Monday, 7 October 2013

Race Report: Rhino Run Kenton - 22 September 2013

The Rhino Run
(Photo credit: )
Last minute holidays are always the best as you don't have all those months of planning and pondering on what to do with all your free time, so you naturally do the first thing that comes to mind which is usually the best thing anyway. So when we decided last week to head down to our old romping ground, Grahamstown, for some well-timed nostalgia, naturally the first thing I did was to hit the worldwide to see what trail runs were on offer. We had played this well as we drove up to the G-town on the Saturday just in time to shoot off to Kenton on Sunday morning for the local edition of the Rhino Run.

The Rhino Run ( is a heap of trail runs happening in cities and towns all over South Africa on the same day and raises money for the continuing battle against the endangerment of these incredible animals. The Kenton run had a 20km, 12km and 6km run on offer and I entered the 20km with the Lady Falcon doing the 12km, her longest run in about 3 years due to injury.

We got there early and managed to registere pretty quickly however it seemed that everyone had the idea of arriving exactly half an hour before the start without preregistering. This meant a long queue and a delayed start by about 40 minutes. Usually this would have frustrated me but we were on holiday and everyone was just in such good spirits (one guy was even drinking the spirits at 9am) that we just chilled and enjoyed the sun. The delayed start meant we kicked off at about 09h40 and were running in the heat of the day. I really struggled with this as the cold summer in Cape Town has left me quite unprepared for running in the sun.

Running over dunes is a totally different story
(Photo credit:
The first 5km were all on the beach including some running over the dunes which was difficult. I set off at a pace but I felt comfortable so I thought I would keep at it and see how far the early energy would take me. I ran in my Inov-8s which have exceptional drainage but unfortunately this also meant that a lot of sand got into my shoes which added on some extra grams, not ideal when you running on soft sand. At about the 6km point I started to tire and realised that beach running is seriously different from normal trail running, I started readjusting my long term plans of one day competing in one of the desert races.

After heading back towards the start we went on a brief beach forest type trail (on a bit harder sand) and then back on the beach for a long coastal stretch. This was the best part of the run, the sand was wet and harder and we got to just head out beside the sea on one of those untouched type beaches that only the Eastern Cape can deliver. It included some good rock hopping and even on the slippery seaweed my Inov-8s had loads of grip and I felt confident.

At about the 10km point there was a much needed water table. I was really struggling at this stage and I was considering changing to the 12km run but then I thought that that would be really lame. To drop from a 20km? Come on. So I pushed on, hurting and realising that a 2 plate portion of curry and rice is probably not the best pre-race dinner.

Some of the incredible terrain we were running on
(Photo credit:
From the water table we headed through a new eco estate type complex and although I got passed by a few people, I was happy enough not competing but just running to enjoy the scenery. At one point I was leading a group of 3 of us and we got a bit lost but managed to get back on track after not too much wasted time or energy. I thought I would get over it at this point until I saw how bleak one of the guys I ran past was and I realised that things could be a lot worse. He had serious sense of humour failure which was surprising as he was wearing a Rhodes University vest and they are normally awesome people with lots of humour in their senses.

The last 5km was back along the same stretch of the beach which was incredible once again. I was really tired at this point and pretty dehydrated and very hot but still loving every step. We ended with a short swim across the river (not quite the Bloukrans but still hectic) and up to the end.

It was a hot and tough race and I didn't feel or do well but I still loved it. The vibe afterwards was awesome as everyone hung around on the beach and enjoyed some morning beers. The Eastern Cape has a certain chilled atmosphere about it that you just wish existed everywhere in the world, but then I guess you also wish that it remains unique to the Eastern Cape as that is one of the things that make it such a special province.

Race summary As a benchmark I usually look to get inside the top 33% of the field and for interest sake look at where I placed amongst the other categories. My goal is to consistently place in the top 25%.

Distance:    20km
Time:          2:00:26 (29min behind winner)
Position:      14/37 (37.8%) - Not the best but quite a small field. I needed to be 1 min faster to be top 33% (quicker swim!) and 4 min faster to be top 25%
Open men:   13th

Where I would have placed in:
Open Ladies: 2nd (no 1 lady was 15 min ahead of me and 5th overall so I would have been a comfortable 2nd)

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