Modern Athlete Magazine Issue 134, October 2020 Issue 134, October 2020 - Page 28

TRAIL RUNNING

Third Time Lucky

In trail running circles , the K-Way SkyRun 100km race in the Witteberg Mountains of the Eastern Cape is usually spoken of in revered terms . They call it South Africa ’ s toughest mountain race , a life-changing adventure , and a chance to experience nature at its best as you find your true self . That ’ s why it is on many a trail runner ’ s bucket list for “ one day when they are big ,” and winning it is one hell of a feather in the cap of any runner . Let alone winning it twice . And that makes it all the more impressive that Lucky Miya will be going after a third win this November . – BY SEAN FALCONER

If there is one thing Lucky Miya knows well , it ’ s

that the winning the SkyRun is tough . “ It ’ s one of the toughest races in the country , so you don ’ t go there and win easily , you have to prepare very well , and your running strategy has to be right . It takes a lot to get it all right on race day ,” says the 39-year-old Boksburg-based trail runner . “ I wouldn ’ t say I ’ m in top form , so I will use all my experience this year , because I ’ ll be pushing for the win again . It felt great winning it before , so I ’ m looking forward to racing it again .”
In terms of his racing strategy for SkyRun , Lucky says he usually doesn ’ t like to plan too much before the race , other than knowing the distance between checkpoints , carrying enough nutrition and water in his pack , and having dry , clean kit waiting at the Ballock checkpoint just past halfway . “ I have my own approach . It ’ s better not to overthink , and I prefer not to check out route profiles beforehand . I don ’ t start too fast , I ’ m mentally tough , and I just go !”
“ I believe most of my planning happens during the run , and it depends how I feel , and how my body responds . It can be affected by the weather , or the pace of others . The most important thing is to know
and understand the route , especially due to the distance and toughness of SkyRun . And of course , pacing is so important , because it ’ s a long way – you may feel great now , and even for the next hour , but after that you may go through a bad patch .”
Lucky is the first to admit that he has not done as much mileage in training as he would have liked , but that has been mostly beyond his control . “ It ’ s all down to lockdown , which really had a bad effect on my training . I did manage a few runs in the early months of lockdown , because I couldn ’ t just do nothing – I wouldn ’ t have coped – so I did short runs of four to five kilometres with my boys , which really helped a lot . As a sportsperson , it was hard not to be able to do what you are used to doing , but at least we remained safe . It was tough , and I have learnt a lot about myself
in this year .”

Finding His Niche

Just as the SkyRun is known for its toughness , so too is Lucky known for being a gnarly trail goat , but it took him a while to take to the trails . “ As a boy growing up in QwaQwa in the Free State , I adored soccer and I trained hard , but I always made the bench when it was game
time ,” he explains . “ Then when I was 16 , someone told me to give running a try , and I have never stopped . My first race was a half marathon , which I finished in 1:20 , and my first marathon was in that same year , where I crossed the line in 2:53 . But I got into long distances far too quickly , so I slowed it down and built up with crosscountry , track , 10km events and so on .”
That saw Lucky steadily improve his times , and he would go on to the post personal bests of 29:41 for 10km and 1:04:47 for the half marathon , and a marathon best of 2:16:41 , which earned him sixth place in the 2008 Sanlam Cape Town Marathon . “ That race was live on TV and it was so special to me to finish in the Top 10 ,” he recalls . Lucky also has a 6:23 Comrades Marathon PB , and a blistering best of 3:24 in the Two Oceans Ultra . However , after 12 years of running , Lucky says he had reached a point where he felt he could no longer improve his times on the road , which prompted him to try something new , so in 2009 he decided to hit the trails .
He had already discovered a genuine love for off-road running thanks to the Harrismith Mountain Run , one of his favourite races to run each year and which he
Images : Llewellyn Lloyd / Reblex Photography
28 ISSUE 134 OCTOBER 2020 / www . modernathlete . co . za