3 Cranes Challenge
KWAZULU NATAL MIDLANDS
The 3 Cranes Challenge took place from the 24th-26th February in the Karkloof Valley just outside Howick in the Natal Midlands. Arriving at night didn’t give me much of an opportunity to appreciate the scenery and the pouring rain bode a hard run for the 1st leg the next morning. We ran through such beautiful valleys, across the rolling hills and I wish I could have stopped and spent more time just drinking in the scenery, this little piece of heaven, but when you are racing, the clock is ticking!
The race took place over 3 days and we covered 106 kilometers in total, divided into 32kms, 42kms and 32kms respectively. 220 Athletes entered and started at 6am the 1st morning but only 172 managed to finish the 3 days. The first day was by far the most technical and the last 6kms were marked by very slippery, steep downhill running. It took me 4h45 min to complete and placed me 115th overall.
The second day started off on a 4.5km climb and took us to breathtaking scenery. The last 6kms broke us to pieces and standing in one of the many stream crossings I decided that it was time for new running shoes….not recommended by anybody who runs or knows off running, but no new shoe could hurt me more than what I had experienced on this day. I completed the grueling leg in 6h06, placing me 94th overall after 2 days. With blue toes and blisters I set off to Pietermaritzburg to Poobie Naidoo’s where I bought “what felt like slippers”, my new trail shoes.
Ten toes bandaged and plasters around my ankles to keep the blisters covered, I set out on the 3rd morning in my new shoes. This was a 4am start and what a sight it was looking back and seeing all the little lights from my fellow runners making their way through the veldt. I felt light; almost as if I had wings on my feet, the new shoes were working. I can’t remember the last time I have felt and managed to end so strong on any race as this day. I completed the 3rd and final leg in 3h56, finishing 79th overall and 11th in my age and gender group.
Our base camp overlooked a small dam, where the athletes and spectators, especially the kids, utilized the cold water to cool down in and just relax and have fun. We could book a post-run massage every day which aided us in our recovery process. Nutritional meals were part of the package and we even learned more about the Wildlands Conservation Trust and what they are working towards.
This was a tough race, probably one of the hardest I have ever done, not just physically but also mentally and I often motivated myself thinking of Lewis, the campaign and what I wanted to achieve….it kept me going right till the end. And a week later, I’m thinking of going back next year and the year after to get my permanent number…..An amazing race, I made every step count.