Pictures courtesy of Em Gatland
The heading should actually read, “Post race depression” after completing a weekend long trail adventure in the Spioenkop mountains. Athletes who completed this race can be easily spotted this week, walking with a bit of difficulty, smiling from ear-to-ear and drinking their morning coffee from a branded ‘Oxpecker’ tin cup. All because they attended one of the best organised Trail events this sport has seen in years. The routes where tough but not impossible, the views were breathtaking and the hospitality worth more than our entry fee would ever cover. Throw in a decent race garment (one you actually want to wear in public), Sherry served by the cup, bon fires, tasty meals and you have a ingenius recipe that would work for many years to come.
But between all this ‘gees’, a serious race was run by some of our top SA Trail athletes. Quitin Honey literally flew up Spioenkop, and smashed the race organisers expected winning time by nearly 10min. He won Day 1, 21km, in 1:22:48. Day 2 he won in 56:23 and claimed the overall victory. He now also hold the race course records for this inaugural event. Megan Mckenzie was in her element. Smiling and bouncing down Spioenkop like it was an ant hill. She was the fastest lady home on Day 1 10min behind Quitin, with a 1:35:39, sprinted to another victory on Day 2 with 1:06:50 and also claimed overall ladies winner for The Oxpecker Trail Run 2015.
The field offered some strong contenders for these two athletes, and the top 50 delivered racing fast times and over 10 ladies. The field also surprised the demographic expectations. 418 athletes entered for Day 1 and all athletes finished the race. A total of 382 athletes finished the weekend stage race. Over 50% of the field were female athletes, which is a huge achievement for trail running as a sport. 45% of athletes from Gauteng joined local KZN runners along with some international visitors for the race.
The Oxpecker Trail Run delivered on their promise of a relaxed weekend running in the country. Athletes were not bombarded by a blaring race MC at the finishing area, instead everyone soaked up the sun, listened to great music, ate lunch and enjoyed an ice cold beer. This had more of a ‘picnic in the country’ feel than the fast pace events we are used to in the city. Race briefing in the evenings was supervised by MC Lee, who should really consider a career in standup comedy. He introduced elimination games for the prizes and lucky draws, which had us all crawling with laughter and should become tradition at this event.
Race organizer, Spoen Green, was very proud of the inaugural event: “This is how we do everything in our area. We have done a few local races, but this is my first big event and it was great to have everyone come and visit us. My family was involved in all aspects of this race and the whole community was involved in making this a success.” And I could not state it any better, it was a ‘visit’ at the Green Family’s farm, and we will be back in 2016 for another one.