Words: Ian Macleod #CountryRunner
My adventures for Country Life appear to have earned me a reputation. Yesterday I received a memo wherein I was described as “that mad digital editor”. I considered it rather a compliment. In fact, it provided some motivation for my next expedition: the Three Cranes Challenge.
Succinctly, this is three days of trail running in the KZN Midlands. But it is far more than that. Here’s a little itinerary of what to expect from live tweets and Facebook updates.
I depart on 26 February in the nugget little Ford EcoSport. That’s the vehicle I took to the Drakensberg for the inaugural Run the Berg last year. It really is ideal for these jaunts.
My destination is the Bushwillow Camp in Karkloof, KZN. Organisers of the race put on a terrific tented village, with a dining hall, tents for competitors and all the other basics you need. I anticipate quite a vibe here.
I’ll spend the day exploring and meeting some of the experts and managers involved with Wildlands and the Karkloof Conservatory. They have some impressive plans for crane conservation, as I highlighted in the previous post.
After registration and a race briefing, there will be just enough time for a bite to eat and then off to bed. Friday morning starts at 6am with a 32km run! Two things really concern me about this. First, it sounds like the route includes the Karkloof Canopy Tour – and I’m rather scared of heights. Second, the warning on the Wildseries website: “Remember that there is a bit of a sting in the tail, so keep some humour for the last stretch!”
Fortunately, I have rather a treat planned for Friday night. I head off to the deluxe Karkloof Safari Spa. This is one of the most luxurious spots in the country, and will only feature in our ‘once in a lifetime’ segments coming up. The distinguishing feature is that nothing is limited. Once you’ve booked and arrived, you can indulge in all the spa treatments, gourmet cuisine and wine your heart desires. And I shall.
Saturday morning is the beast. 42km is hard enough on a smooth road, but this is on KwaZulu-Natal’s rolling hills. I am scared, but the good kind of scared. We spend lots of time running through Mbona, where I spend plenty of childhood holidays, which ought to bring back memories of flyfishing and late night games of scrabble.
That night I rest my bones back at the camp and prepare for the 4am start to the Sunday run. Yes, 4am. As the infamous ‘Four Yorksiremen’ wold put it, before we’ve even gone to sleep! Head lamps will be necessary for the initial hour or two. I’ll also call on my thermal cycling kit from joBerg2c! 32km take us to the finish of the run. Mount Gilboa seems to be the big attraction of the day.
But it won’t be over for me. I have another treat. After concluding events and some farewells, I head to the well-known Granny Mouse Country House for the night (and perhaps another massage on the old pins). With the racing over, I look forward to hitting pause in this haven of old-style country charm. And I believe the grub is excellent!