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July 17, 2012

Franschhoek Bastille Day trail run 2012

Guest writer Bill Corcoran puts on a brave face before the Franschhoek Bastille Day Trail Run gets underway.

At 05h30 on Saturday, July 14, 2012, I began to question my sanity.

While most people in Cape Town were tucked up in bed, blissfully unaware of the rain running down their windowpanes, I was pulling on a pair of shorts and running shoes in preparation for my first organised trail run.

Runners on the trail

By the time I arrived at the Franschhoek Bastille Day Trail Run race starting area at 07h00, which was at the head of the Berg River Dam in the Cape’s wine region, my mood remained as bleak as the weather.

The rain had only been replaced by a biting cold wind and the frigid conditions left me wondering why trail running was such a popular sport in Cape Town over the winter season. Because from what I could see, it was very popular indeed.

Despite the weather, hundreds of runners were waiting to set off on three separate races: the short 12km course, which was the event I took part in; a more challenging 22km course that involved more hills; and for the truly tough nuts, a 35km course that took in some seriously mixed terrain.

It was only after five kilometres into the race, when my body had begun to warm up from physical exertion that the joys of trail running slowly began to dawn on me: it is so much more exciting, fun and scenic than road running.

Initially, we ran along contour paths through the hills surrounding the Berg River Dam, and because of the heavy rains a few waterfalls were spilling across our track. Later, we descended to trails alongside the rivers feeding into the dam and, occasionally, we had to plunge through the icy water to follow the route to other side.

Runners are informed on the trail race route around the Berg River Dam.

While that might not sound too tempting, I found it strangely satisfying to run through a cold river without a thought for keeping myself dry. Maybe I’m a bit of a masochist, but it brought a smile to my face.

After one-and-a-half hours I crossed the finish line, and the sense of achievement was satisfying. Once you’ve put yourself through a gruelling experience like that there is only one thing to do: treat yourself.

And so my running team and I headed off to Franschhoek and its Bastille day celebrations where we had lunch at Reuben’s restaurant, one of the best eateries in the Western Cape, if not South Africa. It was the perfect end to what started out as a very daunting day.

To find out more about trail running in Cape Town, visit www.trailrunning.co.za.

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