Lara Paul Tackles Table Mountain Challenge:
Leading up to the Table Mountain Challenge I was full of excitement. I get to run around my favourite mountain, snack along the way, and meet really cool people. I was pretty excited. It was only 7km longer than my longest run so far. How hard could it really be?
Well the mountain met up to the challenge. There I was standing at the starting line, looking up at the mountain (which you could not see because it was so misty) and rethinking my decision to run this race. But the whistle blew and we were off.
After a vertical hill we eventually ended up at the pipe track, 5km in, and it starts pouring with rain. Absolutely soaked we start making our way up our first big climb. Halfway up the climb I realise I haven’t started off conservatively and my legs have already started to burn. I definitely considered making my way down the mountain to Camps Bay and having a cup of coffee instead of carrying on. But out of pure stubbornness, I carried on. Up into the mist, rain and wind.
Once up at the top you could not see anything- just the path in front of you. I noticed two runners in front of me and decided I was going to stick with them so that I didn’t get lost up there. Trying to keep up with them, while putting on a raincoat, trying to have a snack and run at the same time, was probably the biggest challenge of the day. I had to pull out all of the downhill running skills that I didn’t have. But I was keeping up and that was all that mattered.
After a good 10km of thick mist, hard rain (apparently hail), some slippery downhills - where some skilled skiing moves came out - we landed up at Llandudno ravine. Full of mud and soaking wet it was a great relief to see Llandudno in the distance as we descended.
On to Constantia neck - this section I knew well - but always cursing the sneaky hills. Yes, just stairs. You always think that the contour path is flat until you are on it again. But it was beautiful all the way back to the finish line. I was just plodding along, eating my snacks and making friends with the other trail runners.
The last couple of kilometres were hard. Especially when you could see the finish line and hear the people finishing but the route took you straight past it for a 2km loop. And no, it was not a nice flat path. You had to head up another bunch of stairs, down to the road and back up the hill again to the path towards the finish line. Luckily, I met the best person at the end that carried me through. All laughs and smiles until the very end. Encouraging me to keep on running.
What a run! I still smile thinking about what a great time I had during this race. Such amazing people, a spectacular route and a great day out.
Honestly cannot wait for the next ultra-trail race!