Posted by Estie Van Heerden in Interviews on July 16, 2015
All images courtesy www.runtrail.co.za and Darren Smith
I first met Nina Alexis Furness Durieux (big name for such a small person) a couple of years ago competing in one of my first trail runs in Gauteng. It wasn’t a meeting, it was more a glimpse of a very tiny blond girl in her signature bright Vibram FiveFingers, tip-toeing her way across a technical single track. Since then we’ve ran many races together. She is possibly the kindest soul in trail running, always has a smile on her face and a minute to spare for fellow runners. She also became founding member of MyRoadLessTravelled, a sport events company, specialising in trail running events.
In 2014 fellow athletes and new trail buddies supported her inaugural race, Rock Rabbit Run. She proved her status as respectable race organiser with a brutal technical course no one has ever seen nor run, in the beautiful mountains of Broederstroom area. In 2015 she launched her first series of 4 trail runs in Gauteng, the Rabbit Trail Series. The Arnold Chatz Nogwaja, 1st in this series, was held at Ezemvelo Nature Reserve in Bronkhorstspruit in May. The second race, Captain Carrot, will take place this coming Sunday, 19 June 2015 at Ingwe Bush Camp.
I managed to bring this fast paced lady to a 5min halt to talk about her passions, lessons and her love for trail running.
Tell us more about the idea behind the Rabbit Trail Series and the clever name for Sunday’s race?
Ive always wanted to make this happen. Last year Rock Rabbit Run was a great test for us. A lot of lessons learned but the turnout and the feedback was overwhelmingly positive. I’ve always been inspired by nature and the ‘Rabbit’ theme encapsulate all the skills trail running require. Agility, speed, rock jumping ect. On the different routes in our series there is also a variety of rabbit species to be found like the Scrub Hare and Rock Rabbits. ‘Captain Carrot’ was inspired by the idea that you will receive superhero status as trail runner once you complete the tough course on sunday. And it adds a little bit of fun to the event!
You said you’ve learned a lot of lessons from your first event till now, tell us a bit more?
My biggest lesson: “Just because you are an experienced trail runner, doesn’t mean you can put the perfect route together.” Route marking is super important. As a runner I thought I knew how to mark a route clearly, but some athletes still got lost at Rock Rabbit Run. It’s all about the detail. You have to keep every type of runner in mind when you plan a route. From novice to experienced runners. We now also focus on a detailed and clear race briefing before the race start. A lot of athletes don’t listen to the announcer once they are in the starting shoot and this caused a lot of problems for athletes and for us. We now load a very detailed route plan to our website prior to the race and our routes are clearly marked every 50m. I have an amazing team whom I can rely on. Tranquil Gumbo has been my right hand man since we started. He is a very experienced runner and provide valuable insight when I plan, run and mark a route. We now also offer more variation in our routes. We have to cater for everyone and we want to reward athletes with good value for money.
How did the rest of the trail race organizers receive you when you announced you’ll be hosting your own Trail series?
The community of trail running in South Africa is very small and we all have the same goal in mind, to promote trail running as a sport. Emotions and ego’s aside. I’ve received so much advice and assistance from some of the top event organizers in the field and could not be more grateful. We try and make sure our event dates don’t clash and conflict with each other’s events. To put a race together is extremely hard work. Every little thing needs to be managed. But in the end its very rewarding and I get to do what I love as a career.
How did you get involved in trail running and how to you balance career, family and training?
At school I used to be a sprint athlete. I completed by first trail run in Pretoria nearly 7 years ago and remember Ryan Sandes was also running. I was inspired and got hooked after one event. I still compete in races and just completed the 15km Salomon Bastille Day Trail run even though I’m returning from injury. I have a 3 year old daughter who keeps me very busy and I get very creative in order to get my daily training done. My husband Nicus, supports me in my events with his background in environmental management. In our events we only use biodegradable materials that will not have a permanent impact or harm nature. My whole family is involved and assist me in maintaining balance whilst I run around and organise events.
Lastly, give us some inside info about the race on Sunday and what can we expect from Captain Carrot?
After route marking today, I’ve decided to change the start of the 20km to make it a little easier. You will still wind your way down towards the windmill and dam for an easy pace early in the race. But as we climb up towards the mountain it becomes very technical….2.5km straight climbing to be exact. But I love this mountain, its the highest point in Gauteng and the view is phenomenal. Enjoy the view and rest the legs if you need to. At the top of the mountain it leads to an open road where you can stretch your legs. There is a bit of veld running and a small section on tar road – brilliant for those who want speed. Then some forest sections and grassy fields before you finish. The 8km climbs halfway up the mountain, and then the route goes into sections of the camp where more game can be seen like eland and red hartebeest.
The two Aid Stations on the 20km and the one on the 8km, will be well stocked with water and the last one will have some light snacks. But we encourage all runners to carry enough water and nutrition with them. Every runner are required to carry a cellphone with our emergency number (number will be provided at race briefing).
The route will offer some points where you can easily spot other runners. This will add to a great atmosphere but we urge runners to stay on the course, maintain focus and keep your eyes on the route markings as you run.
At the finish you will be rewarded with a handmade Captain Carrot medal. Expected winning time should be in the region of 1h30 and average runners should come in just under 3hours.
Entries for Captain Carrot close tomorrow at noon. But good news is that entries for Race 3&4 will open up tomorrow as well. News is that this will become an annual series and I might even introduce one more race to the national calendar next year.
I look forward to a great race on sunday and hope a lot of you will join me, as I really don’t want to suffer alone on Nina’s adventurous 20km run up her beloved mountain!