Michael Bester does the Dryland Traverse

From the dark damp fissures of the world renowned Cango Caves, to the snow packed peaks of the mighty Swartberg mountain range, this is the Dryland Traverse and it is a race like no other. From an underground start to an eventual cresting of the highest mountain range in the Cape, there simply is no equal when it comes to a sense of achievement, setting and the overall spirit – the Dryland Traverse is a must for every adventure seeker.

That’s how the guys at Drylands Event Management sucker you into entering this special 4 Day Trail Running Stage Race. This year there was No Snow, just pure Karroo heat!

My journey over the 4 days went as follows:

Day 1: Prolougue 8km: 37min:58s

I found this to be the hardest day. Even though it’s the shortest day distance wise, the body has travelled for 4 hours, set up tents and camp site and has to get used to 40 degree Oudtshoorn Heat.

Individuals are set off at 30sec intervals in to the darkness of the Cango Caves. In the Caves the Climate is cool moist air and the floors are very slippery underfoot. Once you exit the caves you hit a heat wave and extremely thin air, Heart Rate rockets 208bpm and it’s all about survival for the next 6.5km.

Day 2: Swartberg Mountains 33km: 3h:18m

This was my best day, we started off with a 6km climb with 1000m Vertical Ascent which took me exactly an hour to reach the top, from there on it was 27km of mixed jeep track & single track trail running, climbing a further 800m vertical, all in sweltering 38+ degrees.

I managed to win this day and grow my lead by 15 minutes.

Day 3: Raubenheimer Dam 23km: 1h:55m

This day was my day to “survive” I had done a lot of work the day before and punished the legs. This stage has a lot of jeep track running with the odd single track technical section. Very easy to get into a rhythm and loosen up the legs, however, Second position went out at a fast pace and managed to put 5 minutes into me, bringing my lead down to 10minutes.

Day 4: De Hoek 10km: 45m:33s

This day was race on, I knew 2nd place was not going to take 10minutes out of me over 10km however in my heart I really wanted to win the stage. My game plan, hold 2nd place for as long as possible and make a technical move later on. However that technical move came a lot earlier than expected, when 2nd place was walking up the first climb and I was feeling fantastic, I smashed the hill and never looked back, managing to win the stage and grow my lead with a 1 minute.

Total over the 4 days: 75km, 3600m Vertical Ascent, 6hr:36 min.

This year’s build up to Drylands would not have been possible without the help of Richard Lawrie & MTD Team & Squad. The specific strength training Exercises, Long runs & Squad speed sessions all helped me reach my goal of winning the Solo Men’s Category. I will be back next year stronger and faster to defend my 2017 title.


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