When I go out scouting tracks and paths for routes, I cover a lot of ground. I check out this trail, that animal track to look for options and connections. Over the past three months, I’ve covered almost 200 kilometres of trails in the Vredefort Dome. My GPS tracks look like a spider web.
Not all of these tracks are useful. When I construct a route it has to have logical flow, the direction must be pleasing (scenery) and the intensity of the trails must vary.
After each scouting outing I colour-coded my tracks with green being easy-running sections, yellow for runnable sections that require concentration, orange for sections that are technical and slow runnable (I may or may not run them) and red for those sections that are not runnable (for me).
Only then did I looked at connecting these tracks to make exciting routes with good doses of green, yellow and orange plus aiming to limit the amount of red – of which there is much available.
On computer, I end up with routes. I’ve covered the ground in sections and not in a continuous flow. I also may have originally covered the track in the opposite direction to the planned route.
Yesterday I headed out to run the thru-route of the 46km, which includes the 16km (minus a short section that I have done in the past – in the right direction) and the 30km routes.
I only set off at around 08h30 and took it nice and easy, knowing that I had a full day ahead. My running training this summer has been the worst of my life, so with limited kilometres in my legs, I didn’t want to push it too hard, too early.
Conditions were perfect as it was cool, overcast and later in the afternoon there was light drizzle.
Even so, I had to be very conservative with my water as there is nowhere to fill up until the furtherest end of the route. Being low on water for a long time was challenging, even though conditions were mostly cool. I was very relieved to get to a cattle trough.
There has been a lot of growth in vegetation over the past few weeks. We did get some rain in March and the plants responded.
|Same area, almost exactly two months apart. This is a section with an old unused trail so it was difficult to follow in Feb. Near impossible now.|
I’ll be out there in the weeks before Forest Run to trim the route. This will mean weed eating sections like this so that you can actually see where you’re running and what you’re putting your feet on. For me it is a way to ‘mark’ the route – a clear track is the only option for you to take.
|Warrin’s horses on top of a ridge.|
I lost a good deal of time in ‘stopped time’, which was consumed when I stopped at a number of places to send text message back to my safety followers. Stopping means backpack off, open it up, dig out zip-locked phone, check for signal, send messages, wait for send, pack everything back, get going again. Stopping to fill up at the trough took a while and another big fill an hour later. And then a later chatting stop near the end. Total stopped time was 1h30.
I also messed up two sections of the route (I was trying to do it all from memory) and lost probably an hour with these. These messes alter my distance log. I logged a total of 48.5km. For the actual route, this would be no more than 47km.
My moving time was 8h23 so I think it fair to adjust moving time to 7h20 or so. I took it way chilled and walked all the ups. I ran (very chilled and easy pace) the runnable flats and downs. With playing with my map and GPS, I’d say that I was probably moving just a bit quicker (I know the terrain) than a back-of-the-pack runner.
The open 4×4 track sections are divine to run. I definitely reeled in the time here. There are a few sections of really technical rocky terrain, like the sting-in-the-tail descent near the end. These are, for me, slow going because I’m really cautious on stuff like this. And I definitely lost time with all my walking and messing around.
I’m very happy with the route. It has a good balance. The nature of the area means that it is not easy out there. 46km is a decent distance – off-road – any way you look at it. Accumulated elevation is a bit over 1420m.
I made it through to the end just before dark. A very good day.
|Pretty sunset colours bouncing off clouds on the opposite side.|