My Kaapsehoop race review

I remember putting my leave in at work for the Kaapsehoop road race at the beginning of the year, thinking that the race was months away. But as we’ve all seen, the end of the year has arrived in supersonic speed. Our road trip to run our 4th Kaapsehoop road race arrived sooner than we thought. I was undertrained.

The breathtaking Mbombela Stadium with its giraffes and zebra lines. Love it!

I downgraded to the 10km race which meant I could legitimately collect my race t-shirt at registration and keep busy while KK ran his marathon.

Being married to an engineer, most events are planned down to the last minute. We have a holiday packing spreadsheet and a pretty good idea of exactly how the weekend will pan out. But things didn’t always go according to plan.

It’s Nelspruit so you’d expect hot and humid weather. But it dropped to 13 degrees and I was lucky I had packed in a warm top. KK had only packed in shorts and slops.

Milkshakes are at another level nowadays! KK was not complaining.

We stopped for a light lunch at Halls Farm Stall knowing we’d be tucking into saucy pastas later on.

I found this gorgeous Pinocchio at the Farm Stall. I’ve renamed him Stoute Kabouter!

Our carbo-loading plans were dashed when we arrived at the Riverside Mall to discover that the Primi had closed down. KK started to panic. In his mind, an early supper of gnocchi or Alfredo would fill his belly nicely and he’d be ready to run. Now what?

We ended up at the Mugg ‘n Bean. Disappointed. A Milky Lane soft serve ice cream saved my day.

What makes the Kaapsehoop race unique is the 3am bus trips to the start of the race. Shivering in the foggy forest waiting for the gun to signal the start of the race, followed by 42/21kms of downhills. It all adds to the experience of the day.

My 10km race as we headed out for 5kms, to turn back for 5kms.

Done! Not as fast as I would have liked. But I enjoyed it.

My 10km race was the last few kilometers of the marathon route. It’s the ruthless and relentless finishing climb into the Mbombela Stadium. For most of the runners, it’s a painful walk.

The 10km route – down and then up again.

The good news? KK qualified for Comrades! He ran a 3:54 and was thrilled with his time. He has battled injuries for over a year and the smile on his face as he crossed that line… priceless.

It was a good weekend away. We spent a few hours (because that’s all you can do) in Kaapsehoop itself, spotting a few horses.

We also regrouped with some of our running junkies for a hearty Italian meal on Saturday evening.

The races we ran this year, focused more on 10km distances.

It’s the final official road race for us for 2018. When I look back, it’s been a year of rest. It’s been a year of scaling down, focusing more on strength training. But it’s been a welcoming relief not to have the pressure that running often brings.

I suspect next year will be different. KK is rearing to go!

Running with the horses: a race review of Kaapsehoop

We’ve never run Kaapsehoop before but had heard many reviews of the race itself. Fast, easy, downhill all the way. Great for a PB. Running with wild horses. It sounded magical, so off we went.

The race profile. Downhill all the way home.

The race profile. Downhill all the way home.

My highlights of the race:

  • Race number collection was super quick and easy. It’s the first time I’ve seen the Mbombela Stadium & it’s stunning. KK got so caught up in the excitement, he decided to upgrade to the 21km.
  • Busses on the morning of the race were on time & made the run even more adventurous being driven up to the start of the race. Doing “my business” in the forest because the port-a-loo queue was so long is another story!
  • The water points were excellent! In that boiling hot sun, the water was ice cold at every stop. They even increased the water stops closer to the finish, knowing full well that this is where runners would need it most in that heat!
  • Snacks, such as bananas, oranges and even koeksisters (yup!) were on offer at the water points. Even Vaseline.
  • Ice in cups of Coke as you crossed the finish line. What a delightful experience! It’s the little things…
    Race entries at the Mbombela Stadium. Is it just me or can you see the giraffes?

    Race entries at the Mbombela Stadium. Is it just me or can you see the giraffes?

    Running club tents erected at the finish

    Running club tents erected at the finish

What I thought would be an easy race because it was mainly downhill all the way proved to be quite challenging for me. I know that I dislike hate flat races. But downhill ones aren’t exactly easy either. I was consistent in my pace but not that much faster. Running downhill felt like it took loads more energy.

The road had an uncomfortable camber for almost the entire way and I woke up the next morning with blisters between my toes but only on my right foot. The heat made it pretty tough too and I take off my running peak to the marathon runners who battled it out on the road in those temperatures!

What I lacked in speed on the downhills I certainly made up for on the hills. The last three km’s were hell but I felt strong. I’m quite happy with my time. I had hoped to run under 2:40 but came in at 2:44 (my Pick ‘n Pay & Vaal PB) which is great considering I’ve struggle to run under 2:50 since picking up with 21km runs at the end of winter. I can only improve on this and Dischem is coming up in January.

I was so happy to see that finish line!

I was so happy to see that finish line!

So did we see any wild horses? Nope, which means we must go back, right? And besides, with such a well organised race in such a beautiful setting, it’s an easy decision.

We stayed with friends at Pine Lake Resort and woke up to this spectacular view every morning

We stayed with friends at Pine Lake Resort and woke up to this spectacular view every morning