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Otter report 2019

By | 40 - 60km | No Comments

Otter 2019

Introduction

It’s not often that you will hear someone returning to an event for the 8th time… Well, I did and for a trail runner who hates running the same trail or touch a treadmill where boredom might kick in this proves how much fun it is. I love coming back to the Grail of trail, the unspoilt beauty, the technicality of the trail, the tough competition and a world-class event. The Otter trail, known as the most impressive 5-day hike along the Garden Route coast is one of the most beautiful but toughest marathon distance trails I have competed in, and I love to compete for the top spot at Otter trail. Being the defending champion from the 2017 Classic route and an ever-improving Otter time, I had high expectations, despite recovering from injury 12 weeks earlier. With the right gear, plan and support team, I managed to pull-off success in 12 weeks to race competitive again, although only my 4th fastest time at Otter trail, but it gave me hope and I hope it gives others hope to what they can achieve with the right focus and plan. Otter, is a mental refresher, nature’s way to teach you mindfulness and a test for the human’s capabilities!

 

Event overview

It’s not often that you will hear someone returning to an event for the 8th time… Well, I did and for a trail runner who hates running the same trail or touch a treadmill where boredom might kick in this proves how much fun it is. I love coming back to the Grail of trail, the unspoilt beauty, the technicality of the trail, the tough competition and a world-class event.

Whenever I congratulate one of the Collins brothers about another successful year, they humbly respond that they are passionate about athletes who can run fast over technical terrain, and that’s why they have created the Otter trailrun. www.otter.run

I have been to many events across the globe, but I ascertain you, this event won’t let you down. The amount of detail and perfection that goes into this keeps on surprising year on year! Well done team Magnetic South!

If you want to be on the start line next year and be sure of success check out our website: www.alpasfit.com for customized online coaching.

Bloukrans Crossing by Jacques Marais

Route overview – Classic

The Classic Otter trail, mostly known as the most prestigious 5-day hike along the Garden Route coast is one of the most beautiful but toughest marathon distance trails I know of. If you want to familiarise yourself with what you will be doing, take a hike to the first waterfall at Sorms River rest camp and you should get a good idea of what you will be in for. You will experience boulders, stairs, 7300 of them, roots, forests, loose pebbles, water crossings, beaches and when lucky, some runnable trail. All these obstacles will keep your mind focused on the task at hand, to get to Nature’s Valley alive! Otter, is a mental refresher, nature’s way to teach you mindfulness and a test for the human’s capabilities!

 

The training experiment

At some point in an athlete’s career, you will face injury as one of many challenges. I managed to escape this since 2013, but in 2018 it all started to come back, suffering from a labrum tear in my hip, constant knee pain and eventually Plantar Fasciitis the final trump which took me out of running from  March until June. By this time, I was not only unfit, but lost hope and motivation and not to mention the 7kg weight I gained over the passive winter months. When I was finally cleared to run again, it took a few weeks to get my motivation back, and I needed a BIG goal to pump my veins full of adrenaline again! And there it was, Otter Classic, my favourite race only 12 weeks away.

My track coach, Ernie always said you can work well with a 12-week block of training to reach a good marathon time, and here I was, ready to be the experiment of our theoretical beliefs. I worked on a plan, chose a few milestone races and went for gold. There was also a bit of pressure here, as I was the defending champion in Otter and have successfully improved my time year on year since my first otter in 2011.

It took me 6 weeks of consistent running before I believe I could run 40km again, another 4 weeks before I started thinking of competing again. After 8 weeks of consistent training, I took part in the Table Mountain Challenge 44km trail and I was by no means at a competitive level yet, but got away with a podium. TMC was a good indication of what was still lacking and I gave strength training more focus. I also slowly saw a decrease in my weight after giving up my calorie cravings, which mostly came in the form of fermented red grape juice. 😊

 

Product Overview

Without the right gear it would be impossible to run a 5-day trail in less than 5 hours.

The Garmin Fenix 5x Plus is the one piece of equipment I use every minute of the day. The Garmin with its built-in wrist heart rate monitor allows for accurate monitoring of resting heart rate, which I track religiously to monitor recovery and potential illness. To me Otter is well calculated effort to achieve my time and once again I compiled my racing and pacing plan with the help of the TrainingPeaks app keeping me up to date of the minutes I loose on my ambitious winning plan 😊

The balance between Biogen electrolytes and gels kept me on a constant energy level and allowed me to sustain energy levels throughout the race. I also used one of the newly launched vegan bars and found it easy to digest and full of nutritional super powers. https://www.biogen.co.za/products/well-range/plant-based-protein-bar/

As we had only level 1 weather conditions the only emergency gear we required was the K-Way Windproof jacket. One of my favourite K-Way products are the white arm protectors which helps for both cold and sun protection. http://www.kway.co.za/

 

adidas Terrex Agravic Boa trail shoes proofed to be the best shoe for Otter trail A Boa® Closure System offers a personalised fit, while a grippy Continental™ Rubber outsole holds the trail even in wet conditions. I found this model to be wider than its predecessors, and I suggest going half a size smaller than your normal size. https://shop.adidas.co.za/wm-agravic-boa-shoes-320515.html?

Instinct 4.5L Ambition Trail Vest proofed to be exactly what I needed. Lightweight, breathable and designed by a runner! The 4.5L could easily fit 2 650ml soft flasks, a phone, waterproof jacket, and enough nutrition for the duration of the trail. https://instincttrail.co.za/trail-vests-and-bags.html#volume=45l

Often times runners neglect their feet which is the most important asset out on the trail. I use Versus Socks to protect my feet from blisters. Even going through the many rivers and sandy sections which creates sand-paper which is bad for any foot. www.versussocks.com

This was not my best Otter to date, but certainly a memorable Otter run, as I have witnessed records shatter, saw the new young talent coming through and could celebrate a double podium with my wife Landie and our son Christopher after a rollercoaster year of injury, work, running a business and launching the Maxi race one week before Otter. I am exhausted and relieved but praise God for the energy to live life to the fullest! On a bus to my next adventure: Cappadocia Ultra trail in Turkey this weekend.

7 Summits for starting chance

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In a bid to raise funds for differently-abled children to enjoy the freedom to move and learn, South African trail runner Christiaan Greyling will climb seven summits in seven days with his son joining him on one of the days.

I will raise funds for a state-of-the-art special care school with a clinic and specially-designed playground to aid movement

“My new challenge aims to make people aware of the challenges that disabled children face. To do this I will summit seven Western Cape mountains, of more than 1000m vertical ascent each, in seven days to raise funds for a state-of-the-art special care school with a clinic and specially-designed playground to aid movement,” Greyling says.

By summiting a mountain, a day I’m aiming to raise one rand for every one vertical metre climbed during the week by any of the club members, with the final goal being R50 000,” he says.

As a club we climbed a combined total of 42,768m

With the help and donations we have raised more than the vertical meters and raised a total of R40 000 to date!

Why Starting Chance

His charity of choice is Starting Chance, A non-profit organisation in Mfuleni in Cape Town. The project partially funded by HomeChoice is committed to to making a difference in the lives of children in the early childhood sector.

Why summits?

“By summiting mountains, we experience freedom and by moving, we can give freedom to others.

The Biggest challenge was not the physical activity as initially expected, but with this project came many more logistical nightmares to juggle during a normal work-week. The normal daily challenges which include work, meetings, health, a baby with high fever, a car accident, 4 birthdays, a business to run, family dynamics and to stay true to my commitment of summiting 7 mountains and getting an elevation of 1000m every day.

Mountains summited during the week of 9-15 September

 

Summit 1: Du Toits Kop peak 9 Spetember

Summit 2: Stellenbosch mountain 10 September

 

Summit 3: Table MaClears Bea

Summit 5: Helderberg Dome

 

 

 

 

 

Summit 4: Simonsberg – The Cold One

 

 

 

Summit 6: Table Mountain

The 7th Summit

After I have completed 6 summits relatively easy, one could imagine the 7th summit would also go smooth as I have a full day to take control of my commitment. Our day started in Greyton where we camped for a good friend’s 40th birthday. Myself and my wife Lanide break camp at 6am and left for Worcester to drop our baby at my sister’s house while we summit Sneeukop. Halfway up the mountain, we realized we will not make it back in time, and following the whatsapp communication, he was not happy at all. My sister was hosting her boy’s 8th birthday and there was no way we could expect other people to give up their commitments because of ours. After weighing up options and risks, with one cellphone and one car, I realised that I must abandon this mountain.

 

We then spent time with our family and I have then planned to summit a familiar mountain that night in Stellenbosch as I now had 500m ascent for the day. As I played around with various emotions I read this text on the wall; Joshua 1:9 – Be strong and courageous, do not be frightened and not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.

The plan was to start at 5pm with my good friend Gabriel. As we left the parking for the trail, we heard a loud noise and to our shock we noticed that someone bumped into his parked bakkie. The worst was that the bakkie was committed to a buyer from Gauteng the previous day.

I felt partially responsible, so I went with him to report the case and 45 minutes later we were back at the start of the trail. We secured safer parking but as we were about to start I received a phone call from my wife that our baby’s got a fever of 39.

By now I was convinced that this summit is not for me to conquer, but the summit is an emotional one, a spiritual battle to overcome. We found an after hours pharmacy and with the help of my doctor sister, I got the right medication. On our way home, Landie said the fever settled and suggested that we climb the final mountain. At 18:25 we started our ascent up Botmaskop from Stellenbosch but I prayed and a lot for a safe summit to complete this project. It was a beautiful crisp evening, but Botmaskop is sketchy in places and has a very high crime rate.

 

At 19:30 I popped out at the top of Botmaskop with a total ascent of 1250m for the day and 8373m for the week relieved, thankful and praising God for the health to climb mountains, and his blessings throughout the project. I felt a feeling of achievement, of completion and found it very applicable as the number 7 in Hebrew exactly means completion.

I soon realised that while we have to juggle to keep all the balls in the air we forget about the struggles differently abled kids has to overcome. A simple task to make your own food or walk to the school does not even exist in some peoples reference. This challenge to me was not about the money we raised, but it gave me the reason for introspection to how fast we live our lives without noticing the people around us and the people who struggle.

 

 

 

 

Support

As we have to support those who can’t help themselves, I have to thank the people who supported me during this project, because without you it would not have been possible to raise R40 000+, climb 8374m during a normal work week and experience all these amazing views on top of the mountains. Kirsty Hatt for doing all the project communication, media and for your positive attitude, Starting Chance for the great work which you do. My friends who supported, ran with me, listened to my story and contributed to my course, my family who supported, smiled and even climbed with me when they could. My sponsors for sharing the story and equipping me with the best equipment to do what we do.

Seven summits for a good cause

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I’ll be summiting 7 mountains (+1000m) in 7 days this week for charity. The purpose is to raise R1 for every 1m (vertical) climbed. Total funds raised will go to the Lonwabo Project for a special needs school and playground to aid movement for disabled children in Mfuleni, Cape Town. Please donate or climb your bit for disabled children. Move for those who can’t. Join my Strava Club 7summits4SC or donate via Givengain 7 Summits for Starting Chance.

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By | 40 - 60km | No Comments

What is Grand Raid Pyrenees?

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By | 60 - 100km | No Comments

What is Skyrun?

Skyrun is a 100km foot race over the Witteberg mountains at an average altitude of 2000m above sea-level. It is tough, relentless and challenging, and for this exact reason hundreds of runners come together in the small town of Lady Grey to test their faith and courage against the toughest challenge known to any South African Trail Runner. We suffer, sweat, share laughs and tears for up to 30 hours in some of the most remote places on earth. We dehydrate, get altitude sickness, vomit, get sunburned. We learn that our heads are stronger than our bodies, we pick ourselves up out of despair, run forth, jump fences, make new friends, see amazing views and test our gear against the elements of nature. We do this all for one reason: To finish and be a known as a “Skyrunner”!! Read More