And so… the final race in my trail running calendar for 2013, the Jabulani Challenge.
This is the 3rd year I’ve taken part in this local event and each year it just gets better.
2011 I tackled the marathon distance, riding the back of the Ironman wave from my adventures in New Zealand. I got lost, ran and extra few k’s, and clocked up nearly 46km of trails, oops! In 2012 I ran the half marathon event with friends, Isabell and Nicola. I love running with the girls, we had fun, and pulled each other through.
The Jabulani Challenge team had put on a 12km, 22km and 42km event this year, so there was something for everyone. You can run or walk this event, and they actively encourage families to take part to support their great causes, The Stellenbosch Community
Development Programme and Shoes for the Planet. Both charities focus on making a real difference in children’s lives.
This year I decided to go back to the full 42km distance, off the back of my North Face 50 and Glow Worm Marathon races I thought it would feel easier. Throw in a 2 week holiday with not much by way of running right before Jabulani and easy was looking a bit less likely!
So many friends took part in the 22km and 12km race. I hoped they wouldn’t be waiting to long for me to finish!
The course had been changed for 2013, with a loop back to the start/finish at Bobbin Head rather than a point to point where you finish somewhere completely different, causing a few logistical challenges. I prefer this option as it meant less hassle post race when I’m usually just wanting a shower, food, my trusty 2XU compression, and sofa!
It was fresh start at Bobbin Head as we got the all clear to go and then we were running. The trails were a great mix of technical single track and open fire trail so you could pick up pace where possible. I still struggle with letting myself flow with confidence on the downhill sections, something I need to continue to work on. There were a few out and backs that took a bit of mental toughness, especially out at the Wild Flower Gardens. But the course is well marshalled with aid stations, even with a few unmanned ones complete with a supply of jelly snakes, nice touch!
My NF50 training held me in good stead on the uphills as I marched, hands on knees up and up. Sometimes zig zagging at the steep concreted sections (such a shame they do this to trails!).
I ran with some great people, I just love the friendliness of trail runners! I had a few moments when I had to ‘trust’ I was on the right trail in hunt for the ‘pink tape of guidance’ but didn’t get lost once. The signage was massively improved this year which helped a lot. But not the lead pack of runners who came back past my up a climb much to my confusion, they had gone the wrong way at a creek crossing.
Derek and Tom, two of my friends doing the 22km saw me on the trail and shouted how great I was looking. This was around 24km into the event. At around 30kms the wheels started to wobble, but a upping the food intake and giving myself a good talking to helped pull me round. Once I got within 10km of the finish line it was amazing how much I mentally switched back on. You know you are going to finish and your mind just gets the body dig into those energy reserves and push a little harder.
The trails were perfect, the views out over Ku-ring-gai Chase national park made the climbs worth every step and the course was challenging and surprisingly lumpy!
When I reached a marshal who told me there was 4km to go I could of hugged her. The final few km of the run were by far the best for me, not only because you are close to finishing, the views as you hug the waters edge on the way back to the marina are stunning, and the trails are kinder allowing you to pick up the pace and get into a rhythm which lifted my energy massively.
As I crossed the bridge and rounded the corner towards the finish line I could hear the Karmea tribe shouting, whooping and cheering. It was brilliant!
The organisers are so welcoming and friendly and the race director shakes everyones hand as you finish the race. Such a great low key atmosphere and a well organised and brilliantly thought our race route. We hear that more improvements to the course will be made next year, we can’t wait.
I finished in 5hrs 11minutes, shaving 6minutes off my last trail marathon time which I was really happy with.
Thanks to everyone for the cheers along the way, the volunteers who give up their time to sit out on the course, the race organisers for another great event, my welcoming committee on the finish line and of course my hubby Warren who finished his Sunday morning bike ride at Bobbin Head so he could see me across the line and drive one tired bunny home!
Congratulations to everyone who took part, here are the Karmea tribe results. Well done team, you ROCK!
Tom 1:15:41 – 3rd overall
Adrian 1:57:16 – 5th overall
Sheryl 2:23:19 – 3rd female
Kit 2:29:23 – 6th female
Sarah Anne 5:11:30 – 4th female