Almost two months ago I wrote about my Retto Prologue. That blog covers details of the race and my motivation for running it. It may be Well overdue but here is my write-up for the race that took place the following day. I watched the recorded footage of the race on SuperSport (a South African satellite television sports provider) last week and I managed a fraction of a second of airtime as I descended a hill just behind one of the leading ladies, but you will need to read on to find out who…
Race morning started off with a bus trip from our accommodation at Storm’s River to Natures Valley. It was a chilly morning as we waited on the beach for the staggered start to begin so I stood around in my waterproof to keep warm until it was time for me to move into the corral. Setting off with the other three guys in my batch I started out at a fairly brisk pace along the beach and soon was running on my own with some of the earlier seeding batches visible in front of me. Within 500 metres of the start we forded a tributary to wet our feet for the first occasion of the day and then left the beach for the first major climb of the day. Upon reaching the top of the first hill the course followed along the top of the cliff for the longest flat section of the race, and it provided an introduction to the stunning scenery to follow.
I gradually overtook people as I ran and decided to count off the females that I passed as a way to track progress through the field. After more than 5 km along the top of the cliff we commenced our descent to Andre Hut, where hikers stop for their final night. From Andre Hut there was a steep climb, followed by a short cliff-top section, and then another steep descent. From there we continued along beaches and sections of beach-side forest until we reached the famed Bloukrans crossing.
During one of the beach-side sections of trail I was jumping a log across the path when I grazed the top of my foot along a branch only to hear the snap of plastic that I instinctively knew was the sound of my foot pod disconnecting. Sure enough I looked down to find that the foot pod clip was still under the laces but no pod was attached. I decided to give myself a minute to look for it. I started searching the path and brush around the log but soon realised that I was not going to find it. By the time I lost the pod I had overtaken five of the females ahead of me, but one slowed down just enough to ask if everything was alright as I searched. I confirmed that I was fine, gave up the search and took off behind her. The additional problem was that while I normally switch off the auto-pause functionality on my watch during races, I had forgotten to do so on this occasion. Since my foot pod (or lack thereof) now indicated that I was not moving my watch had therefore paused. As I took off along a stretch of technical single track I had the additional complexity of stopping my watch, reconfiguring it to disable auto-pause, and then restarting it. But I was on the move again and heading towards Bloukrans.
As the major river crossing along the route Bloukrans can run below knee height at certain times of the year during low tide, but for the race this year it involved a 50-metre swim across water that was 2 metres deep. As we scrambled along a rocky section towards the river I overtook the fourth-placed female again, reached the water’s edge and quickly jumped in. A line was stretched out across the river so I pulled myself across hand over hand until I could stand and wade out to the shore on the other side. Then, as followed most of the river crossings along the route, we faced another steep climb. During the climb I overtook the third-placed female and soon found myself behind the two leading females: Krissy Moehl and Landie Greyling.