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African X 2017: Our hat-trick year

The race mission assigned by my awesome coach, David Roche: RUN LIKE A PUPPY: positivity is a performance enhancer, smile your cheeks off. I’m proud to say I completed that mission, although running like a puppy is an ongoing goal I will always be trying to achieve.

Seeing as this was my 4th consecutive African X, I decided to look back and read all my previous race reports – 2014, 2015 and 2016 - to try and remember the feelings and moments that the race has previously brought.

It was quite enlightening to read how much I’ve learnt over the years. It was even more wonderful to acknowledge that my love of trail running, racing, single track, mountains, and pine forests has not diminished one bit over the years! In 2014 my blog read, “Day two was beautiful and varied, from pine forests (both of our favourite), to single track, and fun, fast switch backs.” And once again, the shaded pine forests and their wonderful scents stuck out as my favourite running moment at the 2017 edition!

In 2016 I was also pleased to read that Landie and I “had a beautiful 3 days of quality time together with each other and the trail community.” That too, hasn’t changed at all, and this year our highlight of the whole weekend was getting to spend some down time and stoke sharing with all the happy trail people!

2017 was Landie and my hat-trick year together. We have been through every up and down on the trails together and this year was no different. We had moments of feeling invincible, and moments of having to dig deep for ourselves or for each other. We had moments of disappointment and moments of total elation. And that’s what makes this race so damn cool! It’s a giant 3 day rollercoaster which always spits you out feeling completely exhausted but high-fiving life for being awesome.

Day 1 was tougher than expected, the heat, surprise 2km extra and strong competition got us off to a hard-hitting start! We finished with about a 5 minute lead and happy legs so we were feeling positive for the following day. Day 2 was a rather strategic day for us. It started with a good 6km of pancake flat and sandy running, and finished with another flat-as-you-like section of super fast jeep track. We had to play to our strengths and push the hills and descents if we stood a chance against the speedy Asics and My Training Day girls! Everything went according to plan until the last section where we could see our lead getting smaller and smaller as the flat jeep track went on. We had to dig pretty deep to push that last section, and managed to gain another minute or so on our lead.

Landie and I know day 3 like the back of our hands by now, and knew exactly what we had to do to keep our overall title in the bag. Nevertheless we were pushed out of our comfort zone by Carla and Leilani in the first 8kms of flat switchbacks, and they continued to run such a strong race to take the stage win. Despite our efforts we couldn’t catch them, and finished day 3 a few minutes behind in second place.

Crossing the finish line with a 4th overall African X win was a fantastic feeling. Every year the competition gets stronger, and we all push ourselves a little bit more. I think that’s what is so great about the race, it gets you right out of your comfort zone and tests your resilience, strength and grit to the max.

The biggest thank you to my wonderful, strong, talented partner – Landie Greyling. We’ve made the best memories and had so much fun doing what we love most! Thank you to Salomon for making it possible for us to race. This year was my first race with my new TomTom Adventurer which I absolutely loved! Rush Nutrition and Bos Sport kept me nourished and hydrated and fully fueled for adventure. I’m so lucky to have these awesome sponsors in my corner. Big up to all the participants of African X and the organizers, what a race!

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