Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Salomon Sky Run Story

The Lady Grey Country Club has two influxes of people during the year . One the Wartrail Multisporters in March and then the runners for Sky Run in November. We visit on both occasions but prefer the laid back and smaller filed of the Adventure Racing crowd in March.

Before we could even register we had to under a a quick medical check. Blood pressure,heart rate and wieght. Having spent the whole day in eating in the car and just arrived in to a hall full of people and the excitement of the race hardly made for great healthy results. In fact the fear of God was put in to Petrus with his blood pressure sky high ( by the time he reached Balloch the next day it was way down ).

As always a great pasta meal was provided and the race briefing revealed a huge part of the field were novices. (Adrian Saffy organiser and sweep was in for a long day). Our little group hit the sack and tried to sleep thrugh the noise of a local party and a new kid on the drag rtacing scene. 2:25 am came all to soon and the ritual forcing of a breakfast and some water began .

After a few words of wisdom and caution from the organiser,Adrian Saffy, the race was on. Unlike the casual jog of the Wartrail out of Lady Grey, the front Sky runners (racing snakes) took off like they were doing the 100m sprint!!!
After 40 min the headlights were already off and one knew at this stage it was going to be a hot day with the sweat dripping from ones body. After 1hr 40min myself (Garth), Lettuce, Jeff and Petrus had reached the Tower CP1. At this stage the field was staggered and groups already formed.
From the Tower, past CP2(Olympus) and on to CP3(Snowden) was all about getting into a steady rhythm and doing a little base work to open a gap and push.
With water been Scarce and a steady berg wind the natural river spring just after Snowden was a stop for all. Fuel up,and splash those faces before moving on again for the climb up to Avoca. All the way one needs to remember to turn those heads and take in those spectacular views we so often forget about when racing.
Once at Avoca (CP4) and a 5min stop to refuel again properly and appreciate the country side again we were off. Off to Skiddaw via the Dragons Back. By this stage the North wind was howling so crossing the Dragons Back was hair raising for some allowing us(Garth, Lettuce, Jeff and Petrus) to pass a large group taking a more conservative route and not going straight over the Dragons Back. (How could one not go over the Dragons Back. One of the main highlights of the race!!!).
Shortly after passing through Skiddaw(CP5) we lost Jeff to not feeling so well and decided to push on and wait at Balloch. All that was left before reaching Balloch was that horrid knee crunching, ankle twisting downhill that went on for ever before reaching the path in the valley below and meandering all the way in to the picturesque Ballock(CP6). Here we were met by our organised family and friends being our seconds.(What would we do without them) We were immediately given a kit check and herded in like cattle to the medics for a clearance to keep going. There after downing a red bull from the sponsors and plonking our backsides on chairs for a well deserved breather.

Lettuce was given strict instructions to drink rehydrate by the medics to carry on(He does sweat like a muel!!) and Jeff who came in 30min after us was failed and forced to rest until further inspections by the medics. After 8hrs sleep and 5 medical inspections, unfortunately Jeff was not permitted to carry on.


At about 4;50pm we decided it was time to get going as Balloch Wall ( a sheer 400m climb up and over a 3 meter wide saddle and down the other side) lay ahead of us and doing this section in the dark would not be pleasant. Balloch wall – Straight up and Straight down. Little off sides I thought, but a lot more humorous once down the otherside having passed a few competitors and a couple Emus ( yip thats what I said) From here on to Edgehill it was pretty straight forward following the gravel road.

From Edgehill to Bridal Way Path was where all the fun and games started again. Bridal Way Path was nothing compared to the approach to Bridal Way Path. This seemed to be forgotten about and I don’t know why. Good for us though because after grouping with a couple people at Edgehill, we seemed to make good work at dropping them on this climb. Then after coming out the top of the pass some bright spark said it was only 7km to the turn around. Not knowing this section of the route I soon realised that after 2hrs and not yet at the turn around the bright spark wasn’t to bright with there distances after all.

The Turn Around (CP8) was a life saver. We arrived at 00h00. Up until 23h00 there were berg winds blowing and heat was a issue. From 23h00 onwards the weather made a turn from Hot to Freezing. At the turn around the tea, coffee, rusks, sandwiches, soup, red bulls, blankets and willing people just wanting to help and make us comfortable was most welcomed. Leaving that warm loving environment was a tough one which had to be done quickly to avoid losing to much body heat and getting to comfy. At this point we seemed to bunny hop a few more contestants sleeping and recovering. The course had taken it’s toll on them.....!!

Here is what Sky Run novice Petrus Maree had to say about the last strech home" The night got freezing cold and when we reached the Turn at around 12 for a tea stop I had to put on all 4 layers and 2 buffs. Our pace from there was "hiking on steroids" and trying to keep the pace constant and focus on the GPS and path in front of you, ankles were fragile and I was tired. We could see Checkpoint 9 on top of the mountain, it was hard few km's to get there with lots of crazy climbing but that was the last checkpoint so I was super excited"

The final CP(Halstone) was the last climb of the day with shear 100m drop offs literally a meter from us. Climbing was one thing but descending it was another. We opted for the faster less safe shear downhill route. By this stage it was time to get this thing finished with as soon as possible.

Petrus again "The view of the Salomon blow up arch was PRICELESS! 25h19 mins I am stoked! Lettuce, Garth, Jeffrey, you guys rock, thanks for the experience and guiding, learning from the best! Will I do it again next year...hell yes!

We strolled into the finish just after 05h00 Sun morning to a surprising 18th, 19th and 20th .


What an event!! Well done Pennypinchers!!

Thanks Adrian and Mike of Pure Adventures,

Big thanks to Matty,Tammy,Lynne and David for seconding,

the Bloem 4x4 club for being up on the mountain for us

and Jeffery for driving us back...

1 comment: