Venom enriched running – aka Spiderwomen….

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Running on Leisure Isle with Sally 

This week was an awesome holiday week which was long overdue. I visited my sister and the family who live in Knysna. I have been visiting Knysna for many many years but I wasn’t the fitness fanatic that I am now. So after a bit of drought from visiting (mostly because of travelling to trail races ironically) I booked a trip to Knysna to visit the family and actually participate in some of the well know Oyster Festival activities.

My trip coincided with the arrival of a huge cold front but luckily this passed before any of my activities started. It did however provide some frosty mornings.

On the Thursday before I flew down I discovered a tiny bite which I thought was actually a pimple on my tummy and didn’t think much of it. Maybe I should have…..

So my first challenge for the trip after having taken full advantage of not having to get up at 4:30 for gym was to run the Featherbed Trail Run organised by the famous Collins brothers. A 15km race from Buffalo Bay back to Knysna. It was rather weird rocking up to a race where you didn’t know anyone. I felt a little lost I won’t lie. I missed my trailies. Luckily I met up with Chandre Boshoff from Garden Route Trails who was very welcoming. I now have trailie friends all over the country!

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The start of the Featherbed Trail run on Buffalo Bay beach

The run involved about 7km of beach running which was rather intimidating but turned out to be beautiful. Luckily the sand was hard and easy to run on.

Running on the beach I met AJ a fellow trailie who is on an amazing weightloss journey. He was 300kg and has lost a substantial amount of weight and is still going strong. He was doing the big 5 challenge and was inspirational. Ironically he ran in a spiderman shirt (he wore the same shirt when I bumped into him on the half marathon). Unfortunately I couldn’t stay with him as it would have been fun! I left him with the sweeper which I was a little relieved about. Its always a relief to shake the sweeper!

With a nasty climb up to Brenton it was a fabulous downhill run to the finish. I just had to contend with the 11km runners coming past which forced me to run on the railway track and did disrupt my run. I saw this as an opportunity to practice strides. Running across the lagoon was such fun. We were told by Mark Collins that it was illegal to fall on this run, particularly on the lagoon bridges! LOL

I must say the race was super well organised and the lucky draw prizes were amazing. I hooked up with some fellow Harriers at the end and Dave won a Suunto watch which was pretty cool! Put this one on the to do list. Its not very hard and very picturesque. You also get a lekker meal at the end which is always a win… 🙂

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Running across the Knysna lagoon along the unused train line

I realised after this run that the bite I thought was nothing may be something more than just a pimple. It was starting to look a little red and angry but I felt fine and did some self medicating. How bad could it be…..

On Thursday, my fellow bubbly Sally arrived which was fabulous as we would be running the Knynsa Forest Half Marathon together. We took a nice trot around Leisure Isle to loosen the legs. Bit of trail, bit of road. What a pleasure!

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Friday was a tourist day and got to spend some time with my 16 year old nephew who I haven’t seen for ages! I even got a selfie with him! We spent some time on Brenton on Sea beach and showed Sally some of the sights of Knysna in beautiful winter sunshine.

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My handsome nephew Josh

We also realised that I definitely had a spider bite which was not looking so lekker! But there was running to be had and despite instructions from mother dear I just patched it up and hoped for the best…

Saturday morning we dragged my poor sister out of bed at 4:30 to drop us off at the taxi’s to take us into the forest for the start of the marathon. Luckily it was just a free wheel down the road so she could go back to bed shortly thereafter.

What a well organised run. We arrived in the forest just after 5:30 and then proceeded to freeze. Luckily Sally and I had purchased some warm blankets to bring with. Momentum sponsors blankets for the first 2000 runners to arrive in the forest and these are then donated to charity. We were concerned that we wouldn’t be in time so came prepared. I must say I nearly took one anyway as they were so nice and warm but ours worked just as well. No blanket was going to defrost our toes however which was the biggest problem. We caught up with Loskop buddies Rose and Lynette who were styling dressing gowns! It was rather comical but very effective! I will be doing that next year. It was rather funny to see blankets going flying when the start gun went off! Luckily it was a rather warm day and the cold didn’t last long.

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In the start shute with Sally, Lynette and Rose

Whilst they call it a forest marathon you actually run through plantations. Now all my trailies know I am a bit of a purest and loathe exotic trees and alien vegetation. I did however enjoy the route and it was much tougher than expected.

So about that bite… I realised whilst running with a lady from Greenstone (we found out later that she actually follows me on strava! Small world) and enjoying ourselves that my heart rate was a little high but I felt fine. That bite was definitely having an effect. But there was still running to be done…

Sunday morning I woke up with very sore calf muscles and a VERY sore spider bite. Not being the skinniest person my stomach tends to move when I run – not a pretty picture I know but this was going to be a problem. But I wasn’t missing the Houtkapper. From exotic forest the day before, this was going to be indigenous forest which I just couldn’t miss! Hey, maybe I would see an elusive Knysna elephant (you would have heard me back in jhb if I had). The forest was super special, I loved every moment even though I couldn’t run the downhills. There were lots of steep uphills which made it quite a challenge but luckily I had my trusty trekking poles to help me! And I didn’t even see the sweeper whilst power walking so that was a win!

Beautiful indigenous forest – heavenly

The week was special in that I had some awesome supporters. Josh took some pics of me at the marathon and I had Josh and my sister cheer me in at Houtkapper. That certainly made up for the lack of trailies.

Back in jhb now with a huge infected spider bite and feeling a little sorry for myself. Can’t run until it heals which may take a while but hey.. just call me spiderwomen…

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