Forest Run review by Chris Wilcock

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Chris Wilcock has a smooth and easy-reading style and here he writes in an entertaining Q&A style about Forest Run. He mentions a number of things I noticed, but hadn’t fully absorbed; like the scents and sounds of the area. He also looks at critical elements like route markings, how tough is the run, the scenery and what makes Forest Run so special.

“Having previously written about the “old” Forest Run held at Lakenvlei, I had decided not to do a review of the 2016 edition. It is difficult to find something fresh to say about a run that has already been reviewed. However, having just done the “new” Forest Run held on 21 May 2016 in its new Venterskroon home, I realised that it is sufficiently different to justify another review. In addition, when doing my previous review in 2015, I had ignored the elephant in the room. Said elephant is now flapping its ears, waving its trunk around and demanding attention. More about the pesky pachyderm later…” read more

Chris Wilcock


Mponeng Primary Farm School

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For me, it is important that Forest Run has social and community involvement. As I’ve spent a decade involved with aspects of school sport – from rural development and social responsibility programmes to city school sport and coaching, I chose to connect Forest Run with Mponeng Primary Farm School. Read the rest of this entry »

Results from Forest Run 2016

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Results from Forest Run 2016 have been posted on the results page – results with splits are still to be added.

Well done to all the runners and congratulations to the course winners:

46km: (men) Mike Nash & Werner Bosman, 4h51 (tie) and (woman) Carine Gagiano, 5h34

30km: (man) Tom Hugo, 3h03 and (woman) Tumi Matlou, 3h16

16km: (man) CP Kriek, 1h50 and (woman) Susanne Viljoen, 2h03

Article: The Rock That Shocked

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Here’s an informative, pleasant and readable article “The Rock That Shocked” posted on the Country Life magazine website (6 April 2016) about the Vredefort Dome. They talk about the meteorite impact that created the Dome, gold mining and some of the history of the area. They also mention Venterskroon village, which is where we start and finish, and the farm Thabela Thabeng, which is where the 30km and 46km runners will pass through (Thabela Thabeng is WP5).


Interesting numbers (updated)

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As a follow-up to my first ‘Interesting Numbers’ post, here’s an update.

FR numbers 2May16

Shatter cones

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I spent a good part of today walking in the Forest Run area and was reminded about shatter cones – because I saw so many! These are really special rock structures that are found only at meteorite impact sites. Indeed, they are the fingerprint of a large-body impact and were the deciding factor in declaring the Vredefort Dome a World Heritage Site. When a comet or meteorite strikes, it releases an enormous amount of energy, which evaporates, melts and fractures the surrounding rocks. Shatter cones are formed by the shock waves that spread from the impact and can range in size from macroscopic to several meters. These images show pieces of shatter cone in quartzite (left) and arenite (right) rocks from the Vredefort Dome.

shatter cones

Interesting numbers

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Morning Forest Runners. With just less than two weeks to go until entries close (on Sat 7 May), I thought you’d be interested in some fun stats. Based on past experience, I took a guess about what distances you would enter. USUALLY the shorter distances attract the most runners. But not for the Forest Runners already entered! The average age for each distance is also very interesting… Fabulous! I’ll update again in a few days.

FR numbers 26April16

Altitude profiles are relative

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In drawing the altitude profiles for the Forest Run routes last night, I had to decide on the best way to present the route. What kind of elevation scale was I going to use?

The challenge is to indicate that there are climbs and descents – some of which are steep; but not horrendously so. Out here in the Vredefort Dome, there isn’t anything too nasty, other than the sting-in-the-tail descent near the end. No climb nor descent goes on and on; but they’re still there to test you. Read the rest of this entry »

You’re a name, not a number

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Online entry systems are really useful because they take care of admin behind the scenes. With a system like this, event organisers can just download a spreadsheet with names of entrants and that’s it done.

But, for me, there’s a problem with this…

If your entry has gone through an online system, I don’t feel like I know you. You’re a name on a list that I’ll probably download close to the event date.

I used an online system for my first two Forest Run events (I was using it for other events) and it works well. The system definitely takes a load off… but, I end up on race day not really knowing who has entered. I see the names on the list but I don’t SEE the names. Last year I really enjoyed interacting directly with runners.

Going into this Forest Run I decided from the outset to handle all entries manually again. Sure, there is more admin and emails and comms… but from these I get pleasure. In meeting you, the entrants – old and new. By the time you rock up at the race, I’ve spoken to you on email, I’ve looked through your entry forms. I know how old you are and where you’re from.

To me, you’re more than a name on a spreadsheet to which I assign a race number. You’re a Forest Runner.

Then, when I greet you at the finish line, I’m so totally proud of you. Because I’ve met you. Even if just through an email and your entry form.

Forest Run 46km thru run

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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. Read the rest of this entry »