After some stretching, a GU Recovery Brew and some friendly banter between fellow runners we made our way back to our digs for a hot shower and even hotter food. Pasta with meatballs was on the menu for some impromptu carbo loading, with most runners having a second helping. Yum! With a 7:15 race briefing, it was early to bed and soon all that could be heard was the gentle sounds of hominid slumber.
The second day dawned, earlier for some than others! It was obvious that for the first time stage racers the nerves had kicked in, as I could here the strapping tape being applied in the dark somewhere around 5am already. I tried catching a few more winks but sometimes the needs of the few outweigh those of the many and at about 5:30am the lights were turned on. Having meticulously packed my kit for each day in Ziplock bags I didn’t have to get up this early (race briefing was only at 7:15am remember!) but I was just delaying the inevitable. Laziness prevailed and I kitted up still sitting in bed, which was a good idea considering how the wind was blowing outside. After a quick brekkie and the necessary application of face and bum cream (always the face first!) we piled into the car for a quick drive to the start area.
Despite it being quite cool and windy it didn’t seem to put a damper on anyone’s spirits and the vibe at the starting area was great, with the music pumping and athletes chatting excitedly about the day that was to come. Soon it was time to ditch the warm clothing in the car and line up under the Salomon start arch for the day’s race briefing. I tried listening more intently to the briefing this time and prevent the previous evening’s little “oopsie”, but soon enough the proverbial gun was fired, we were off and most of that was forgotten as the adrenaline kicked in.
We started off on some dirt roads heading towards the Cradle of Human Kind valley, which helped to spread out the field of 70 odd trail runners quite nicely as everyone settled into their comfortable pace. For the front runners it was nothing near comfortable however, as they were easily averaging upwards of 4:30 minutes per kilometer with the fast and flat terrain. We quickly reached the first aid station that was to be used on our return as well, which I passed by as I was carrying two full bottles with me.