Posted by Kyle Redelinghuys in Running, Trails on July 13, 2015
Johardt Van Heerden, the powerhouse that won the South African Trail Championships earlier this year, just finished competing in the Trail Running World Championships. Johardt was kind enough to give us a run down of the race. He ended up placing an incredible 23rd (!), with fellow teammates Lucky Miya and Thabang Madiba coming in at 46th and 75th respectably. Congrats to Team South Africa, you really did us immensely proud!
All images courtesy Brett Nattrass
My World Champs Experience
On the 4 th of July 2015 a team of 5 had the honour to represent South Africa at the World Mountain Running Long Course Championship. The team had a lovely plate of pasta on Friday night and we went to bed nervous but excited about the epic journey ahead. We woke up early on Saturday morning to catch a train from Zermatt to St Nicklaus where the race starts. The whole vibe was just incredible and there was a buzz at the start line in St Nicklaus. The first half of the race (21km) was a mixture of tar sections as well as smooth single track. Keep in mind that this easier section also consistet of 500m of climbing. The pace was fast from the start and I settled in the chasing pack. The miles went by quickly as we were running fast but still within ourselves. It was really tough to keep the same pace on the uphills as the Europeans don’t slow on the ups. It was a late start at 8:30 am and the heat was already taking its toll. I had to make sure to keep hydrated and drink a lot.
We got to Zermatt in 1h19min which is also the halfway point of the race. The crowd support in Zermatt was something I had never experienced before. Thousands of people stand and supporting us on the road. Although we were running hard, I had goosebumps all over my body. Just after Zermatt we did hit a massive uphill of around 6 km. This hill was just incredibly tough after 25 km of hard running. It was just winding up the mountain, but really spectacular and I felt so blessed to be doing what I love in one of the most beautiful places in the world. My stomach begun to gave me problems at the top of this hill and the fatigue stepped in so suddenly.
To be honest I don’t remember a lot of the next section after the hill as I was really tired and struggled to keep focus. The section was on technical singletrack with the majestic Matterhorn to keep your spirits up. The local support on this section also helped me a lot. The last 3 km is continues uphill to Riffelberg at 2500m altitude. This section of the course is incredibly steep and I had to dig very deep to get to the finish line. The race itself had the most spectacular views I had ever seen and I would recommend the Zermatt marathon to anyone.
It was such an honour to represent my country and I left everything out on the course. I made a few tactical mistakes but am still satisfied with my performance. The Europeans are super strong on the uphills but with a few small changes in training, I do think it is possible to compete with them. Thank you for everyone’s support back in South Africa and we really did our best.
1. Tommaso Vaccina, 3:01.51
2. Andy Wacker, 3:03.51
3. Puppi Francesco 3:04.14
23. Johardt van Heerden, 3:24.52 (ZA)
46. Lucky Miya, 3:38.43,1 (ZA)
75. Thabang Madiba, 4:05.24 (ZA)