Mont-Aux-Sources Challenge 2015


Mont-Aux-Sources was planned as a 2 day training run to test my pack, equipment, nutrition, recovery and to get more comfortable with camping (lol!). The idea was to do the 50km challenge on Day 1 and then attempt another 10-15km easy run on Day 2 with my pack. More about how all of this went in my next post.

Breathtaking views and images

I’ve yet to experience a race more beautiful and more challenging than Mont-Aux-Sources. This is not a race (well at least not to me)…it is a CHALLENGE!  A detailed race report of my first Mont-AUX experience is available for your entertainment here. So, I won’t go into any detail about the route and the profile (3400m elevations) in this post but rather share some of the amazing images I will carry with me for a long time.

I’ve made peace with the fact that I cannot capture the beauty of the Drakensberg on an iPhone. I decided before the race not to take any photos. I didn’t want to waste time trying to take the perfect shot, however by the time I got to Sentinel Car Park I found myself lost in just the most beautiful running scenes.

It was simply…breathtaking!

…and I was back in full selfie mode (lol!)

Amazingly Brutal 

It didn’t rain but it was cold and my calves did not cooperate. I suffered SEVERE cramps as I was trying to ascent to the top via the chain ladders. The pain was excruciating and I couldn’t help but scream like a woman that’s about to give birth. I had to be unstrapped from the chain ladders to give the calves time to calm down. I really don’t wish this kind of pain on my worst enemy. I wasted so much time just sitting there not even being able to lift my head up, trying to breath thinking this will only last a few seconds but it felt like forever! I was so scared going up the chain ladders as you had to extent your reach and stretch your legs to get off the first set of chain ladders. Yes, there are two sets! I didn’t trust my calves or my arms for that matter…who knows what can happen when you hanging on for your dear life (lol!)


Photo: Courtesy

I really had a hard time getting to the top this time. I literally had to talk to myself…the operative word being…F-O-C-U-S. I was so scared that I was going to get another cramp. BUT, I MADE IT!


Once on top I was flying again…I loved every minute on top of that mountain!

But the CHALLENGE was far from over…more climbing, still not at the top!

Down the Gully

I finally made it to the top and started the dreaded descent. I have forgotten just how long and scary this section is and with most of the guys gone I felt lonely trying to find my way down this DANGEROUS GULLY.


Photo: Courtesy

It was all wet and slippery, just a single rope to hold onto. I somehow found the courage (or was stupid enough) to let go of the rope and trust my own hands and feet. It went well until I slipped and landed right on my butt. I thought that was it!

But I survived…

I started slowly again then slipped and fell and then suddenly out of the blue…freakin calf cramps…both legs…at the same time! I’ve never been so close to tears. I was just sitting there in the snow (lol!) Everything was wet…my gloves…my pants…my phone! I really thought I broke the phone. Scary part? I didn’t care to have a look. I couldn’t. I was in pain! It felt like every single muscle fibre in my calves were just torned apart!

I finally resorted to a muddy slippin slide on my bum down the gully; rather safe than sorry, right? I was a mess but I LOVED IT!

I am just in awe of the elites flying down the gully. How do they do it? They are all FEARLESS!


Back To Base Camp

Just over 7hrs and I was on my way to back to the start. I found myself in a similar situation as the year before where I had to run for my life to make that 2pm cut-off at Witsieshoek. My legs were feeling great and calves cooperated, felt like my race had just started. I was flying!


That last few kilometers are always tough in an ultra but I finished feeling great, collected my little trophy and made my way back to camp.

What an epic event. This is why I love running…just as you think you’ve seen it all you get thrown a few curve balls to test your limits and beautiful surprises like snow capped mountains!

I love Mont-AUX and will definitely be back in 2016!

Quote of the day: “Ask nothing of running and you’ll get more than you ever imagined!” Christopher Mcdougall

CRAZY STORE Magaliesberg 50km


Ever finished a run thinking “That was flippen good. I need to do more of this…got exactly what I came looking for!” Well, that was Magalies for me last Saturday after 8hrs and 30mins on the trail. It was way tougher than expected and certainly raised the bar on what I consider a great training run!


The route for the 50km “Guinea Pig” race was finalised just a few days before so no one had any idea what to expect (ignore the route profile in my previous post). The route map was only given to us on the bus and I think we all might have underestimated how tough the day was going to be…training run or not!


Magaliesberg 50km Guinea Pig Route!

magalies 50k

Magaliesberg 50km Guinea Pig Profile!

However, safe to say… IT WAS ALL WORTH IT!

The view from the top was amazing! I must admit I didn’t actually expect it to be so beautiful.

Tips From A Champion

We were shuttled with buses to the start of the race with only a few CRAZY bravehearts taking on the 50km. There were a few hardcore elite trail legends on the bus; the likes of Ryno Griesl and Jock Green. I was sitting next to another female (I think we were the only 2 females doing the 50km) and we started chatting. I wanted to know if she was an experienced trail runner (she certainly looked the part) and she replied that she’s done a few races and that she is training for the Skyrun. I told her I am also doing Magalies as a training run for ultra-trail Cape Town and it so happened that she had done ultra-trail Cape Town in 2014. Great, an opportunity to hear first hand what I am letting myself in for! She told me not to worry too much; getting up Table Mountain via Platteklip Gorge is similar to getting to the top of Magalies. Then she mentioned that she had done minimal training for ultra-trail Cape Town and she finished the 100km in 13hrs. Her view is that I will even be better prepared given that I’m still planning on doing Mont-Aux-Sources as a 2nd long run. I was quite chuffed with myself hearing all of this and was feeling really confident about how training was progressing. Then she mentioned that she’s doing most of her training at Magalies and said I must run at Magalies as well as it will be good training for Cape Town.

It later turned out (after chatting to the guys) that I was sitting next to Nicolette Griffioen, the South African Woman’s Ultratrail Champion! What a down to earth lady. Hahaha…now I am not sure about ultra-trail Cape Town anymore…”easy” has suddenly become all relative!

A Slow Start

Soon after the bus dropped the few crazies, we were off. I decided to take things really easy the first 30km. The goal was to finish in 7hrs 30 min. I was jokingly thinking to myself. “Perfect! That is exactly how much battery life my Garmin had, so hopefully I will be done before the Garmin goes”.

I was really uncomfortable carrying a 2.5l bladder and all my supplies for the day. I always feel I pack like I am going on holiday for days (lol!) but there were not going to be any water tables and who knows where you might end up (lol!). I felt slow right from the word go! I knew the start pace was going to be crazy fast with all these elite level athletes and it wasn’t long before I was right at the back of the pack and then dead last with the 2 sweepers. Yip, we joked! #TeamSweeper

I’ve never run with sweepers sitting on back (butt). I tried to shake them off but my feet went numb (didn’t see that coming!) and had to revert to run/walk within the first 2 kilometers! I told the sweepers that I was planning on running for 7hrs and 30mins and wanted to know if they are ready to run for the whole day. I didn’t actually hear a response, they probably thought I was joking (lol!).

The first 9km was all uphill, relentless forward motion…no point looking back, just climb as fast as you can! The hills were much steeper than the ones I am training on. I don’t know how many times I had to stop to catch my breath thinking ‘This is where I need to train!” It was so bloody tough but I was already planning a return trip. CRAZY!!!


I just kept going, a few more breath catching stops and before I knew it I was right at the top! Well, except it wasn’t the top…there were still a few steep hills ahead, but I was just so happy at that stage to have made it that far – the worst climbing was over!

Going The Distance

Soon the 36km front runners started to catch up with me and I was thinking it would be so easy to just join in on the 36km race from here on, but when I saw the route split markers my curiosity got the better of me! No, I didn’t come here for easy. I have work to do!


Needless to say, I was the only one turning off onto the 50km route. I can’t explain it but I love running all by myself. Running with others have benefits; I run more and for a longer period at a time (trying to keep up!) which is great for improving my time but running alone in the peace and quiet of nature (no matter how tough or rough the conditions) is when I am happiest. I see everything and I want to take pictures of everything…completely getting lost in my run and time aka… wasting time, lol!

Getting Lost!

This CRAZY race had its own plans for me. I kept missing the markers and had to back track so many times that eventually I just sat on a rock (almost in tears from frustration)…and all I could think of was in Comrades training they teach you never to stop, to keep moving in the direction of your destination and here I am sitting, catching a breath not knowing which way to go…caught between the feeling of wasting time (bye bye 7hrs 30min) and thinking what de hell, who cares?…actually… right now…sitting here…looking at the beautiful views…this is all I want to do!

Somewhere on top of Magaliesberg

Somewhere on top of Magaliesberg

But that wasn’t really practical, this is actually a race and not a leisurely hike! For the first time I took out the map, orientated myself and then just went for it. The challenge was not seeing any paths! I knew I had to stay close to the ridge so started to head in that direction. The whole time I was thinking I should probably call the emergency number seeing I am the only runner stranded on this 50k route; the sweepers had join the 36k runners (lol!)

I really had trouble spotting the white arrows or orange ribbons, my average pace was now 12min/km; that after I’ve worked so hard to bring it back to 10min/km post that massive climb!


With all things black – no sign of white arrows!

I eventually found the path at 23km and from there on it was suppose to be downhill till about 30km. Great, I was on a roll again!

Going Down

The terrain was rocky, rocky, rocky…my feet started to hurt after 20kms already. I felt a burning sensation at the bottom of my feet. For some or other reason my socks felt really hard, I could almost feel every stich of it…first indication that blisters will be forming soon. Well. there was nothing I could do about that.

It was tough running downhill. The idea was to practice going down fast but I just kept tripping over the rocks and had to settle for a gentle jog. No point risking twisting ankles or falling at this stage. I started to relax and really enjoyed just running all by myself; the pace was way off and I really did not care!

Great views and runnable section right at the bottom!

What I like most about trail races are the curve balls thrown at you when you really running low on the side of humor (35km into the race). Coming off the mountain, running in and out of a private game reserve and then suddenly…BOOM! Yip, they made me climb over that dodgy ladder. I saw the arrow, but I was still looking for a little gate next to it (lol!)


Don’t think…just do!

Craving Coke!

The race director really didn’t feel much for the CRAZY 50k runners, suddenly we were climbing again? It felt like I was going up that mountain for the 2nd time just this time round it was hot, my feet sore….and my water running out!  At 37km my Garmin reminded me that I’ve reached 7hrs and 30mins and it was calling it quits! I was still feeling good and tried to stay focus. I actually started to run again  but those hills force you to walk so I just power walked like a maniac through to the 42km mark. I craved for an ice cold Coke! Damn organisers, next time I will sponsor the refreshments for the 5oK race! I mean seriously only a handful of ultrarunners with no refreshments offered?

When I reached 42km my rescue bakkie was waiting for me. I really wanted to do the last 8km which was all downhill. I was feeling great but my time was up and I knew with no water or fuel it would probably be just a shuffle anyway so what would be the point? I know how to shuffle (lol!)

Lessons Learnt

  1. Never forget to have fun – Right now I am so focused (more like stressed) about training for ultra-trail Cape Town I sometimes forget to just relax and enjoy the run, forget about time, pace…just run and enjoy getting lost!
  2. Run steep hills – the hills were my nemesis. The once I am training on is not half as steep. I seriously need to up my game on hill training. I’m curious to experiment with poles as well; apparently it does help going up very steep sections.
  3. Train with pack – the pack with 2.5l of water irritated the hell out of me the first 5K. I consumed so much water during the first 10km just so that the pack could feel a bit lighter; I usually don’t need water during a 10k training run. I definitely need to do more training and easy runs with at least 2l of water.
  4. Shoes and socks – socks need to be checked but honestly…not one blister!!!!
  5. Feeling strong – training is paying off, yes I didn’t get to run the time I wanted however I felt great throughout the whole race. Physically I was feeling amazing with my calfs behaving, no cramps, no falls, no twisting ankles and I didn’t hit the wall…mentally let’s just say I could have ran all day!

I really enjoyed the day out. This was a great training run, a reminder of what’s to come but I feel I am ready to push myself a little harder next time.

Thought of the day: “The more I run, the more I love my body. Not because it’s perfect, far from it but because with every mile it is proving to me that I am capable of more than I ever thought possible”.

Change…As Good As A Holiday!


It wasn’t easy but I’ve beaten this winter slump!

The last 2 weeks went really well from a training perspective. I managed to get all my sessions in during the week and by the time the weekend arrived I was on a high and ready to hit the trails. I’ve introduced a few changes in my daily routine, including finding new places to run. I have no idea why but I just can’t seem to run the routes and roads I’ve been running for the last 3 years. How does the saying go? If something doesn’t work for you anymore? CHANGE IT!


…and that’s exactly what I did and it seemed to have done the trick; made a world of difference to my mental and emotional state. It’s a bit  of extra effort in the morning because I have to get into a car to to get to my new running spot (hahaha) but it’s been all worth it! I am feeling great….change is as good as a holiday!

Milestone Celebration

I’ve just hit 1000 miles for 2015 !!!


….so let’s keep this Million Miles journey going; next up is Magalies 50km trail race!

Crazy Store Magaliesberg 50km – Long Run

I am starting get really comfortable on the trails; somehow I seemed to have completely fallen off the “track” because I am starting to lose myself on the trails (lol!).

I ran the Magaliesberg 22km race in 2014 and thoroughly enjoyed it. Cramps, falling, hysterical laughter, lifting yourself (body weight) out of a hole you have no idea how you got into in the first place, taking a deep breath and then just crossing the river with your shoes on, swearing at the mile markers cos your Garmin says 23km and you still have no sight of the finish (it was a 23.5km course); that is what I love about trail running…the trial and tribulations. Never a dull moment!

This year the organisers added a Crazy 50km race! 

CRAZY 50km runners be prepared to run WILD with the wildebeest! 

A new section of the route is going through a game reserve!

Compulsory Kit (not negotiable):
1. You must carry all your own nutrition and hydration for the entirety of the run. 
2. 50km & 36km runners must carry a minimum of 2 litres, (22km runners advised to carry 1 litre), a few bars, biltong, dried fruit, gummy chews etc – whichever gets your rockets firing.
3. 50km & 36km route goes into remote areas, you must carry a wind breaker, a space blanket, a whistle and charged cell phone. Add the emergency number 072 924 2371.


The plan is to use Magalies as an “easy” long run for Ultra-trail Cape Town – predicted finish time 7 hours….ok, and 30 minutes! Seriously how difficult can this be? (hehehe…20km hike and 30km long run).

I am really excited about running this ultra trail race and at the same time I am really calm; must be getting used to the process of testing my body’s limits…got everything sorted!

  • Nutrition and hydration (check)
  • Kit (check)
  • Shoes (check)
  • Calfs and cramps (????)

All that’s left is to rest up, fuel up, stay hydrated and….to enjoy the extra long run!

Quote of the day: “Very often a change of self is needed more than a change of scene”