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TRAIL | Lynford Umko Trail

[image] 09 September 2016

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Runners were ushered onto the truck in semi-darkness, the sun barely visible and the landscape enveloped with a thick layer of Ixopo mist.  Their only clue to where they were going was the loud rattling of their metal enclosure and the bumps in the road which occasionally had them hovering in mid-air. Introductions to fellow runners were loud – their only way of being heard - adding to the tension and the excitement of what was about to come.

45 minutes later, after much banter and laughter – a seemingly bonding experience - the doors of the labour truck were finally opened, commencing the 4th Lynford Umko Descent and the inaugural Stage Race. Day 1 of an exciting and story-eliciting weekend of Trail running.

Setting off at lightning speed, descending the spectacular Umkomaas valley on the trail famously known as Day 2 of the Sani2c cycle race. The remote single track took its runners deep into the bushveld with steep slopes and the occasional cow, warthog, buck or goat choosing the same route.

“The most awesome 2 days of trail running. The Lynford Umko Trail is by far the best kept secret in KZN.” –Alison Chadwick

As the mist lifted and the sun beamed through, alighting the valley in a yellow light – runners were welcomed by the sound of the mighty Umkomaas River, marking the end of the 18km in which new records we made. From here - refreshed with drinks and homemade energy bars– the runners were required to cross the river on inflatable boats, kindly manned by a couple of strapping local rugby lads, before embarking on the final stretch of the 30 km Umko Descent.  Steven Erasmus, was the first to the finish line, powering in at 2:09:00 and Debbie Kitto, the first lady, finishing with a time of 2:38:49.

Runners were transported back to the beautiful Ixopo Lynford grounds, a somewhat sociable experience;   reinforcing the earlier comradeship between runners at the start of the race.  As they drove through the school gates, they were welcomed by a vibrant and bustling atmosphere; with a market, delicious food, music, an inflatable slide for kids bigger than any I’ve ever seen, a spook hall, tractor rides, a sweet explosion, touch rugby and motorbike races that would have any biker sweating at the palms!

“Big hats off to the organisers of the motorbike fun ride, best fun ride event I have ever done!” – Mark Gallagher

“What a magic weekend. Such an awesome friendly and helpful bunch of teachers, parents and sponsors. I am grateful for the special memories you created for all who took part in the arranged events.” –Shan Mclelland

The second Day of Trail Running started with a boom at 8am sharp! 4km, 8km and 15km races meandered their way around the Ixopo farmlands; through forests and lush fields – offering the runners classic views of ‘Clover Country’ and a refreshing flute of Champagne and Orange Juice near the end!

“Nothing like a glass of champagne and orange juice to welcome you ALMOST home!” – Alison

Some might think that after Saturday’s race, the runners might be a ‘little slower’ and less inclined to break into a near sprint, but it is worth mentioning the incredible ‘Skhumbuzo Dlamini’ started an entire hour late the previous day and still managed to come 13th and then went onto smash the 15km’s in a mere 1:07:01, Wendy Arnott, an ex-Ixopo girl, powered the ladies 15km in 1:38:01.

2016 marks another successful Lynford Clover Country weekend, with a total of 230 runners participating in the trail events. It’s a weekend that epitomizes country hospitality, embraces community spirit and without a doubt, a weekend that will leave you with a few more extraordinary memories.


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