RCS Sox 2018 day 3: The Garden of Eden
The final day of the Southern Cross trail run was a fitting conclusion to a three day celebration of the beauty of the garden route. The organisers claim that this is the most diverse three day stage race in South Africa. Do they have a point? Well, read this blog post and my posts on Day 1 and Day 2 and decide for yourself ;-)
Day 3 started at Kleinkrantz, the most eastern Wilderness beach. As I started a bit before the rest of the runners I had the beach entirely to myself for a few precious minutes.
Soon the rest of the runners were making their way across the Wilderness beach. On the final day all the runners started at Kleinkrantz. The Full and Sport field followed the same route while the Lite had a slightly shorter route.
Leading the pack was guest runner Christiaan Greyling (He and wife Landi presented a free trail running workshop after day 2 at the race village) and Sox Sport winner Chris Strydom.
Chris smashed the Sport field, winning by 1 hour and 40 minutes over the course of the three days.
Next was Melikhaya Misizi who came second overall in the Full Solo race...
He was closely followed by Full Solo Winner, Bernard Rukadza. Bernard won the first two stages but he and Melikhaya were pipped by Chris on the final day (Christaan's time did not count).
The two RCS Gugs runners, Peter Tsawayo and Imran Paya, running in their trademark orange vests won the team category.
The female race was won by Margitta Wright. She also came 6th in the overall standings.
The beach section had some frantic scrambling over rocks...
But eventually we reached the Wilderness main beach...
And ran around the Touwsriver mouth...
Where the first waterpoint awaited us.
After a short stretch on the road, we soon turned onto the beautiful Wilderness Boardwalks.
After the boardwalks we stepped onto the remnants of the famous Outeniqua Choo Tjoo train railway tracks. The rail service was stopped in 2006 after damage due to heavy flooding. Plans are afoot to resume operations.
The following quote from an article originally published in the S.A. Railways & Harbours Magazine in November 1928 explains why this railway line is being revived, "Travelling from George to Knysna is like being present at an animated art exhibition, each mile presenting a new canvas that calls forth exclamations of pleasure. One loses, to a certain degree, the sense of time, thanks to a profusion of scenic delights and the excitement of going over comparatively virgin country. In substituting the train for the motor, most people will find that the transference has much in it’s favour. "
In substituting Running shoes for the Train the transference has even more in its favour :-)
After the railway tracks we ran underneath a patch of trees to the second aid station.
After the aid station we went onto the Half Collared Kingfisher Trail.
But of course via the "Bosduif Loop" Path, a monster climb on the side of a cliff.
In instances like this, the transference of train for running shoes has much in its favour :-)
Luckily the views were breathtaking, and that was not only due to my lack of fitness ;-)
But like Newton we were soon down again.
Criss crossing beautiful streams with mixed success...
And running a picturesque single track along the banks of the Touwsriver...
Soon we approached one of the signature features of the day's race... the Touwsriver pontoon!
It seems that most people made it safely across, but not without utilizing a great selfie opportunity...
Helped along by the faithful pontoon team!
After more fabulous single track we finally said goodbye to the river forest
But soon we reached the other standout feature of the stage... the infamous floating bridge across the Touwsriver :-)
Thanks Emma for the stunning image below! You can see more of her pictures on her Facebook page Elrorke Photography.
Soon thereafter we turned into Ebb & Flow rest camp.
And then there was the finish line... SOX 2018 done and dusted... 80km later.
Race organizer Hanno Otto was at the finish to personally congratulate all the finishers, with high fives and a well deserved medal.
Here is my lovely wife posing in the official race garment... a First Ascent Jacket! This was included in the race packs for all the Full and Sport runners, nice :-)
The table was heavily laden with prizes and we were well away with the prize giving before being summoned back to the finish line...
AJ van der Walt lost 139kg in the past three years. His story is an inspiration to many and he finished the SOX sport edition to a rousing cheer from all present...
While most of the runners put on their race jackets at the first opportunity AJ refused to wear his until he finished the race... or until he earned the right to wear it. Wear it with pride now AJ, you deserve it!
Thanks to the SOX team, especially Hanno and Sonja Otto for the opportunity to experience the amazing Southern Cross Trail run. It is a very special race in a very special part of our very special country.