Thursday, September 29, 2011

Wild Run Part II

The runners were split into two start groups with the majority (slower) starting first.  After our 7h50 day, we were clearly in the first group (we had by no means been the last the previous day!).  The run started on an uphill so as the countdown reach "go", we all walked leisurely up the hill until it reached a flat section and we began to jog.

Some neat navigation saw us pop up near the front of our group and this was given added value when we heard a lot of thrashing and cursing as a group of the "faster" runners cams mincing their way through the marshland to fall in behind us.  Pardon me while I smirk.

A shallow river crossing cropped up quite quickly and as Aileen and I were looking for a dry place to cross, she slipped and banged her knee.  Bravely hobbling on, we hoped that it would loosen up again.  The beaches were flatter and harder and we found the going much better, almost finding a crisp pace in places.  Did I mention there was a strong tailwind?

Surprisingly, I felt quite strong on the way to the check point at Dweza Nature Reserve and Brett and I and a Pat (of 23 Comrades fame) were bowling along merrily.  It was at the first serious river crossing that I realised Aileen was nowhere in sight.

I made the decision to carry on until the checkpoint and reached there feeling pretty good still. Then there were only 12km left for the day.  At the check point, one of the runners told me Aileen was battling with her knee and going along slowly at a pace she was comfortable with. With only the 12km left, I decided to carry on. Nice friend - I know!

That's probably why I found this section long and hard. I remember a long stretch of beach with huge sand dunes and realising that going over was the only option. Sadly for me, Brett had fallen back slightly as had Pat. Sadly because a young runner (Clare - see we were a friendly bunch) caught me in this section and cajoled me onward. We'd walk a bit then she get the pace going.  Damn these younger people with no respect for their elders.

The final swim was in the Mbashe River mouth about 2km from the finish (apparently rich with Zambezi Sharks). Finally I got rid of her encouraging her to go on ahead!  It was all uphill to the finish at The Haven but I ended up 44th which I was right royally impressed with.

Aileen came in about an hour later well ahead of many other runners.  Her knee was swollen and the one blister she had was quite ugly.  Grit doesn't even begin to describe her attitude - grit in spades.

On this day, a new record was set for the longest day.  Our room mates from the first night - Heather and Carlo - had come in with the sweeps in 9h43.  Heather's knee had packed up and she had limped most of the way.  I guess this is what these adventures are all about - hanging in there, determined to get to the finish.

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