Modern Athlete Magazine Issue 160 August 2023 | Page 49

( MIS ) ADVENTURES trail ( mis ) adventures by CARLA LEA FARINA


( MIS ) ADVENTURES trail ( mis ) adventures by CARLA LEA FARINA

Survival Hacks

Want to know what the best part of lacing up my Hoka Speedgoats is ? It ’ s simple , really : It means an adventure is bound to happen – or in my case , usually a misadventure , so I ’ ve learnt a few valuable lessons through the years of ultra trail running .
Images : Courtesy Carla Farina

After once again hanging up my road running shoes after Comrades 2023 – OK , not for good , just for anything longer than 21km – I have committed to many exciting trails in the near future , including the Salt Pans Ultra , Tankwa Crossing , Addo 100 Miler , MAC MAC 100 Miler , Three Cranes ( for the sixth time ) and many more .

I love running in general , but it is the ultra trails that have won my heart over . I feel like a warrior going into battle when I tackle them , complete with ‘ battle scars ’ and ‘ war stories ,’ but I also know I must be prepared for what lies ahead . So , as I get ready to head back to the trails , I ’ d like to share some ‘ life hacks ’ to either avoid , or get through , the misadventures that you may experience out on the trails .
Ready for emergencies …
First and most importantly , pack the space blanket . You may think you will never need it , or ever use it , but I promise you , it ’ s better to have one and not need it , than find yourself looking for one , as I found out at Pondo a few years back , when I found myself in a bit of a predicament …
Never leave home without your space blanket !
Keep ‘ em on …
Secondly , in an ultra trail , take off your shoes as few times as possible . I find that blisters are highly sensitive little ( swear word removed ) so-and-so ’ s , and taking my shoes off at the Karkloof 100 sent them into a rage of fury . There are photos to prove it !
Mind the markers …
Third on the list , because I am the world ’ s leading living expert on getting lost , is to take note of route markers . If you get lost , and it ’ s dark , and you have no signal , do not under any circumstances climb up hills that don ’ t have paths in order to find signal , or to get a better view . You will just get even more lost , and may not be able to get down again . Rather head back towards the last marker you saw . Yes , I know that wastes racing time , but it usually takes far less time than bundubashing up and down the sides of mountains , and risking injury or death ! Also , on your way back to that marker , you might find fellow travellers that have gone astray and you may end up with a friend for life .
Refuel correctly …
Next up on the list , and also rather important , is to pace yourself at the aid stations . Yes , they offer delicious spreads , especially during the longer trail runs , but please practise just the vaguest ounce of self-control , because stuffing your face with sweeties at an aid station is a bad idea . I speak from experience , after I found the most delicious chocolate shortbread at the Addo 50 Miler , and spent the next 30 minutes alternating between vomiting and a different ‘ form ’ of running . OK , that may be too much information , but sometimes its necessary to use graphic scare tactics to make the point !
Seeing things ...
Hallucinations will happen once you have arrived at the point of true misadventure , so my ‘ expert advice ’ is to drink and eat a bit more than usual , as it will keep the hallucinations at bay . Remember your surroundings , because hallucinations often take the form of animals . So , if you are in the middle of Addo ,
Stock up on nutrition , but don ’ t overdo it at the aid stations !
Sometimes Hallucinations of animals are actually the real thing
it could actually be a wild animal , but sometimes it is just a hallucination … The point is , don ’ t always assume it ’ s a hallucination , be on your guard , and try to find a compos mentis friend to stick with .
FOMO vs common sense …
When you are entering a race and your body and mind are able , enter the longest distance , but be sure you ’ re not just succumbing to FOMO ( fear of missing out ). The FOMO I felt during the Addo 50 Miler when the 100 Miler runners came past was intense , and I know that the camaraderie and ‘ gees ’ of the longer distances is half the fun of running ultra trail runs , but rather have a bit of FOMO than find yourself in a terrible misadventure on the trails .
So before heading on your next ultra trail please take note of these basic survival hacks , because should you find yourself in any misadventure situations , I reckon you ’ ll be glad you did . Right , see you at Salt Pans and the other races I ’ ve signed up for !
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-say-die attitude , and a healthy sense of humour about all the misadventures that befall her on the trails !