Reviews 2013

Forest Run 2013: Saturday 9 March 2013

A review from Madelein Barnard (32km course) (posted on the Runner’s Talk forum)

We thought we were lazy in only going for the first lap here, but Chee was so lazy he didn’t pitch at all! On the other side of the equation we ran into Maurits at registration, yes the same Maurits that was the first 50+ home at the Addo 73km trail race last weekend, and no he wasn’t planning to do only the first half.

With trail running you have to hope that the race organisor has the same ideas as you when it comes to terrain, markings etc, and I have to say nobody can say that Lisa misrepresented her race in any way. She said the terrain would be friendly and the route almost hiill free and that was exactly what you got. This is probably the least technical of all trail runs we’ve done, the hardest terrain to navigate is arguably the life force sucking grassy bits, but unlike at 3 Cranes the paths under the grass didn’t have deep ruts and you could trust your footing. She also made sure that the grassy sections weren’t too long at a time so the moment the sense of humour left you, you were back onto dirt road. Although I think the poor okes going the full 62km might have had less sense of humour later on.

It was getting really hot by the time we finished and that combined with the altitude might have probably made for a much harder run than would normally be expected. In chatting afterwards Lisa also said that yes there are no bad hills, but it is the kind of route that make you work for every km, she said the second part of the race was a bit easier on the runner.

Lisa also bills this as “the friendly forest run” and once again she is true to her word from promising to upload the times of those of us not prepared to go the full distance to offering us the shower in her chalet as we were driving back after the event.

The water points were a sight to behold with colourful decorations and friendly helpers. There were no medals or prizes, but each runner received a plant and a hand made “forest” cloth drawstring bag which I found quite touching and oh so practical for the travelling runner.

This would make the ideal run for those roadies who don’t like technical trail but who would like a change of scenery. The venue is really pretty and just more than two hours away from Jozie (Lakenvlei); it would make the ideal active family get away. The chalet we saw when we showered was beautifully appointed.

We really think Lisa gets ten out of ten for her race – one more positive, the race briefing started on the minute advertised, she then gave 5 minutes extra as the venue was tardy in unlocking the toilets, but she set us off at exactly 7:05. A great surprise as we’ve been to trail races where they seem to think one has to wait for latecomers just because the race is small. In fact we liked this run so much we even ignored one of her markings to add another 1.5km to our run.


From Michelle Davis. Michelle and her husband Jack ran the long route.

What an AMAZING Forest Run last weekend! Wow wow wow! Myself and my husband are still on SUCH a high after such an exquisite adventure! A very big thank you and congratulations to you and your team for hosting such a well organised, slick and professional event! The communication updates and information pre-race were really comprehensive, the registration superbly efficient, race briefing excellent, the route markings clear and the refreshment stations out of this world! (That brown bread egg roll I had was SERIOUSLY the most delicious sarmie EVER!)

There is so much planning and logistics that goes into an event such as yours and everything was phenomenally executed! The premise of the event to enjoy running in the beauty of forests, was also really special! We cannot wait for next year’s race! Congratulations to you and please pass on our grateful thanks to your whole team for their fantastic hosting of all of us runners! The water stations were so beautifully decorated (and were such a welcome sight in the heat!) All of the small touches of the ‘wind wheels’ and umbrella decorations just brought smiles to our dials!

Again a big thank you and huge congrats on a great inaugural Forest Run. See you next year!


From Patrick Cruywagen. Written for Runner’s World website.

I recently moved to Belfast in the UK so when a work trip came up to my beloved South Africa the first thing I did was to look for running races in the areas I would be travelling through. This is when I stumbled upon Lisa’s Forest Run. I have known Lisa de Speville for some time, she has raced in every corner of the planet earth and this was to be the first trail run she was organising. It had to be good and I am happy to report that I was not disappointed.

I love innocent non mainstream races, the kind with no more than 100 runners. They are like the Cheers Bar, where everyone knows your name. You are not just a number lost in a sea of runners like at the Two Oceans Half Marathon. I discovered to my great pleasure that this is what the inaugural Forest Run is all about. Most runners stayed at the Lakenvlei Resort or nearby accommodation so it was not far to travel to the 06h40 race briefing.

The route took runners along the many forest trails of the resort and as I soon discovered no one forest trail is the same. The Forest Run is not a toughie; I would recommend it to people who want to graduate from the half-marathon distance to something longer. The reason I say this is that the Forest Run is not a technical trail run at all plus the climbs are of a gentle nature, not like the up and downs you might encounter at something like the Otter Trail. You are constantly running on a bed of pine needles or grass which offers your joints a little extra support. There are a couple of sections along gravel roads and a very short section that is paved but nothing that will break your ankles or cause you to fall.

For the most part though you are in a forest. It did not take the Mpumalanga sun long to start attacking my Irish weather accustomed skin but lucky for me they had extra sun block at each of the water tables, which for the first 30km were located every 10kms. When I ran in the sunny bits I found myself increasing my pace just to get to the shaded bits. So my race was a little like a fartlek.

The course was pretty well marked though as a roadie I twice took a wrong turn as I was too busy looking down. He first time I did this I just carried on as that stupid part of my brain was telling me that there was no way I could have gone wrong. The first rule when you suspect you might have taken a wrong turn is backtrack till you find the markings again. I definitely learnt a lesson there.

The Forest Run took place at the back end of the rainy season so much of our running was done through some pretty well grassed tracks. At times it was thick and it seemed to tug at your ankles but for the most part it was easily negotiable. Fortunately I was nowhere near the front so often I would just look for the bits of flattened grass and follow them. The fact that we had water points every 10km and I was running at roughly 6min/km meant that after every hour or so I had access to some drinks and a friendly face.

After about three hours of running things started to heat up rather substantially and the 3rd and final water point for me was taking its time to appear. Luckily there was a water crossing with about 3 km or so to go and so I stopped to cool myself down there. I had opened up a small gap over my brother-in-law Kevin and so I waited for him and we did the last few kms together. What an awesome run it had been! The 3rd water point looked like an elaborate buffet with food and sweets of every description. Even though this was the end of our run I did help myself to some. The poor 60 km runners had to go on from here for the 2nd half of the race. I would later hear that the grass was at its thickest during the final quarter of the 60 km race but by then I was relaxing on the deck of the lodge. Each finisher was given an indigenous tree instead of a medal which to me is more practical. I just hope that the airport scanners don’t pick it up when I go back to the UK.

The 60 km race was emphatically won by Kirsten Leemans with Adrian Lazar coming in second. Kirsten’s winning time was 5:08 while Adrian clocked in at 5:27. This was the first of three back to back ultras that these two fit lads without social lives would be doing. “Today was just a training run; next week I do Om die Dam followed by another ultra the week after. This though was a great run, such a stunning place to run,” quipped Kirsten as he took delivery of his winning tree.

For me it was just great to swap Belfast UK for Belfast SA and run hassle free in such a stunning part of such a beautiful country. Already Lisa has plans to introduce a 10km option for the 2014 event. Fingers crossed that I will be on assignment in SA this time next year so that I can do Lisa’s Forest Run again.

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