Lesotho ultra 2018

Date Held: 24 November 2018

Distances: 38km / 50km

Terrain: Trail running

Venue: Maliba Lodge, Lesotho

Website: Lesotho Ultra

Photos by: Phonix Capture cc – Professional Photography and Videography

This race was a goal of mine since August 2017, then I found out I was pregnant. This instantly put a major hold on things, but I was still determined to keep running and stay fit throughout my pregnancy.

My son was born in March 2018 and very determined, I started running a week after his birth. It hurt to say the least. I could barely do 4km run/walk.

Never the less I persisted and got into contact with my coach again and vowed that my maternity leave would be spent getting myself running fit. There were allot of ups and downs as everyone who followed me along this journey would know. But then before I knew it, the day was here…

Lesotho ultra 2018, 38km Mountain challenge.

PRE RACE//

My Son, husband and I accompanied by a friend set off to the Maluti Mountains, car packed, Sleeping bags, food running shoes and diaper bag ready we were gonna go and see what this race was all about. We left nice and early as the day before the race was 23 November – Black Friday, and the border gets very busy when shoppers head back to Lesotho from their shopping trips.

We left at about 5:30 and arrived at about 12:50, It’s not such a long drive, but we had a baby with so we stopped and so on.

Registration was to start at 15:00 and we could only book in then as well, so we hung around the Maliba lodge, with the men drinking some Maluti Beers and water for me, Carrot purity for Paul.

At registration we got our room numbers and food vouchers depending on the options that you took. We stayed in the Parks dorm option with no food, this was the cheapest option, and I suggest if you don’t mind the camping vibe when cooking then this is a nice option, it isn’t 5 star of very fancy but its sufficient for what you need to be basic and comfortable.

We had a beautiful view of the mountains around us, and that made any accommodation worth it! Just note that I would suggest buying fire wood and ice in town before entering the park, as the park has limited necessities in their store. One awesome thing we did get in town was sim cards, super cheap and easy to come by at R2 a sim card and we each got R50 Data from Vodacom, which was 1gig of data available for a week! How cheap is that!?

On long runs and races my husband usually phones me to check in if I’m doing ok and I get to check with him if Paul is doing fine, so this made my race super nice that I was able to call them on the run like I would usually do in South-Africa.

At 19:00 we had a race briefing with Andrew Booth and the team, things were getting real and serious, we were informed about all the water pints and were introduced to the term ‘Stumbletude’ – Haha – it’s just a word describing what you might feel while you’re up in the mountains and you’re effected by the altitude.

Altitude was the one thing I was very nervous about. I previously heard that it can cause cramps, nausea and extreme fatigue – and the worst part is that you wouldn’t know how your body was going to react till you get there?! So it was a gamble…

We were briefed on the weather and how things could unexpectedly change and that’s why it is needed to have all the compulsory kit. This had me a little nervous – I do well in extreme heat, but extreme cold was another story…

RACE FOOD//

For my race I had a few items that I took with that I had previously tested on long runs

  • ½ woollies roast chicken cut up into small pieces
  • Turbovite blast sachets x 8
  • GU Energy gell sachets x2
  • Natures valley granola bar (emergency pick up treat)
  • Cadbury chocolate (emergency pick up treat)
  • 2L of water mixed with High 5
  • 250ml of Red bull mixed with water to make 500ml energy drink

COMPULSORY KIT//

  • Food/nutrition
  • 2L water
  • Waterproof/windproof jacket
  • Thermal top
  • gloves
  • Buff/hat
  • Basic first aid kit
  • Head lamp
  • Whistle
  • Space blanket

RACE DAY//

The race was to start at 5:30 Saturday morning. It was very over cast and misty, it looked like it was almost going to rain. We drove up to the camp site where they would take us up to the hotel with a shuttle, where the race would start. We all gathered around and took pictures at the start sign and did some last minute stretches and bathroom trips.

Then we all gathered around for the Lesotho national anthem. They counted us down and we started.

Off we went, 150 runners crossed the start line and set off on our 50km/38km journey through the Maluti Mountains in the beautiful Tsehlanyane National Park. The route would loop us down into the valley twice before leading us up the mountain, this part I enjoyed allot and did it nice and fast, the first few Kilometres I went flying – I decided to run where I could and walk where I couldn’t. I was aware of the intense climb that was awaiting me, and I knew that that was going to take up allot of my time in the race as my climbing is really not strong. So I Decided to run fast and enjoy the parts that I could before the suffering would start.

As we ascended up the mountain the views became absolutely breath taking, it was impossible to take a picture showing the beauty of the mountains. But below I have a few taken on the day by Phonix Capture cc – Professional Photography and Videography. I hope it gives you a small idea of what we were experiencing. As the climb became more and more intense we all started to move a little slower approaching Camp Davis. Here the altitude might have affected me slightly, but I couldn’t really tell if my breathing was impaired or if I was just really tired from climbing.

As you get to the top of the mountain you start to see Camp Davis and you’re greeted by very enthusiastic supporters at the water point, it makes you feel so happy and energised like you’ve concurred the mountain! Here I had some potatoes and some ice cold enraged. I filled my bladder with water. Then I started to push forward, here I could run again, and this was fun. My legs were tired from the climb and my back and hips were quite tight and hurting as I was pushing along.

Here the wind started to pick up and the temperature definitely dropped to about 8 degrees. At 23km I stopped, sat down and ate something, my back was hurting and needed a break. I put on my thermal and pushed forward, the thermal was definitely a must at that point, and I thought to myself that I should have put it on earlier!

Finally we reached the top of the mountain and started to run more comfortably again! Then I reached camp Jup-Jup (Not sure if my spelling is correct) I had 3 Jup-Jup sweets and was told that all I have left to do was a 7km sharp decent and then I would reach the 36km split, then I’m basically home!

Now I love downhill running, I love technical and I love doing it fast!! But as I started to descend down that Mountain it dawned on me that if I fall here, there is no ‘oopsie’, and no turning back…

As much as I wanted to go flying down I couldn’t, my feet kept slipping and every time I looked up into the horizon the views of the mountain and the high was so overwhelming, that I got dizzy… So I was forced to hike. I did run everywhere it was possible but after about 5/6km I was able to start running again, then guys, then it felt awesome!! I was able to go flying past everyone that passed me on the downhill! I had one last Turbovite Blast and took of my thermal as descending into the valley the heat started to pick up. Then I went flying, the last 4km I was going nice and fast – having so much fun – pushing really hard to come in before 8 hours. So eager to get back to the hotel I missed the turn and ended up running 2km more that I had to, I had to turn around and go back!

As I ran into the lodge deck area, I was so relieved! The whole way all I could think about was my Husband and My Baby, and seeing their faces! I was so happy to hear that I was 6th in the woman’s field for 38km Lesotho ultra! Very proud that I could finish something this tough.

I dedicated this run to my son,

“Don’t ever allow anyone to make you feel capable of anything less than greatness. As we stand in front of these majestic mountains I’m overwhelmed by their beauty and greatness. It not just a little mountain..  and neither will the challenges be that you will face in life, but if you let me , I’ll help you climb each one step by step!”

It really was an amazing race, and it really pushed me to my limits, I’m so happy to have seen the beautiful Lesotho and experience its majestic Mountains. Thank you ASICS for this amazing experience, without your help it would not have been possible!

I would definitely recommend this race to anyone, a must do and a bucket list race for sure!

Happy Running

Jani

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