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!)
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!)
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.
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!
BUT I SURVIVED…AGAIN!
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