Koppie X-ing Day 2
As we reluctantly wormed our way out of our cozy sleeping bags our muscles told us that we did 31 km of rugged Karoo landscape the previous day (see my previous post). Stretching was the order of the day. Here is one of the unsong heroes of the race, Julie Avenant, wisely preparing for day two. Julie's job was to ensure that all the backmarkers safely completed the race, not the nicest job but very important!
Other runners took a more sedentary approach...
Another two unsung heroes of the race were Naude Avenant...
And Chrisna Smith, who essentially ensured that all the needs of all the runners where met at all times. Thanks guys, you were amazing!
Day two had a fairly late start at 09h00, so that the runners could fully experience Visgat. There was therefore ample time to prepare and ensure that all my equipment, etc. was ready for the race. After the race briefing I was allowed to start, about 5 minutes before the rest of the runners.
After reaching a nice spot to capture the front runners, I leisurely took out my camera and prepared to take the shot. As Jacob and Fran came into view I pressed the shutter and discovered to my horror that I forgot my memory card in my laptop! Disaster! I had to sprint (sprint metaphorically speaking of course, at least in my heart I sprinted :-) back to the start to get my memory card. Luckily I could catch a lift with one of the backup vehicles. Unfortunately, I could only rejoin the race in the middle of the pack. So after lots of blood, sweat and tears I eventually caught up with the group challenging for second place, Robert Graham, John Stewart and of course my beautiful wife :-)
After that I was truly finished and therefore had to take the rest of the race significantly easier. At least I could relax and start to enjoy the scenery of day two. Starting at Visgat, the route in principle follows the buffalo river back to Murraysburg. However, as will be seen, there were a couple of twists and turns along the way.
I also had time to catch up with some of the runners. Karoo local Carin Leonard from Graaff-Reinet was like a fish in water :-)
She was closely followed by the KoppieX Peleton... Marike Naude, Erica and Faure Goedhals and Matilda Grobler.
The route soon entered a short section of tar road (oh the horror!), luckily it was really short and soon we were back on the trail where we belong :-)
Day two was full of surprises. While I initially thought that the route would be predominantly flat (with us following a river and all) there were actually a number of ups and downs as we cut across the twists and turns of the mighty Buffalo river.
Seeing this homestead with its lush immaculate garden in the middle of nowhere was certainly a surprise.
Along the route there were ample support for the tired runners!
And as always, beautiful vistas to enjoy.
According to Willem, a couple of years ago the river was actually flowing. However, the recent drought coupled with the large number of farm dams in its flow has reduced it to pools (like the one below).
Soon we were climbing again...
But fortunately there was light at the end of the hill in the form of the aid station :-) This time the aid station was approximately 17km into the race, leaving us with another 14km to go.
After the aid station, the disadvantage of our late start started kicking in. In contrast to the previous day's cloudy weather, day 2 was less kind to the runners and the late morning heat started to take its toll.
Gavin Sacks wasn't phased by the heat. With a number of long distance road races under his belt he took the conditions in his stride.
Day two was full of surprises, like this small stretch of Karoo forest...
And this beauty...
Seeing that this is an adventure, day two also had its share of obstacles to negotiate... If you thought the fence is a challenge, wait till you see the thorn bush that you have to avoid on the other side.
Fences also worked in our favor though, like keeping an overly friendly friend at an arm's length.
It was a long and winding road...
But eventually the the town of Murraysburg came into view...
Seeing the town, my spirits were lifted, surely it cannot be much longer anymore?
Well, it turns out it can.. maybe I should have listened to the race briefing.
Snel and Peet were on standby to guide us in the right direction.
And the orange flags showed the way to the Murraysburg sports fields.
Finally after more than 65km of arduous Karoo trail running, we made it!
Willem was met by his beautiful daughter at the finish...
And they could cross the finish line together :-)
With the effects of the flu a thing of the past Ayoub Banderker and Samad Razzak delivered a stronger performance on day 2.
Genis and Tanya Pieterse were next to finish...
Closely followed by Carien Hamman and Alex Maree.
And of course the race isn't over until the festivities start, or in this case, the "feeskomitee" arrives!
As the KoppieX is also a cultural experience the prize giving ceremony was a three course gourmet dinner, prepared by gourmet chef, Erika... Yum!
And to remind us that the KoppieX is a journey not an event, the finishing prize was a Karoo succelent in a KoppieX pot (much better than a silly medal).
Race winner Jacob ... received Nommerpas shoes to the value of R2500, a mohair blanket and socks, a LED Lenser, R1000 cash, R1000 Freedom of Movement voucher and a Absa gift bag... not too shabby for two days' work!
Female winner Fran Siebrits received the same prizes as Jacob, minus the Nommerpas shoes (which was an additional prize for the fastest time of the race. KoppieX are gender neutral with their prizes).
John Stewart and Rob Graham could not be separated for the second place and the result was therefore decided by a sudden death game of ching... with Rob's percentage play taking the honors. Rob received a pair of mohair socks, a buffelsfontein T-shirt, A LED lenser, R500 cash, a R500 Freedom of Movement voucher and a ABSA gift bag while John received Mohair socks, Buffelsfontein mug, a LED lenser, R250 cash and a R300 Freedom of Movement voucher... nice!
I was of course immensely proud of the second placed lady...
Marike Naude won a tight contest for the third female and with it R500 cash, R500 Freedom of Movement voucher, a LED Lenser, a Buffelsfontein T-Shirt and a pair of Mohair socks.
Willem had to draw on the services of the "feeskomitee" to adjudicate the best beard prize...
With Ayoub Banderker a worthy winner, and of course winning a selection of Buffelfontein Baardolies' finest!
Gavin Sacks walked away with a L'Avinir weekend as the best Koppie Crosser.
Robert Graham was awarded the most dirty KoppieX prize... I am not going to elaborate, what happens on KoppieX, stays on KoppieX ;-)
But the last laugh was left to Dianie Lamprecht and Helena Higgens, the "Feeskomitee" who really lightened up the race and was deserved winners of the John Stewart floating trophy for the "Spirit of the KoppieX"!
After the prize giving we had an opportunity to enjoy Erika's delicious three course meal. First up was oven roasted red pepper and tomato soup, yum!
Next, my personal favoriate... Boston Brew braised oxtail pie... loved it!
And to cap it off, a classic lemon tart served with homemade vanila pod ice cream... heavenly!
Which brings me to the end of our first Karoo running adventure. It was an absolutely amazing experience and one which I will never forget. Thanks Willem, Julie, Naude, Chrisna, Erika, Louw, Paul, etc. I will definitely not be able to name everyone involved in the race. All of you poured your heart and soul into this adventure. Until we meet again ;-)