Table Mountain Challenge

The Table Mountain Challenge somehow always manages to have fantastically hot weather, sometimes too hot for running!, and this year was no exception. I was feeling fit and well rested. I had made sure I took it easy during the week, something which I find very difficult! My aim for the race was a top 5 placing and around 5 ½ hours, all being well….

My start time was 07.15, half an hour after the ‘elites’, although I’m sure I should have been in that group too?! The first part of the race was along the gravel track to the block house situated above Rhodes Memorial. Nothing technical, just a few ups and downs; a nice 8km warm up. Having started at the back of the group, within the first kilometre I was already up at the front. I kept telling myself not to start too fast as there was a long way to go! There was another lady up at the front of the group who seemed to be on a mission. Being competitive as I am I didnt want her to get too far infront of me, but after a brief chat I found out that this was her first time running the TMC and she wasnt too sure of the route… after about 6km she was already walking up the hills. Maybe people should do some training runs on the route prior to running the 38km race! I must admit that I had hoped to do some training on the mountain prior to the race but just never seemed to have fitted it in. I could remember the 3rd leg from last year’s TMC relay and I had run the first section and part of the second section last year during training runs.

The second leg of the race ran through Newlands Forest and along to Constanstia Nek. A really beautiful run, meandering along the contour path, along wooden walkways, over streams and waterfalls. I was a bit paranoid about taking the wrong route, after my Kleinmond experience, but fortunately I only took one wrong turn and quickly realised my error. Most of the route was well marked but there were a couple of spots which could have done with an extra arrow.

As I came into the second water point at the end of leg 2 I was feeling pretty good. I had managed to get into a rhythm. My legs werent tired yet but I was have a bit of an issue with my right big toe. Not sure what was wrong with it. I had been eating my 32Gi endure tabs and 32Gi chews in regular intervals to maintain my energy levels. I had already drunk about 1.5litres of water. I had to stop quickly at the check point to refil my Camelbak. Very sensible of the organisers to check everyone has sufficient water before heading off on the tough 3rd leg.

So with about 20kms done off I set on leg 3, the best but toughest part of the route. From Constantia Nek the gravel track takes you along to join the single track. And then the climbing begins! But its worth it because the views are absoultely fantastic! And I made sure I looked!

After about 3.5 hours running I did begin to get a little bit hungry so a handful of nuts did the job. The climbing seemed to be never ending! The route looped right around the side of the mountain and then we climbed up Llandudno Ravine. ( I think that’s what it’s called?!) All the runners were spread out so as I ran across the top of the mountain at times I could see absolutely nobody! I stopped a couple of times to survey the landscape and spot a fellow runner in the distance to reassure myself that I was going the correct way!

My water had almost run out by the time I began to descend down the rocky mountain so was very grateful for the stream to help keep me hydrated. I was paranoid that I was going to cramp, especially due to the heat, but also because it has been a problem for me in the past when doing long runs or cycle rides.

I am usually very quick descending down technical terrain but every step I took my toe pressed against my shoe causing pain. I couldnt wait to get down to the pipe track. However I had forgotten how rocky the pipe track is! I was wanting a nice flat sandy track to run on so would be less painful on my toe and easier for my tiring limbs. Within about 2kms of the finish I managed to trip over a tree root. I think my concentration was beginning to wane after running/climbing/jumping for 5 hours. So with blood trickling down my leg I approached the finish line.

I was delighted to come home in just over 5hrs and 3rd placed lady! And only a few cuts and grazes, and a sore big toe (I must say thanks to a couple of my CACTT mates; they stuck a needle through the nail on Sunday evening after I had been in pain with my throbbing toe all Sunday afternoon. It felt so much better after that! Its still oozing yuk and I think the nail will fall off eventually.)

I was amazed that I didnt cramp during the race as I often have cramping problems but I had been taking 32Gi pills leading up to the race and these seemed to have done the trick.

Total time: 5:02:13 (leg 1: 0:47:56, leg 2: 1:24:15, leg 3: 2:50:02)

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