We drove the half marathon course the day before… my goal was now to be faster than the vehicle could drive. The race started in the morning with a very pleasant temperature… the first 1½ km’s, whilst rough, were down hill and then the course provides you with the first steep challenge of approx. 1km. It wasn’t too bad, and if you wanted to walk there was plenty of Impala to view on the way up.
Over the top of the hill and along the flat, that is where the excitement of the run, well, turned really exciting!!! I ran about 500M and there was the ranger trying to stop the rhino’s getting across the track… when I stopped to take photo’s he told me to keep running, ok, I don’t need to be asked twice.
Another few hundred metres and I glanced to the left… I had seen the wildebeest stampede on my left earlier, obviously they went over to the marathon runners, got spooked and where heading back, in my direction!!! Forgetting time, I ran for tree coverage and stood there whilst the herd stampeded past me… I took some nice shots but was too scared to have the presence of mind to change the camera to video, anyway too late…
I watched the last wildebeest head across the track and then decided to return to the run. Just before the next water stop I managed to catch-up to the runner in front of me… I yelled out that a herd of antelope type animals (Blesbok I think?) with massive antlers/horns were heading in our direction. By the time he said “what do we do?” the herd had sped up, dropped their antlers/horns down and went either side of us… now my heart was really pumping!
The rest of the race was pretty tame from then on in, running down Yell Wood Valley – it was so steep where it felt like your feet would come out the front of your runners but the views where just magnificent. We were joined prematurely by the marathon runners who had their course altered (thanks to the elephants finding the banana station). Down to the bottom and running through lose sand (Tech tip – leave new socks at water stop D) and then back up the valley. At this stage I was averaging under 5.30mins per kilometre… the first kilometre of Yellow Wood took me 19minutes – it was a killer.
Anyway, eventually over the top, a few km of gentle down slop, across 4km of rough rocky road and the longest 1km of downhill I have ever run. Over the finish line and straight to the massage tables and showers… the most unbelievable running experience of my life and I have done a lot of adventure runs. Just the fact you know the animals are there, the terrain and views and the continued encouragement of anyone you met along the way
I could not recommend this enough!!!