The muted sound of early evening Johannesburg traffic in the background is the only sound, apart from my own heavy breathing and the footfall of my feet as they make their way around the dusty paths of Emmarentia Dam. It is dark in the park and somehow even with the street and car lights passing by behind the palisade fence, there is a surreal rather magical atmosphere. Up ahead the faster runners are making their way through the tree lined ridge and their individual headlamps blinking through the foliage bring back memories of fireflies on a summers evening. Following behind them, dipping down to the dam water’s edge, where somehow your senses are more alert in the darkness, you can smell the freshness of damp undergrowth and the temperature drops significantly. It is almost impossible to imagine that you are in the middle of one of the biggest, busiest cities in South Africa.
After being a road runner for the best part of 30 years, this is my first foray into trail running and what a wonderful experience it turned out to be. To take the road less travelled, and instead of having to dodge cars, taxis and trucks, you become one with nature. There are other hazards and you need to be quite sure footed, especially at night when your slowly dimming headlamp fails to pick out a hidden gnarly tree root. I found my running style change to fit in with the hazards and often uneven gradient and was very grateful for my newly purchased trail running shoes.
Trail running has to be one of the fastest growing sports, with more and more people looking for new challenges. Dave Funnell, a passionate and seasoned trail runner, felt he needed to give back a little something to a sport that had given him so much, and has invited people to join him in the sport he loves every Tuesday evening at 17:45, for an informal run with nature. Two distances are on offer +- 5km and 8km, with a team leader for both groups. The runners stay together in groups which cater for all levels of runners. There is no cost involved but a request for a R 10 donation towards the refreshments provided at the finish, which is at The Craft Beer Library in Roosevelt Park, where an ice cold beer and delicious meals are on offer.
This week I will be buying new batteries for my headlamp (a must have to avoid those pesky tree roots) and will be lining up once again on a Tuesday evening for my next trail run – I am hooked.
Photo courtesy – http://www.runcoedybrenin.com