Posted by Estie Van Heerden in News, Running, Trails on May 29, 2016
All pictures supplied by Sven Musica, Terra Motion.
As we ready ourselves for the newest Stage Race on the winter calendar, we took some time out from training (sure!) to catch up with Race organiser from My Road Less Travelled, Nina Alexis Furness Durieux and Mpumalanga Train Run Guru, Sven Musica, some questions regarding the upcoming race.
Some background on Sven:
Sven Musica is an avid Trail Runner and professional photographer. The combination of the these two talents are visible various portraits of our top trail runners in SA and these used for Buster Bunny Boven Race. He has single handedly raised the trail running society in Nelspruit, his home town, and groups all over Mpumalanga. Always keen for crazy challenge, high mountains and chasing a sunrise on foot.
How did you meet Nina?
I met nina through a mutual coach a while back. I also did one of her races and quickly discovered that this is no ordinary lady. Her pint size figure is actually very misleading. Beneath that tiny smile lies a lot of ideas to make even the strongest trail runner cry, softly!
When she first mentioned her idea to do a stage race in Waterval Boven, were you convinced that she could put this dream into reality?
Nina had very clear and certain ideas about this race. She’s determined and works extremely hard. I’m glad she took ownership from the start of the discussions. Its important that a race organiser’s signature and custom route planning are visible their races.
Both of us have been running alone for a long time. When you plan a route and do scouting, it means miles alone in nature and its hard work to determine what you can handle and what the average runner would be able to do. Mapping a route and putting a race of this size together involves hours of work, no sleep and little respect from the general weekend runner. Nina also tend to push the boundaries in her races. I was very sick with flu when we did the first recce of the proposed route I had in mind, I had to stop often. This forced me to take in all the beauty around us. After the first day we decided to change the route to ensure that the average runner would be able to be challenged, but still enjoy the run.
In Mpumalanga we try our best to get more people involved in Trail Running. We struggle to attract local runners and yet we live in the paradise of trail running of South Africa. A Stage race of this stature would attract more international runners and Gauteng. A race such at this would give our sport great exposure and boost tourism in these small towns where locals are in desperate need of employment. Nina have made it quite clear that she wanted to involve the local community during the weekend as marshals and crew. A few locals will also be sponsored to run the race. Once she wraps up Buster Bunny Boven, the locals can maintain these trails to then market them as new running and training venues to tourists. We need more races in Mpumalanga to grow the sport. Hopefully this will be the first of many.
Give us some insight on the area and on the route you guys had in mind.
On Day 1 after the start, you will immediately progress to the top of the escarpment – a steep kicker with rocks and boulders, some serious technical running. 800m ascent in first 7km! But you will be rewarded with a breathtaking sunrise and beautiful spots for selfies. You will have an opportunity to view waterfalls and do some insane escarpment running that you will not easily get to do in any other race. This route will offer some good single track and cattle paths, but no jeep track. So you would have to focus on your foot find and rhythm. For me as a photographer, there are too many spots to shoot to even mention. Just make sure your camera is charged and that you take time to appreciate your surroundings.
Day 2 will be a typical Mountain run. Just because the distance is shorter does not mean it will be easier. Nina felt that this route should carry her signature style trail run, so be prepared for low cut grass and exploring the high-veld vegetation. But this stage will also offer great slender ridge line running at high altitude. The views from the top would offer you a 360’degree panoramic over the valley. If you plan to train and run Skyrun, then this stage is the perfect training ground for gear, altitute and raw mountain trials. Again, make sure you stop to take in the beauty and more photo’s – you will be the envy of all your friends on social media.
Any secret tips for us in preparation of this race?
Its going to be full winter up on the mountains in a couple of weeks and it will be breezy. The wind can pick up on the ridges so make sure you have the right gear. Run with a proper wind shield. Also make sure you take enough nutrition. The wind might dry you out if you don’t drink enough water. Its very dry at the moment so don’t rely on natural water from the mountain streams. Also ensure you take everything on the compulsory kit list and take extra strapping in your emergency pack.
Some background on Nina:
This petite lady need no introduction. But what many people don’t know, is that besides organising successful events and trail runs, she’s a dedicated mother to lovely little girl, a wife, a ballerina and works full time. Her passion for running and the need for true raw trail running saw her host her first race in 2014. She has discovered amazing talent and helped numerous athletes from disadvantage communities to reach their goals. She is sensitive to the rhythm of nature and is always conscious of the impact a race will have on the environment we run in.
This will be the first stage you organize. Have you’ve ever one a trail run stage race yourself?
Yes I have, I did the WildTrail Namaqua Quest in 2015. I really battled due to lack of training and my nutrition wasn’t correct. I loved running in that area but really wished I had done more distance training. Running 2 days back to back also had it’s own challenges. Push too hard on the first and you end with no legs on the next.
That is the main reason our distances for Buster Bunny Boven will be shorter. I want to cater for all runners, even novices. We want families to come do a race and have a break away from city life. Our first day will be the easier of the two, so runners will have plenty of time to relax with their families afterwards and just soak up the vibe.
How did you find the location at Waterval Boven?
Protea Malaga approached MRLT to develop a race as part of their marketing strategy to invite more people to the area and develop trail running as an activity in the region. I went for a visit and the mountains & views where phenomenal. I immediately fell in love with the area and the people. Its a stellar location and so close to Gauteng. Within 3hours you can be in trail running heaven and come back to work on monday, recharged. Everyone in the area have been very supportive and the community are involved in the planning. It’s great to have a venue like Protea Malaga. Their team are super excited about this race! It will add a lot of value to the local communities of the area.
Give us your highlights on the two stages
The terrain will vary. Day 1 will be 90% single track and a big climb (*note the subtle sadistic nina grin!). It is on a well maintained path and the locals have worked hard with me to build and maintain these. Once you reach the escarpment you can relax and from there its easy running till the finish. We have a bit of gravel road to finish line – great spot to deliver a sprint finish. We will have 2 well stocked aid stations on this route. Great views guaranteed.
Once done you can relax and get a well deserved massage (pls remember to prebook). We will have live entertainment in the afternoon, Rubber Duck will be playing and we will also have food stalls available.
The typical ‘nina route’ will come on Day 2. Loads of Rock hopping, technical climbs (on all 4’s!), ridge running, running the spine of the mountain and technical steep decent. I really allowed myself to play with the planning of this route, was spoilt with choice and had cut out a lot of extra’s to keep the distance short. If it was up to me, we would be running for days on end! Good news is that there is some easy running towards the finish. Once done we will have lovely prize giving lunch which is included in your entry fee. This will give runners time to compare war stories and say goodbye before heading back to the city.
Some extra information that might help?
Registration would be at Protea Malaga from Friday afternoon. This will also become the race village for the weekend. Camping options are also available at Elangeni, literally walking distance from Protea Malaga. Every runner will be rewarded with a great long sleeve technical shirt and a finisher token to all.
The race will not self navigated, but we will load gps files and profiles onto the website soon. We will also have checkpoints on the route for all runners and as always, do live tracking of our podium athletes. We’ve confirmed Bennie Roux, Tabang Madiba, Carien Bezuidenhout, Nikki Booyens , with more elite’s signing up. We will also have a few talented local runners chasing for podium.
Entries close – 11/6/2016. Only Upgrades, downgrades and subs will be allowed at registration, but regret no refunds.
For each runner out there reading this and have not yet entered, you have little time left to join one of the most memorable trail runs of your life. Forget any run thats done on district road and jeep track. Those will not earn you the same respect Buster Bunny Boven Stage Race will bestow upon you. Come join Nina and her team for an unforgettable weekend of fresh mountain air and family vibes. And charge those GoPro’s, we can’t wait to see your images from this race!