Long Tom


Wow , what a “race” this is! Firstly, a big well done to Barene (4th), Sylvia ( 5th) and Izelle (7th) in the ladies for their great performances at Long Tom – all gold medals.

In my opinion , this is one of the hardest Ultra’s in SA and I would go so far as to say – harder than comrades – just 33km shorter! However, it must rate as one of the best training runs you could ever do if you are training for comrades!  The scenery is magnificent and at times you can see specks which were the top of the gazebo’s or portable toilets at the water points , way in the distance at the top of the mountains where we were headed –( you can’t see runners …)….

The first thing Izelle and I noticed on arriving at the town of Sabie the evening before or rather what we didn’t notice is there are no signs that a race was even taking place – even going to the school where the start is (to collect our race numbers ) was quiet and nothing going on…….. after calling the race organisers I discovered you could only collect race numbers at Lydenburg (the finish- 60km away!)or at the start the following morning . They did say they were on their way to Sabie to set up for the start …… (that would have been after 7.30pm) …

The following morning 6 extra- long buses arrived with runners who had left their cars at the finish in Lydenburg. A number of buses left Sabie just after 5.30 to take those doing the 21km to the start (21km outside of Lydenburg at the highest point of the route). Even the start was laid back, relaxed and calm. Not sure how many running – would have guessed about 1000 odd.

Describing this route. The website does it justice – so here are some extracts that describe parts of this route:-

The Xstrata Longtom Ultra Marathon is the “Everest” of ultra marathons in South Africa and is arguably the most difficult race of this distance on the race calendar.

Leaving Sabie, you begin the climb from a height of 1000 m above sea level. You will then follow the panoramic Longtom Pass until you reach the highest point at Mauchsberg at 2150 m above sea level. (We started on a hill – luckily a short one of about 400m –and then it flattens out for about another 500m). After that a steep climb of 435 m over 10 km through pine and blue gum trees .Here you will find a view that must undoubtedly resemble heaven (when we meet there we can discuss  J) . The entire valley a vast ocean of mist with only the mountain peaks and tree tops emerging from the sea of mist.

After the first 17 kms the route flattens out for a BRIEF while, but it soon leans steadily uphill through Koffiehoogte, a section lined with huge eucalyptus trees….

From here the route carries on up to Devil’s Knuckles .At this point, some 21 km out of Sabie, and having climbed about 684 m , your legs will begin to feel the strain. Here stands the replica of the famous Longtom cannon. Don’t believe for a moment that the climbing is over once you have reached this point. There is more to come. The climbing does not end until the 37 km mark and is steep most of the way, so pause a while at the cannon and reflect on the task ahead.
You have now covered 24 km and have reached an altitude of 1661 m with a spectacular panoramic view of the valleys, waterfalls and plantations. Beware not to race the short moderate downhill through Misty Mountains as the hardest section is yet to come.

From the foot of what has become known as The Staircase, the most gruelling climb of them all begins – it is here that the real dogs are separated from the puppies (Ok – where Izelle left me in the dust J !) . The course will flatten out a bit towards Whisky Spruit, but your energy will be drained by the time you undertake the last section of the climb to Mauchsberg at 2150 m above sea level, the highest point on the mountain – often the final straw for runners! From here the route passes through Masjiennek before a sharp descent takes you along the boundaries of the Gustav Klingbiel Nature Reserve.

From Mauchsberg the road winds down through beautiful Lowveld terrain to Lydenburg, which you can see in the distance,(with one nasty sneaky hill between 13 and 12 km to go!). At an altitude of 1 379 m above sea level, the run to the finish is quite a steep downhill at times and can hurt a tired body.

Relief will begin to set in as you run the last 3 km through the streets of Lydenburg (Ok for me at this point it wasn’t relief ….it was holding on to survive to the end- but everyone to his own opinion !) , ….to the finish of one of South Africa ‘s toughest races.

All in all a good solid beautiful training run …… not one to aim for your PB! 

Keep up the training.

Terry

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4 Responses

  1. Just managed to scrap the last gold medal Iano!

  2. Thanks to all of you – Long Tom was a great experience and i owe many thanks to all of you!! The Bombers are the best!!
    Good luck to all of you in the weeks to come and remember to enjoy every moment!

  3. Well done all of you. You did incredibly well for such a tough race… disappointed I didnt put in the effort – but it sounds like it may have just wiped me out!
    You ladies are all an inspiration…

  4. Well done ladies, what an awesome achievement. This considering too that they all ran Om Die Dam the weekend before.

    How did you go, Terry?

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