Modern Athlete Magazine Issue 161 September 2023 | Page 60

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

So , it was a freezing cold Sunday morning as I made my way to the Guinea Fowl Gallop , a wonderfully organised fun trail race through the Walter Sisulu National Botanical Gardens , organised by my friends at ‘ My Road Less Travelled ’. The event offered a choice of distances , from 35km to 21km , 12km ( give or take a few kays ) and right down to a 5km . Obviously , I opted for the 35km , even though I had another commitment at 11:30 that morning , but with the race starting at 7am , that gave me four and a half hours to get back . Surely that was manageable , right ?

Bit of a Slow Start
Anyway , I filled up my hydration pack and set off , as happy as Larry at being back on the trails , but soon after the race started , I began to realise the error of my thinking . The Walter Sisulu Botanical Gardens are nothing like the gardens I have run in hundreds of times in Emmerentia , where the elevation gain never exceeds about five metres . No , not these gardens ! Within the first kay we hit an uphill … going up the side of a mountain … that went on for at least 4km . It was never-ending !
Looking at my watch , I soon realised that there was no way possible to finish this race within my time restraints , so I humbly notified the marshal that I was
After eating humble pie and downgrading , it was still a lekker day out


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

Humbled by a Hidden Hill

The Walter Sisulu National Botanical Gardens are just a 45-minute drive from my front door , so I was excited to hear that the gardens have some of the most amazing trails . What they didn ’ t tell me , though , was that these are not easy trails , and this led to my latest misadventure , involving my speed … or lack thereof .
cutting short and doing the 21km instead . Well , a few kilometres later , I looked at my watch again , and realised I was still not going to make it , so I cut short again , this time not so humbly wishing that I had never made any commitments on this particular day .
From that point I felt like the ‘ all the gear , but no idea ’ lady , wearing a full hydration bladder for a ‘ mere ’ 10km race . Yes , I got to enjoy a coffee afterwards , because now I actually had extra time , and it turned into a beautiful warm , still Sunday morning , but I really didn ’ t need to come quite so prepared to run a little 10km . ( PS : It was slightly over 10km , so I am rounding it up to 12km , because as you know , I always get lost !)
Eating Humble Pie
This trail had well and truly beaten me , because I totally underestimated how tough a little botanical garden run could be , but it was the most awesome morning out . Within the first kay we approached a beautiful waterfall ( that is where the hill of all hills starts ), and although the climb is steep and never-ending , it does lead to some breathtaking views . Actually , that is undoubtedly the reason that I get lost so often … All these great views make it easy to step onto the wrong path and follow a trail that has nothing to do with the race you are actually running .
Here are my race stats :
• Getting lost : +/ -4 times ( about normal , for me )
• Falling : 0 ( for the first time in history )
• Stumbling : 5 million and 7 ( also normal )
• Making friends : Lots ! ( very much normal )
• Difficulty : 8 / 10 ( skewed by the first few kays )
• Organisation : 10 / 10 ( these guys are pro ’ s )
• Fun factor : 10 / 10 ( my kind of race !)
In terms of the venue , I will definitely be back to conquer this trail . At first , I simply couldn ’ t believe we had such a
Good to be back on the trails , even if somewhat overdressed
steep , technical and beautiful trail right on our doorstep , and if you are a Gauteng-based trail runner , I highly recommend an outing to explore these trails . Give yourself at least a morning , but preferably the day .
Big Thank You !
The race organisers from My Road Less Travelled did a fantastic job . The race was full of vibes , ‘ gees ’ and fun , and I will definitely be doing more of their races in the future . Oh yes , before I forget , the trails were wellmarked , which may mean absolutely nothing to me , but for all of you out there , it means you will not get lost ! You can follow their page on Facebook for upcoming dates and venues of their races , and then join me for a trail adventure . Until then , happy trailing .
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 !
Images : Lee Felix Photography courtesy of My Road Less Travelled
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