By: Michael Mostert
It was that time of the year when the beauty of Umlalazi Nature Reserve called me back to tackle the not one, but two day trail hosted by Mtunzini AC.
I decided to do the two day race with my ankle conversing with me in fluent Gaelic. “Remember your history with trail runs and also remember you just recovered from a broken ankle, break dancing down the wet steps” I said to myself. Weighing up my options and waking up with my trail run nightmares and cold sweats, I entered the two day Bushbaby Whacker which compromised of 15km on day one and 10 km on day two.
The day dawned as we all gathered around burning fire baskets in nervous chatter. It was great to see the friendly faces of other Stella peeps who like me were tackling the whacker. We lined up in our multi coloured regalia and camel packs stocked enough for Mount Kilimanjaro. “Yho! these trail runners are serious, what have I got myself on for” I thought.…
The race set off at 7 am to the start of a fish eagle call. I lined up with fellow Stella crazies, Samantha and Maureen, as we headed into the green forest of the reserve. Maureen and Sam bounded down the hill like impala being hunted by Cheetah. We headed through a section of the golf course safely and entered into the most beautiful scenery of forest paths, fallen yellow leaves, wooden walk ways, bridge crossings, and trees as we meandered through the foot paths and the tush-aching beach section. The beach was breath taking, even the cold shark infested water looked inviting to cool down burning glutes. My time was slow as I helped out a young fellow runner with an Achilles tendon injury, but bounded off like a hare to the finish line another 7 km away ….
After two hours of awesome trails we headed up to the finish which felt like a category 1 climb on the Tour De France. We crawled over the finish line to family and friends welcoming us home. That was day one, day two was a sight to see as those who did day one were lined up with aching muscles. It was a comedy of errors seeing those, including myself, hobble down the hill with moans and groans. Some of us literally looked like crabs running back into the ocean with stiff legs. This time we hobbled past the fairway and no stray golf balls to worry about as a drone hovered above. We entered the cool forest again with odd sightings of Duiker, Zebra and Mongoose ..
At least for the 10km option there was no beach section, thank goodness. I went to see the 15 km route and the size of the beach dune they had to traverse up, which was not for the faint hearted!
All in all, I had two awesome days on two different routes and recommend this race as a must for all Stella runners. You can arrange a weekend getaway in the camp site with other clubs or stay in one of the many chalets and BnBs in the tranquil village of Mtunzini. Highly recommended!