After the day’s prize giving formalities (no surprises here, I didn’t win anything) we headed back to “camp” to chill out till dinner. We had some good trail talk and I got some work done. Winning. Naps were also taken by many, but I needed a tougher day to be that tired. We had some hearty onion soup as well as fish and chips for dinner with me abusing the salt slightly. Extra electrolytes I told myself. A bottle of red wine also made its appearance and was a welcome addition to the table. Many a final day nerve and aching leg was calmed by this red remedy. And with that it was off to slumberland and another 7:15 race briefing.
With the dawn of the last day of three at Cradle Mayhem 2013 it seemed that the nerves had calmed slightly and the lights were only switched on around 6am. A quick check of the interwebs revealed nothing noteworthy so I decided to remove my Compressport recovery leggings and get the ball rolling. Breakfast was consumed, bottles were made and before I knew it we were back the start banner. I opted not to take a jacket and thus proceeded to jump and run around for the next few minutes to stay warm, generally looking like an idiot to the day runners that had by now assembled in droves to sign up for their 20k of toil on the trails. After a short wait for Gavin the race organiser he started the day’s proceedings in his usual casual and laid back style with the race briefing, with everyone trying to memorise the route and not get it wrong like the previous two days.
Before we knew it we were off for the last time, with the usual suspects taking an early lead as we hooked a right down the dirt road inside Maropeng. We then exited the grounds and hit a short tar stretch (the roadies can thank Gavin later) before taking another right turn into Mogale’s Gate and a left again, directed by the friendly game ranger on duty. We scooted along the jeep track next to the fence for a while with some nice views of the property to keep one company. We took a right again through a sneaky little marsh/vlei type section, which I’m sure claimed a few shoes for the day. Sloshing on our merry way we exited the property and onto another thanks to the locals manning the gate. We had a nice view of the cows in the pasture grazing as well as passing by a few dams on the property. Didn’t spot any Bass in there though, might need to pack the fishing rod for next year and give it a bash. Over a large boulder and dodging the rusty barbed wire, we then hit quite an overgrown grassy section on the adjacent property which made spotting rocks on the trail a mission, luckily neither I nor my toes or ankles encountered any lurkers. To the credit of the organisers the trail was very well marked with danger tape on the day so no issues there. We passed some friendly local’s homes and then went up the embankment and onto a main dirt road with Debbie from Wildtrail waiting to take some snaps of runners.
We went up the main hill for the day which for me was runnable after the previous 9-10km odd had been flat and fast. At the top of the hill the only aid station of the stage was located, serving both stage racers and day runners doing the 20k race. I just grabbed some water and a swig of Coke quickly and I was off, with my bottle still being more than half full with GU Roctane drink. We had a long section next to the road which in parts was actually quite beautiful, with the low warm winter sun shining on the grass that was flowing in the cool morning breeze. I tried taking a photo but a cellphone camera just can’t do such a scene justice, one has to involve all the senses. Isn’t that what trail running is really about, engaging the senses and being one with nature? Oh well one for the memory bank then I thought. The ladies were really strong in this race considering it’s non-technical nature and kept overtaking me. One actually got slightly stuck in some barbed wire but managed to get unstuck and remove the hazard from the trail. Down another little embankment I made a nice jump which Debbie managed to capture on her camera.