As I begin writing this post race reflection, it’s been 2 days since we finished the Karkloof 100 miler. Richard and I have been camped out at my sister’s house, slowly recovering while we begin the process of self-reflection after another brutally blissful 100 miler. The race was incredibly well organized, the aid station and volunteers were next level, the scenery and terrain was both gorgeous and challenging. I really believe that what Andrew Booth and his team have put together here is destined to be a 100 miler of global significance and appeal. So, where the fuck was my epiphany?
After slaying many a dragon along the route, Richard and I started off on the final 16km stretch from Karkloof 11 back to Yard 41 with a sense of peace and resolve that we were going to finish this beast. The weather had calmed, the air was cool and the going was easy. We started reflecting a little on the first few km’s after leaving the relative comforts of our last pit stop.
Jim: “Ok man, final little push, we’ve got this buddy, well fucking done again you little champ.”
High fiving each other
Richard: “Thank you man, like seriously, thanks for this journey so far, I would never have gone this far if you hadn’t pushed me man.”
Richard is always graceful and genuinely grateful towards me on these adventures. It’s a character trait I admire in him and one that I still need to learn.
Jim: “You might not want to hear this right now, but we’re not done yet. We gotta enter UTMB now that we’ve got the points and if we don’t get into that then maybe Tahoe 200.”
Richard: Laughs knowingly and nervously.
Richard: “I know, but let’s just enjoy this last stretch, nothing to be gained by trying to smash it now.”
Jim: “Yup, thankfully the weather has cleared up, beautiful evening for a final trundle to the end.”
Thick mist then immediately sets in around us and our headlamps are blinding us. With all the heavy weather during the race many of the race markers have been trashed and are bloody difficult to spot through the mist. We had gotten ourselves lost 3 times during the race and really didn’t want to go astray again at this stage.
Richard: “Fuck.” He says, in a way that only Richard van der Spuy can say it.
Our mood immediately shifts but we recognize this as quickly as the mist set in and grab the mood by the scruff of the neck.
Jim: “Ok, let’s just relax, nearly there.’
Richard: “Yeah, probably just a small patch of mist, will be out of it soon.”
A few minutes later we’re through the worst of it and back to decent visibility.
Richard: “Not a single hallucination yet hey.” He says, as if disappointed.
Jim: “Yeah, strange that, I honestly thought we would be tripping balls by now.”
Richard: “I feel a lot stronger than I did at the same stage on ADDO, definitely feel this one was a bit easier.”
Jim: “Yeah, although easy is not really a first-choice adjective.”
Richard: “Hahaha, for sure.”
Jim: “Let’s give ourselves some credit, we’re obviously a wee bit stronger than we were at ADDO.”
Rich: “Ya man, but still, not feeling anywhere near as obliterated.” Again said with a weird tinge of disappointment.
Jim: “My foot is fucked, but otherwise I’m feeling ok man.”
Peace and tranquility prevailed throughout the final stage even when we started speed marching and running the final few km’s anxious to get it done, but something was bugging us.
We had been looking forward to this race for a long time, pretty much right after completing ADDO 100 miler in March in fact. The Karkloof 100 miler would be Richard and my 2nd 100 miler and our final qualifying race for UTMB if we were fortunate enough to finish it. Since ADDO we had also recruited some friends into the sport of trail running with Dom, Ryan and Shane all entering the Karkloof 50 miler. We had a started a little whatsapp group called Mountain Goats and already run a few awesome trail races together. Most notably, Num Num Challenge and Spring Mweni. The lead up to the Karkloof 100 miler was pretty much perfect barring a few injury scares and winter bugs. So, I ask once more with feeling, where the fuck was my epiphany?
I mean, after ADDO we honestly felt like we had been abducted by aliens and shown a whole new universe of incredibleness where we were anointed as the supreme leaders. We sat upon our thrones in this parallel universe in the days after ADDO trying to string together elaborate sounding metaphors that could adequately articulate our vision for peace, unity and prosperity across all the galaxies that we now presided over. This lasted for a couple of months before our respective daily grinds brought us back to earth.
Yet, in the immediate aftermath of the Karkloof 100 miler we were strangely and worryingly indifferent. The anticipated euphoria of a transcendent self was MIA, the expected long-lasting endorphin rush didn’t show up at the after party and we felt like we were all dressed up with nowhere to go. I mean, we kept our side of the bargain, we finished this beast, so where the hell was our runner’s high. Our feeling that we were not mere mortals but higher powers with the right to revel in our newly discovered super powers. Not cool man, the dealer sold us duds.
Ok, before I call the dealer and demand my money back let me state for the record. This race is destined for great things. It was hard to believe that the race is only in its second year. The organization was world class and some. The ethos and culture of the race is already very evident and it’s awesome. The people that put this together are special people, they are givers not takers. I do hope I get to know them better as time goes on and I continue my own selfish search for enlightenment by running ridiculous distances in the mountains. In fairness, I have already pledged my support for Karkloof 2019, if not as a runner then as a volunteer.
After 2 days of hardcore chilling at my sister’s place in Pinetown, Richard and I decided we needed to get out of the house and go have a coffee somewhere. We drove up the legendary Fields Hill to a great spot called Bellevue Café. Since we felt a bit cheated in terms of our post-race high, then let’s give the only other drug we’re still into a try.
“Can we please have 2 x double shot, almond milk, flat white’s. Then can we have 2 more as soon as we’ve finished round 1.”
“Oh, and two glasses of water with lots of lemon but no ice please. Thanks a stack.”
Jim: “That should do the trick hey Rich?”
Richard: “Absolutely man. How’re you feeling today, how’s the foot?”
Jim: “Still tender AF, but I don’t think it’s broken or anything like that.”
Richard: “Better just get it checked out anyway man.”
Jim: “I will.”
Richard: “Ja man, I’m feeling surprisingly good, nowhere near the pain I expected.”
I agree with Richard and we talk for a few minutes about ourselves and the race. We keep on comparing this race to ADDO and how we felt afterwards. Richard and I are searchers by nature and as we try to make sense of it all we are finding it difficult to break out of the circular conversation. It wasn’t as hard as ADDO, I didn’t hallucinate, I don’t feel as enlightened, but it was a great race. Rinse repeat.
Recognizing that we’re stuck in a circular conversation that is mostly informed by our own ill-informed, pre-conceived and dare I say, conceited notions of what the race should have been, we take a breath.
Jim: “Hey man, let’s just take a moment here, that really was another incredible adventure and a bloody well-organized race hey.”
Richard: “Ja, it really was.”
Jim: “The volunteers along the way were next level hey, took me by surprise with their keenness to help and get involved at every single checkpoint.”
Richard: “The set up at the beginning was incredible as well, the meal and the generosity at the race village was quite something.”
Jim: “Incredible vibe throughout the race hey. Amazing people.”
Richard: “How incredible is little Welile hey, never stopped smiling the entire race.”
Jim: “Was really cool running most of the race with her and Siphiwe, bloody strong runners the both of them.”
Jim: “And you know her seconder, Nontuthuko? She said at the end that one of her highlights was meeting us? How hectic? I mean I remember even being a bit of an ass at Rockwood.”
Richard: “Wow, good people hey, she’s also a pretty serious runner I heard.”
Jim: “And how radical was Justin hey, dude is a legend man.”
Richard: “I laughed when you asked him if he was going to join us for the last leg.”
Jim: “Hahaha, he wasn’t having it hey.”
Richard: “Longest he’s ever been on his feet and furthest he’s ever run. Such a positive dude hey.”
Jim: “Dude, that was epic hey. I really need to work on my gratitude and humility a bit, I mean, what were we expecting and why?”
Richard: “Thanks man, I really mean it, thanks.”
Jim: “Thank you man. Hopefully many more in our future.”
From there on in we descended into a new and glorious circular conversation as we reflected on the awesomeness that was the Karkloof 100 miler #Karkloof100.
“That was an incredible race organized and supported by some of the most incredible people you could ever hope to meet.”
“Man, we are so lucky to be able to take part in this kind of thing.”
“Fuck me, we’ve got a lot to be grateful for.”
And there it was, my epiphany: “Learn some humility you asshole.”
This race and nobody in it owed me anything. Yet, so many have gone out of their way for me to make this even possible. I am a novice at this and don’t have a cooking clue about shit. Hopefully, I will carry this very important lesson into the next race and beyond. More importantly, I hope that I can carry these lessons into my everyday life.