Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Race report: Lourensford Traverse 20km - 5 April 2014


My first trail race of the season and this was an exciting one not only because I was keen to get off the road, but also because my brother ("Big Dogg") was visiting from Canada and so it was an opportunity to showcase the Western Cape Trail running scene. The day dawned with a sunny cloudless sky with the weather forecasted as perfect and we arrived at Lourensford Estate ready to rough it.

The Lourensford Traverse is a smaller trail race organised by Quantum Adventures (www.quantumadventures.co.za), the same guys who bring you races such as Grootvaderbosch and Berg & Beach. This was to be my first race by these guys and my first event in Somerset West so I was interested to see what it offered. The course profile showed that there would be a gradual climb for the first half and then some decent downhill to finish off and, although not too technical, it would have the odd challenge thrown in there.

We kicked off and cruised along at a gentle pace. The first half is predominantly on farm roads through the estate and some foresty area. There was the odd steep hill which reduced the pace to a hike which gave plenty of opportunity to enjoy the scenery as the view from the mountainside extended all the way to Strand and Gordon's Bay. The higher we got, the more tricky the road was and the steeper the incline but we were focussed on getting to the turnaround point where we knew we would be rewarded with some downhill. We hit half-way in just over an hour which was on track with our plan.

Canal navigation by Big Dogg
The downhill section started in the apple orchards and I can neither confirm nor deny that I sampled some of the local fruit...however I can confirm that it is export quality. We put together a few quick km until we hit the canals. Most of the second half of the race was run alongside the canals which for some reason was more difficult than normal single track even though it was dead straight. This was a lot of fun and definitely something unique to this race. A few pipe crossings and a wet clay descent (where I executed a perfect wipe-out) kept things interesting. After the canal section we took it easy for a bit as the Big Dogg was still acclimatising to the South African heat and hills as his pre-race preparation had been in -10 degree weather on flat roads. This resulted in a gentle trot to the end, back where we started.

My flying Lima impression (Photo: Peter Kirk)
I thoroughly enjoyed this race and I am quite disappointed to see that it is no longer on the Quantum Adventures website which I think means they may not be hosting it again. Over the past few weeks there has been a lot of discussion amongst trail runners on the ever-rising entry costs to these events. This race was exceptionally well organised with everything from the entry and registration process, to the route markers executed professionally, and it only cost R195. Fine it is not in some crazy mountain range but, if my Strava is correct, it did still include about 730m of elevation over 20km which is not a bad morning out. A race like this will never attract the big name professional runners and I can't help but wander if one of the reasons is that people don't take a race with a cheaper fee that seriously. If this is the case, then what is everyone complaining about? The point is there are more affordable races out there but if you only want to run races that have youtube clips about them, then you can't complain about the price. I am just keen to run any race I can, and after running Lourensford, I will definitely be entering more races by Quantum.

I usually place inside the top 33% of the field. My goal is to consistently place in the top 25%. 

Distance:    19.6km
Time:         2:17:41(54min behind winner)
Position:      83/134 (62% a lower rating but I was happy enough just being out there)

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