not sure. At least I know now what to expect!
The first few kilometers were reasonable, jeep track and some single track with some of the most AMAZING views! I had to stop every now and then to take pictures and to take in the magnificent mountains and scenery! At the 7.5km mark we all knew what was coming. A torturous, gruesome and slowest 2.5km 600m elevation climb I have ever experienced! I thought it would never end. I kept thinking to myself, why did I do this and why did I enter for the rest of the series? The remaining races are even worse elevation!!! After about 5 hours, ok I lie, but it felt like that, just under an hour to do that climb, snapped a few pictures and selfies and it was back to some single trail along the mountain range with some big drops to the left, one wrong step or slip and you would be falling a long way down. There were many waterfalls along the way which were beautiful and one had to climb over rocks, fallen tree stumps and make sure one does not slip on the wet rocks. Unfortunately that happened to me and I got very very lucky that I never turned or even broke my ankle when it slipped and got wedged between two rocks! The legs after about 17-18km were behaving pretty nicely compared to the previous race, except for the fact that the downhill portions were very technical and were made for the Mountain Bikers! The last part of the race was surprisingly enjoyable. We even had to go beneath under the dam! Not sure where I got it, but I managed to find some energy for the last 2-3km to finish strong. Needless to say when I stopped running my legs went into the verge of cramping mode!
Now to rest these legs for a day or two and get back into training because in two weeks time it’s the Helderberg Mountain Challenge!
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Jonkershoek is such a magnificent beauty to behold. I got to experience one of the most grueling trails to date. Conquered the JMC Lite mountain challenge today. This is why I love trailrunning! #trailrunning #hiking #RunJMC #ChallengeYourLimits #wildrunner #mcs #jonkershoek #stellenbosch #mountainchallengeseries #mountains #nevergiveup #fitness #beataverage
Race route below: