( MIS ) ADVENTURES trail ( mis ) adventures by CARLA LEA FARINA
More than Just a Run
Now and again you get to be part of something really special , like a very exclusive run on the wild side .
There is usually no good time to experience a Trail MisAdventure ( my speciality ), but the one time you really , really do not want one is when you are running through a ‘ Big 5 ’ nature reserve . It should be obvious , but the reason is that a misadventure would be something along the lines of finding yourself alone with a hungry lion , being chased by an angry elephant bull named Jo , or accidentally coming across man-eating spiders that may lay eggs in your brain …
So , none of these things actually happened to me on the last run I went on , but I have to say that the Abelana Trail Experience at the end of June was an experience that I will never forget . Presented by Umoya Adventures , it was a three-day luxury trail run and bush indulgence micro-event limited to just eight people , with running partner Su-yen and I part of the group led by event organiser Hanno Langenhoven .
Abelana Game Reserve is a Big Five game reserve adjacent to the Greater Kruger National Park and the Selati Game Reserve , close to the town of Phalaborwa . Owned by the Mashishimale community , the word “ abelana ” means “ to share amongst each other ” in the local Northern Sotho language , and during this wonderful running experience , we got to share in the beauty of the reserve which is home to the Big Five – elephant , rhino , leopard , lion and buffalo – as well as cheetah , wild dog , hippos , crocodiles and more .
Treated Like Royalty
We arrived at the reserve on the Thursday evening and were spoiled with goodies and food before being taken to our luxury accommodation , which made us feel like royalty . We then headed to the pool deck , which overlooks the Selati River , and had beer followed by our first game drive and sundowners . It was on this drive that one of our game-viewing vehicles came across Jo . I was not in that vehicle , but the passengers who were definitely got their heart rates high enough to earn their Discovery points ,
The running group on day two
Guided tour of the reserve … on foot
Carla and Su-yen having a little race and were as white as ghosts from the fright . Me … I was particularly jealous that I had not seen the # JouMoer incident .
We headed back to camp and had a wonderful dinner . One of the great aspects of this run was that it was limited to eight people , therefore everyone gets to know each other , and wonderful friendships are formed . We had such lovely dinner and lunch conversations each day , all around a massive table in the middle of this wonderful setting .
We woke up in the morning and headed to the communal location around 6am for coffee and rusks , ahead of a 6:30 start of a ?? km run . The thrill of experiencing the wild bush on foot is indescribable , and so much fun . We ran as a group at all times , with guides on bikes and vehicles nearby – to prevent being eaten , obviously – which meant it was a relaxed pace with no pressure . Of course , every now and then we would get it into our heads that we should race a certain bit , just for fun , but overall it was relaxed .
There was one point on the first day where we decided to create a ‘ segment ,’ on a set of stairs leading up to a viewing point that made the Westcliff Stairs in Joburg look like child ’ s play . I set off like a bat out of hell , but my inferior uphill running skills meant that Su-yen and Hanno left me for dead , and I came in a disappointing third place , but the view at the top was breath-taking !
We repeated this routine for three days – wake up , coffee and rusks , run , lunch , game drive and dinner . The second day was the toughest . It was about 28km long and the temperature climbed past 30 degrees Celsius , but I was in heaven . That is , until Hanno threw me into the pool and I almost froze to death ! A nice relaxed 12.5km run on day three warmed me up again , thankfully .
If this sounds like something you would enjoy , I highly recommend you check out www . facebook . com / umoyaadventures for more of their unique trail running experiences .
Big Foot was here !
Unique weekend , happy runners
About the Author
While Carla ’ s ‘ day job ’ is Head Tennis Coach and Director of Tennis at Game Set Match Tennis in Johannesburg , her second love is trail running , which she tackles with an unquenchable thirst for adventure , a never-saydie attitude , and a healthy sense of humour about all the misadventures that befall her on the trails !
Images : Gareth Roberts Photography
42 ISSUE 143 JULY 2021 / www . modernathlete . co . za