Words: Tori Leckie, www.fitchicksandfastwomen.com ǀ Photos: Anthony Grote, www.anthonygrote.com
When I sit down to write about a race, I think about the hook. You know, some great action, complex drama or unfolding mystery to make central to my story, words to keep the reader engaged from start to finish. But when it came to writing about Dube’s King Shaka Trail Run & Queen Nandi Night Run, I found myself a little lost for said hook. I rattled my brain, replayed the morning's run and the night that preceded, but nothing groundbreaking came to me.
Photos by: Anthony Grote, www.anthonygrote.com
And then I realised that this is really what trail running should be all about. A part of our lives without complex drama and in its place, a chance to enjoy the sheer and stunningly simple act of running free, just like when you’re a child.
Running under blue skies on gorgeous trails, feeling totally immersed in nature, enjoying the company of others who share our love for the trail and understand too how it may not always be easy, but it sure as hell is rewarding and a wonderful way to find balance in our ever-hectic schedules. And there it was – my hook!
This race embodied this very concept and turned out to be a perfect way to spend a weekend. Held on Saturday and Sunday past (22/23 March 2014) at Dube Tradeport, a stone’s throw from King Shaka Airport in Durban, the event really did have something for all and at the end of both my runs, I saw nothing but wide smiles and total contentment.
On the Saturday evening was a night run of 5 km or 10 km, along with a free 3 km fun run. I did the 10 km run and enjoyed an electric atmosphere from start to finish. Of course, running at night left little trail to view, but watching the sun set was quite spectacular and reminded me of yet another reason why Durban is such a fabulous city. I find running at night quite a magical experience, a moving meditation as you focus solely on this little beam of light ahead of you, oblivious to all beyond and beside it. It feels peaceful and a wonderful antidote to our daily lives where we indulge, every moment, in a feast of colour and texture, objects and subjects, reminders and memories. A team was on hand to paint glow-in-the-dark stripes on willing competitors, which looked great when night fell.
The race route was wonderfully varied. Forever undulating, it involved some road, some jeep tracks, some rocks, some grass, some marshland and lots and lots of sugar plantations with knee-high grass to contend with. Such terrain is testing on the ankles for even the most seasoned of trail runners, but the lack of steep ascents make this event a great entry point for newbie trail lovers and roadies who have finally seen the light ; )
Continuing on Sunday morning, distances were 25 km or 10 km, with the free 3 km fun run once again. The first 10 km followed the same route as the night before, but this time round we got to really enjoy the views. A misty morning made for a stunning start to the day as the sun burnt through and mist lifted, which created some glorious silhouettes of the trees and hills in the distance. I wondered just how many times both my fellow competitors and I have driven past this stretch of lush, dense green land on the neighbouring highway and realised just how much opportunity for adventure lies within. Back at base, sponsor Dube Tradeport’s HQ, there was a giant screen and huge, inviting pile of bean bags, as well as food, drinks and kids entertainment.
The team behind the scene was Riverside Trail. Being my trail group, you might argue that I’m biased, but really, the entire set-up, organisation, route markings and all the rest were faultless and I confess I do have a pretty big pool of races to draw from being an avid runner, global traveller and at least, according to most, a very part-time worker!
Photos by: Anthony Grote, www.anthonygrote.com
As for my own race, the night run ran like a dream (sorry!). The morning 25 km started off well, but I had a giant blister to contend with, something I don’t ever have a problem with, and then a bit of a fall near the end. The vitamin I (aka Ibuprofen) I took to soften the pain oozing from the blister clearly masked the pain from the fall because only when the vits wore off did I realise the intensity of the pain coming from my knee and resulting inability to move. I now type this very article horizontally, with frozen peas in one hand and a glass of wine in the other, which needless to say is just another method of pain relief. Perhaps even a healthy one at that, given the main ingredient counts as one of our five a day!
I look forward to next year's Dube already and hearing others regale their tales from the trails. The event will continue to grow, of that I have no doubt, thanks to the sublime setting and faultless organisation. This year was the third rendition; the first took place in 2012 and was a one-day-only event with 250 entries. This year, for the first time, there were back-to-back events and a night run that saw entries top 1,000, making it the biggest event in the Durban area.
A big thank you to Riverside, ROAG, Dube Tradeport and every single volunteer for putting on an excellent show. I think sometimes, we fail to recognise just how much work goes on behind the scenes to put these events on, especially races like these where the entry fees are so minimal that it really is a labour of love by those with a wonderful will to support the trail running community and share the priceless benefits and rewards it brings us.
Over and out.
For more information about this event, visit www.facebook.com/pages/Riverside-Trail/106900356106240?fref=ts