Friday, August 19, 2016

Windhoek Light Wild Trail 2016 race report: That time I had to take a nap in a grocery store parking lot.

After running the amazingly fun Avis Xtrail (link) in Windhoek a couple of weeks ago, I decided to enter the Windhoek Light Wild Trail scheduled for Sunday 7 August. My dearest, generous Hubs suggested I take some solo girl time for this trip, while he stayed home with the boys. They are tough like that! (and me a little less so...)

So off I went on my grand mom-venture, sent off by the boys with a flask of tea and a few options of running attire to cater for warm or cold weather. The road to Midgard leads from Uis to Omaruru on about 110 km of very bad gravel road, then on tar to Okahandja, and then another bad gravel section of 60 km up to Midgard. 

Now, I probably didn't think this mom-venture through all the way, but bravery (and denial) prevailed. I almost made it to Omaruru, when calamity struck the first time. 

With Omaruru visible in the distance, I stopped for a bathroom break (so as to avoid the much dreaded public toilet scenario), and with the car running, music playing, I managed to lock myself out of the car. Yes. Right there next to the road. I thought I had unlocked the doors, but in fact I pressed the button that locked the entire car just before slamming the driver's door shut. Awesome, nana-mama!

The door didn't close all the way, so first I tried to pry it open with my bare hands (panic!). I found a toolbox in the back of the car (clever Hubs) so then I tried to pry open the back canopy window that opens into the cab with a screw driver (please don't judge). Didn't work (thankfully!) Only then, as a last resort, after about 10 minutes (yes I pee'ed - it helped to calm down and focus!), I opted to push the driver's door completely shut to see if it happened to unlock itself like that before I smashed a window with a rock... Turns out it worked! Success! 
Side note: Always take the car keys along for a veld pee. Lesson learnt.

The drive from there on was pretty uneventful for the most of it, until I turned on to the gravel at Okahandja. What an incredibly scenic route it is, but over the most brutal humps and bumps and corrugations. Oi! The going was slow and the sun was getting low. Not 20 km in a driver flashed his lights at me in passing. First I thought he warned me of a traffic cop ahead, and then I realised that speeding on that road would be suicide. No cops needed, so it must be a flat tyre. Which, sadly, it was.

Changing a flat tyre on a gravel isn't all that difficult as it is really, really uncomfortable, and this time proved to push for first place in the uncomfortable department. Getting the jack level took me the longest time, and then only to forget the chocks behind the wheels and to see the car roll of my precious, hard-earned, jacked-up jack. Luckily then a kind stranger-family stopped and lent me a hand, so we got the job done a little quicker. Living in beautiful, peaceful (and really remote) Namibia  I never expect anything less than having plenty kind strangers offering to help, which is one of the top things I love about this country. 


 So finally, after about 6 hours of travelling and way after dark I arrived at Midgard. I had a hot shower and some nice dinner. I had to smile, reflecting on my previous visit to Midgard and specifically the dinning room. It was around 20 years ago when a certain cousin of mine joined our family in attending another cousin's wedding. That gorgeous dessert table is still etched in my memory, and Cousin and I probably made three or four trips for more helpings of cake/pastries/sweets. I don't think my metabolism or palate would endure such a spree again, but boy, was it fun!

The race started at 8:30 am, so athletes were able to enjoy an unhurried buffet breakfast and register afterwards as the start/finish was on the lawn outside the dining room. What set out as a freezing cold early morn turned out to be quite toasty by the time we lined up at the start, and I was glad I opted for short pants and shirt sleeves. 



The first section was relatively flat and on sandy jeep track for about 5k’s, after which one mother-of-a-climb started (and seemed to end just before the last 500m to the finish!). Not really. But it sure as hell felt that way! In analysis afterward I found that the Midgard trail was about 350 m altitude gain and 350 m loss, where Avis was 500 m gain and the same amount of loss, but it didn’t feel that way on the course. And it was not only I that suffered – I met up with other runners I ran the Avis with and they felt similarly. On the Midgard there were a lot of really off-road-no-trail sections of loose rocks and gravel, where we really had to watch our step, every single step, where Avis’s single tracks were firmer and mostly cattle paths. But hey, not that we are complaining, trails are all about getting off the beaten path and pushing the limits, chasing after adventure and not a PRs, so Midgard surely fit the bill quite well. The climbs on Midgard may not have been so relentless as they were steep, technical, and FREQUENT. I was also not feeling a 100% as I was fighting a sinus infection that blessed me with a headache lasting for more than two weeks. Thankfully running seemed to relieve the pain (and walk-breaks less so)... so run I did.



Halfway was marked by a well-stocked water (and BEER!) table with the most stunning view on the route, aptly named God’s window. Views like these make all the climbs worth the while, and I soaked it in for a while.



I finished the distance in a slightly better time than the Avis trail (which was 1 km shorter than Midgard), in 2h11. But not before a dramatic sprint to the finish to beat (by 1s) the lady that kept pushing and passing me throughout the second half of the course (I considered dipping over the finish line like my friend Danie... maybe I did!). Only to find out the next day that my competitor was in a different age category than me... not a Veteran, but a MASTER! She sprinted like a champ, and had me digging real deep to push for the win, while she is at least in her 50’s! What an inspiration of a sports lady.

I have to commend OTB once again for really going the distance to present us with a fairly technical, diverse and very well-marked route. It should be a challenge; otherwise, what is the point?! I really enjoyed this race and will recommend it to fellow trail lovers.

After the race I had an awesome hot shower and started my long journey home. Never having an appetite after a race, I didn’t eat anything but felt my sinus headache return in full force so I took two pain tablets on an empty, exhausted stomach. Oi, mistake of the year! By the time I reached half-way I was so nauseous, exhausted and still sporting a mother-headache that I was about to check myself into a roadside lodge. Any place with a bed – I was done!, but really eager to get home to my family too. 

With a lot of grace and slow going I reached Omaruru, with two hours of gravel-from-hell laying between me and my home in Uis. After I filled the car I parked at the local Spar shopping complex, right in front of the entrance, and decided to just lay my head down for a sec to rest. The front seat proved to be less than comfortable so I checked myself in on the back-seat-suite of Casa-Isuzu and promptly fell asleep, napping easily for 15 min with my feet sticking out the open car backdoor. 



When I woke up I felt a hundred times better, and with somewhat of an appetite I managed to eat something and take some proper meds. When I entered the store I saw the Spar manager still VERY nervously fixated on his security cameras monitor, by which he probably kept an eye on the crazy sleeping woman in the parking lot – hey, is there a safer place to nap for an overly-tired lady in a rural town? I think not!

I made it home safely just as the sun was about to set, sooo thankful to be safe and very happy to be with my three guys again. I think I will be taking them along on the next few adventures... some things are just so much better shared!



2 comments:

  1. Ai, voel jammer vir jou oor die uitsluit en die pap wiel, Saartjie - ken daai gevoel so goed. En Midgard... Heheeeee! Onthou daai buffet soos gister... ;) xxxx

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  2. Hehehe, ons het lekker gekuier op Midgard, ja! Dankie vir die saammaak Serie! Ek kan nie wag om van julle nuwe avonture te beginne lees nie! xxx

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