On the 21st of June, the longest day of the year, 5 continental teams will take on nature in an attempt to outrun the sun. 148 Kilometres, 8350m, 15 hours and 41 minutes between sunrise and sunset. Two trail runners from South Africa, Leilani Scheffer and team mate Johnny Young, were invited to form part of this year’s Team Africa. Asics pro athletes combined with amateur athletes from Northern Europe, Southern Europe, Americas, Asia Pacific will attempt to complete this 13 stage relay race before sunset. This gruelling route runs from Chamonix through the mountain terrain of Mont Blanc, through Italy and some of the most scenic trails any athlete could wish to run. Everything about this race is dependant on the weather and the sun. The best information about the route and live feed from athlete’s via their online tracking system on their are available on the official website.
In the past week I was in conversation Leilani about the build up and preparation for tomorrow’s race. It has been a busy week with so much to absorb but she managed to keep a short diary for us!
Day 1- Tuesday: Arrived in Chamonix. Attended course and documentary briefing, lunch and ‘little’ 5km warm up run up a mountain…took 58min! Reality check for most of us running at such altitude for the first time.
Day 2 – Wednesday: Early morning breakfast and meeting with Laurent Ardito, the master mind behind this project. Quick 8km jog next to a river with Andy Neo from Singapore and Johnny, my team mate. Highlight of the day was our cable car trip up to the summit of Mont Blanc. Spectacular! Got to walk on ice in a Glacier and behave like children, throwing snow. A day to remember.
Day 3 – Thursday: Official meeting for all athletes. Asics sunglasses as first gift… Introduction to management and media as well as team captains. Asics kit/goody bags handed out. Africa get to wear green for Sunday. Route presentation done so teams can edit stage allocation. My stage got swopped with the amateur from Namibia, so I will be running the final stage from Le Tour down towards the finish line in Chamonix!
Day 4 – Friday: official team photo shoot in the forest. Running in continental teams as well as individually. UK media conducted interviews with athletes for their race documentary. Official opening with Media and press teams from Europe and each of the participating 17 countries at the golf club house. Asics branded Paraglider’s landed in front of us and delivered a goat-bell to the team captains. Busy day and a great atmosphere among the athletes.
We should get further updates from Leilani and the South African support team later today and throughout the race tomorrow. All athlete’s carry GPS tracking units and you can follow this nail-biting race online neXXtep Sport.
We wish Leilani, Johnny and all the other athletes, a safe and memorable race tomorrow.