Fairview Fairies – Chantel Nienaber’s Dryland Traverse Race Report

Race ready with my partner  Katya - Photo by: Oakpics/Fairview Dryland Traverse/SPORTZPICS
Race ready with my partner Katya – Photo by: Oakpics/Fairview Dryland Traverse/SPORTZPICS

I was looking forward to returning to the Dryland Traverse after a 6 year absence. Running with Katya in one of the most beautiful places in South Africa. Land of sun, braaivleis,wine, the ostrich, Cango Caves and the Swartberg mountains.

I had been fortunate enough to have been invited to participate in the inaugural race, and was thrilled when Donald from Fairview offered Katya and me an entry for this year.

Six years later I was pleasantly surprised to experience that same sort of hospitality and intimacy that I originally felt made this event so special.  I was warmly received by the event organisers, with their wives even remembering me too (possibly because I could not stop raving about their scrumptious meals previously). The fact that the event had grown from 60 runners to over 300, did not take away from the attention to detail and willingness to serve.

Running through the Cango Caves - Photo by: Oakpics/Fairview Dryland Traverse/SPORTZPICS
Running through the Cango Caves – Photo by: Oakpics/Fairview Dryland Traverse/SPORTZPICS

Something new that has been added since 2011 was the Saturday night party.  What a winning recipe! I didn’t plan to break out in a sweat on the dance floor – being roped into doing the Locomotion and Macarena. (I definitely think that a contributing factor was the complimentary Fairview wine that they had on tap!) I haven’t danced like that for years. What fun, getting to cut a rug with all of your new and old trail running friends.

Thankfully my muscles weren’t feeling too hammered after that marathon dancing session.  Lee from EPT recovery had been giving my body lots of TLC in the recovery zone, after each day’s stage. So by the time we got to the final stage I was ready for action.

Sliping under a fallen tree while Katja waits behind me - Oakpics/Fairview Dryland Traverse/SPORTZPICS{dem16gst}
Sliping under a fallen tree while Katja waits behind me – Oakpics/Fairview Dryland Traverse/SPORTZPICS{dem16gst}

Katya and I didn’t get to run as hard as what we would have liked to have on Day 2 and 3, due to the fact that she was struggling with blisters.(Life is not always perfect.)

Day 4 was only 11 kilometres, but what fun it was. 80% of the day was single track with a few obstacles thrown in to keep it interesting. We ended up running for the majority of the day with the Don-Wauchope’s. Iain and I were having so much fun amongst the obstacles, he even had time to knock out a quick pull up at the one station.

Something that I loved about returning to the Dryland Traverse is the fact that the majority of the routes were completely different. I got to explore new parts of the Swartberg mountains that I’ve never yet seen before and was always eager to arrive at the well-stocked water points. It was difficult to restrain myself when there was: from koeksisters, date balls and brownies, to a large stock of 32GI Supplements and not to mention the hot strips of fillet straight off the braai.

All smiles at the finish line -  Oakpics/Fairview Dryland Traverse/SPORTZPICS
All smiles at the finish line – Oakpics/Fairview Dryland Traverse/SPORTZPICS

Reflecting upon the race I can honestly say that I can’t faulter the Dryland team on anything.  From the route markers, to the friendly medics and the photographers that were situated throughout the route.

I can now understand why some people have been going back to De Hoek for the past six years to participate in this event. This is a very special, with a great vibe. I was treated like a long lost friend that had an opportunity to romp around in the mountains and get food for my Soul.

– Hot Pants Nienaber

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