The 4th Pronutro African X took place on the weekend of 16 -18 March 2012 in Kleinmond. The change in date from May to March was primarily aimed at ensuring better running weather as previous years were known for having less favorable weather. But even this year, Mother Nature had a few tricks up her sleeve and gave us a run for our money!
The 1st setback came when my partner, Elize Kruger, had to withdraw 3 weeks prior to the race due to illness, and the 2nd setback was when I severely pulled my calf muscle 8 days prior to the race. I was feeling down and out and I didn’t have high hopes for the race, but I knew I just had to be there, for the sponsors, for my supporters and for Lewis. I nursed my calf and with the help of a wonderful sport massage therapist, Warren Solomons, I manage to recover over the 8 days to the point where I was able to run….not my normal pace, but at least run. The organizers linked me with Ian Ross, who runs to raise money and awareness for a charity called African Tales, and whose partner also had to withdraw because of an injury, and so 2 Strangers, became the new “Team Wynne for Lewis”. On Thursday night we met, had supper and over a quick Hunters Extreme got to know a little bit more about each other, knowing we would have lots of time over the next 3 days and 90km’s to come, to really get to know the other. So we bid each other a good night, hoping in our hearts, that we were going to survive and not disappoint the other over the next 3 days.
The first stage started out in Betty’s Bay as in previous years, but this year the stage was lengthened from 25 to 32km, adding a scenic circular route not seen on previous years. We had a sunny start to the race, unknowing what lied ahead for us. The first six odd kilometers consisted of open jeep track followed by a long beach run, just to warm up the legs and to sort out the front of the field.
We reached the first water point at about 7km where runners entered the magical Harold Porter Reserve. Here we faced the almost 1000m vertical climb to the top of the mountain, the stairway to heaven for some and to hell for others as it seemed like a never ending story. Once we reached the top, we were rewarded with breathtaking scenery and for me and team mate Ian, this was the point where the clouds caught up with us and soon we found ourselves quite drenched. But as running has it, after the up there must be a down and we were rewarded with a tantalizing technical downhill followed by a mysterious luscious section of indigenous forest.
Next came the loop and we could stretch our legs and enjoy the scenery. I would like to go back sometime and sit on that little beach next to the river, which was so tempting, but wasn’t quite included in our time schedule. We finished day 1 in a time of 04:20:43.
Day 2’s 34km’s started at Honingklip just outside of Kleinmond and kicked off in a very unforgiving way, as 400 pairs of tired cold muscles had to crawl their way up a 7km climb, after which the jeep track flattened out to the first water point at about 13km. Team Wynne for Lewis felt quite strong and today there was no rain predicted, and we had a cloudy cool day, perfect running weather. My calf muscle started acting up a bit as we reached the final water point. We only had 8km’s to go, and the worst was yet to come. We made our way through what I would describe as a swamp, but we were rewarded with a sighting of the Wild Horses and then the Breaker…..a 7km beach run at high tide!! We kicked of our shoes and socks and dragged ourselves through ankle deep soft beach sand for the next hour and sighed a sigh of relief as we finished day 2 in 03:55:52.
The highlight of the weekend came when Lewis arrived on Saturday night, with the Assault Riderz Bikers Club, who left Johannesburg on the Wednesday, and did a rally down to Kleinmond, in support of Lewis and my campaign. It was quite an emotional moment for me!
Lewis and the Bikers accompanied us to the start of Day 3. Although a bit hesitant, Lewis pushed the horn to set us off and once again we kicked off with a nasty climb. 24km’s didn’t seem that far and the beach run was only going to be 200meters…so I was on a high, knowing that Little Brave Heart was there, waiting at the end to see me finish. We had one last climb to test our endurance after the last water point and then mostly downhill home.
There are no words to describe my feelings and emotions when we came into the finish and the Bikers saluted us home with the crowd cheering us on. Looking at Lewis’s big smile and happy face, made me realize that it was all worthwhile and just reminded me why I was doing all of this….I would do it all over again. We finished in 02:25:53.
Photo Credit ~ www.oakpics.com
Our combined time for the 3 days was 10:42:28 and Team Wynne for Lewis ended 51st overall of 200 teams, and 14th in the Open Mix Category with 33 teams in total. I had an absolute ball and could not have asked for a better running partner, so I salute me team mate, Ian Ross, and I hope I can keep him to the commitment of going back to challenge the Veterans Mix Cat in 2 years time!
I would like to thank Stillwatersports Team, Dezroy Poole, Leandra and Jackie for all they did for me and Lewis on the weekend, without you guys it would not have been possible. Thanks to Keaton and New Balance for sponsoring our running kit and thanks to Oakpics for the pictures taken during the race.
Last but not least at all, a HUGE thanks to my fiancé, Gary Ross, who supports me and was there with me every step of the way – You are the Wind Beneath my Wings.