There’s nothing better than surrounding yourself with mountains – absolute wilderness, isolation, and the beauty of nature as far as the eye can see. Recently, I had a fantastic trip to Maluti in Lesotho. It is truly remote there, even getting there with the normal road was a mission – using anything less than a 4×4 and you would risk getting stuck.
Club Maluti is nestled in between mountains, set next to a river in a valley. The range goes on for as far as the eye can see, with water literally flowing out of the mountains everywhere you turn. Looking around, I started to plan the routes I was going to take for the two days I would be spending here. One run would be 25km, the other 18km. I’ve never run at 3000m+ elevation, so was ready for a challenge.
On Saturday morning, rising at 5:30 was tough. Even in late March, the cold is pretty intense before sunrise. I pushed down some Futurelife, dressed warmly and started doing dynamic stretching. After doing a few hour-plus runs, I have come to realise the importance of fuelling before and during the run. Fuel and hydration can not be understated. I’ve made a point of carrying 2l of water as a minimum, aiming to sip every 20 minutes or so. As far as fuel goes, I’ve found Gu to be amazing. Easily digestible, great energy and definitely aid in recovery. Dried fruit and nuts are part of the fuel carry, and I aim to fuel at least every hour. After letting Dino know where I was headed generally, I set off.
I decided to head straight for the closest peak, the prominance being around 450m. The first section was runnable, although pretty tough. Soon the incline steepened and some power hiking was necessary. These initial inclines are always pretty tiring, one of the benefits is that it gets you to train harder. After 2.5km I reached the peak, already a bit worn down and ready for the flat.
From here on out the run was easy. Mountains as far as the eye could see – in every direction – certainly helped take the mind of any tiredness that cropped up. It is so incredibly beautiful – words could never adequately describe the scenery. I was now running on top of the mountain following no trail at all – complete freedom. The undulating terrain made for a very easy run, I was able to keep a really decent pace with minimal effort. This let me really enjoy everything that was going on around me.
I came across some wild horses, the sun streaming through the clouds, in one of the most spectacular scenes I’ve experienced. The blissful nothingness continued for a while until I hit the Afriski lift. I pushed past for a short while and then took the loop around through the quarry at the highest point – 3222m. I head back towards the cabin along the opposite side of the valley to close off the run.
This side of the range was way tougher to run on. There were grass knobs of varying sizes, causing me to have to lift an extra 30cm or so each step. This adds up and definitely breaks the flow, the trail beckons to be run but then gets in your way the very next step. As runners, we persist and enjoy all the different aspects the trails have to offer. Soon enough, the landscape opened up I found myself running along a waterfall. In the Lesotho mountains puddles, wetlands and waterfalls are the order of the day.
Another trail path appeared before me and I followed it towards the cabin and river. There were some great descents, which eventually lead me back down to the road. I did a quick 3km on the gravel road to finish up the 25km run, arriving back at the cabin tired but happy. With the fresh mountain air, breathaking scenery, and absolute freedom I was completely content.