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200 IS THE NEW 100! AND I'M TALKING ABOUT MILES...

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By Marius van Rensburg (Mac Mac Ultra 200miler 1st place - 86 hours)

The second annual Mac Mac Ultra 200mile footrace kicked off with a bang when race director, Eloff Hoffman fired a 50-caliber black powder “ou voorlaaier” gun at 2pm on Wednesday, 18 May 2022 in the beautiful Merry Pebbles Resort in Sabie, Mpumalanga, South Africa.

That’s 320kms of the most beautiful but brutal terrain that runners can endure, paired with a mammoth 15 000m of elevation gain. In the early hours of Sunday morning, almost 86 hours later, I would return to Merry Pebbles in 1st place, a changed man.

It was great fun to run with Nicky Booyens and Niel Stander for large sections of the first 160kms of the race. After a 20-minute nap at halfway, I pressed on, finding a view of a sleepy Pilgrims rest. On day 3, I experienced one of the most spectacular sunrises I have ever seen.

During the second half of the race, the 100mile leaders, Grobler and Leon came past me in quick succession. After a welcoming 2-minute chat, they disappeared into the dark as quickly as they had emerged. The comradery during these shared misery experiences always amazes me; for the remainder of the race, every 100-mile runner passing me would give a kind word of motivation, a “keep on going, you are doing great” even though I’m pretty sure I didn’t look all that great. And I am saying “shared misery experiences”, but I had the time of my life out there and can’t wait for the next one.

The sleep monsters finally came for me after 80hrs of running, with only 1 hour of sleep. These “monsters” were hallucinated kittens, and no, not the Pet Cemetery type. They were fluffy and playful, but, since I’ve watched a few too many Stephen King movies, I kept my distance, and kept my trekking poles (yes, both!) between myself and them. You know, just in case… 

My support team (Jacques Nel, Chantelle Nel, Belinda Lubbe and Rheinhardt Schulze) kept me moving forward; restocking my Hammer Nutrition, giving a quick pep talk and then kicking me out of the aid station while I was still busy squirreling - a fond word my support teams have coined over the years of “me getting distracted and chatting to everyone” at the aid stations… But with these amazing volunteers at the aid stations, who could blame me! Warm smiles, high fives and tables that would put a Christmas buffet to shame. Eloff, Frikkie, Jaco, Maretha, Sheena, Sian, Hazel and the rest of the team - you know how to host a spectacular event! Without you it would have just been an empty trail.