Review of the Karkloof 50 Miler – 2020

The weekend of the 25th of September I drove about 500kms away from home to run the Karkloof 50 miler. Because of the Covid-19 pandemic all races from March 2020 were cancelled. This 50-mile Race was literally one of the first races that had the go ahead.

I ran this race last year and honestly, I went into a really dark place. Because of the heat last year my wheels fall off about 25km into the race. I sat on the side on the route and all I wanted to do was quit Thanks to the volunteers I kept going and finished.

This year because of a worldwide pandemic with restrictions such as curfew, social distancing, and no pacers or crews on the route it was a whole different ball game. The race directors seemed to have worked and bent over backwards to see how they could organise the race whilst respecting Covid-19 protocols. The organisers settled on an 8 loop with a central point at Karkloof Country Club as the hub of the whole race. The 8 loop was 25ish miles. Because of curfew, the race directors had to make it a sort of “multi-stage” event.

The Structure of the Race

I drove solo and had no crew, I suppose I could have dragged my teens but hey, sometimes I like doing things alone.

My first loop was phenomenal I’ll admit those views in Karkloof are to die for. 5kms in I had an emergency voice note to my coach, who had to talk me down from pushing too hard in the first loop, his words of advice “stick to your race strategy”. The second loop had these unexpected undulations which I assume would be a mountain bikers paradise, for me, when my quads were sore during the 4th loop, they were not so much “fun”.

The Scenic Views

There is something romantic about the rolling landscapes, Karkloof forests, cows all over the place, the isolation of it all from all human contact. (to which I am partial. This is partly the reason why I run Ultras.)

I did three loops on day one and did my last loop on Sunday. In retrospect, I do think I should have just pushed myself on Saturday. This was a once in a lifetime event with the loops – next year all the race should return to its usual format.

For my nutrition I used Race Food Fastbars (a bite every 15 minutes) and PVM a sip ever Kilometre. At the aid stations I mostly ate potatoes and bananas I stayed off any sweets until the last loop.

 I’m going to set an audacious goal and pronounce that next year I’ll be tackling the 100miler, I’ll admit my biggest motivator is that shiny buckle.

The Medal

In Conclusion

  • I would recommend this for one’s first Ultra, the course is runnable
  •  The race was well organised – keep in mind under strict COVID protocols
  • If you do run this race and you are a woman make sure to book your accommodation or settle for camping. The dorms aren’t a great option.
  • The swag is pretty amazing
  • The loop format was friendly for a self-supported runner

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