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Run the Marloth Mountain Challenge like a pro

Prepare, train and run the Marloth Mountain Challenge like a pro! 2015 women’s winner, Katya Soggot, tells you how!

When last year’s Marloth Mountain Challenge Ultra Skymarathon® women’s winner, Katya Soggot, comments that “the full 55km is a monster; mentally and physically it was one of the toughest trail runs I’ve done,” you know you’re in for a big day out. Don’t be afraid though, instead harness the nervous energy and read through some of Katya’s top tips that will help you survive the day and finish with a smile on your face!

Always look on the bright side of life
No matter how tough the going gets, remind yourself of why you entered in the first place. Slow down and smell the roses and be sure to soak in the experience for what it is, as well as the quaint small town of Swellendam. “Arriving in the picturesque ‘weekend getaway’ town of Swellendam, at the foot of the immense, inviting Swellendam mountains, sets the stage and tone for a wonderful Wildrunner weekend,” says Soggot.
On top of the quintessential small town of Swellendam, the run itself is rich with beautiful views and challenging routes. “There is something special about running out from the town, straight up into the mountains, where the trails swiftly take you into the remote depths of the rugged mountain range.”

Prepare for a long time on your feet
The fastest that the 55km Ultra Skymarathon® has been completed is around seven hours, which means that unless you’re going for the win, you’re going to spend a long time on your feet. To prepare for this, Soggot suggests, “ensuring at least one experience of being on your feet for five-plus hours before the race.” This will ensure you are aware of how your body will react to that much time on your feet.
Soggot also suggests keeping a comfortable race to ensure you get to the end, even if it is slowly and steadily. Unpredictable weather may wreak havoc on the day, so trusting your gear and having the correct gear is imperative too.

Beware the third leg
The third leg bites. There are several steep sections, which can test one’s resilience, as your body goes into unfamiliar territory (unless you are accustomed to running on mountains for over seven hours),” says Soggot. To make sure you get through the third leg in one piece, Soggot reminds you to “maintain strength of mind and concentration, and remember to eat and drink regularly.”

Get the right gear
The MMC is in typical Wildrunner territory, which means anything could happen day and weather is largely unpredictable, so what gear do you need to take with? “In addition to the compulsory kit, I’d be sure to take sunglasses or a cap, even if it isn’t forecast to be sunny, and a pair gloves (even if just a pair of surgical gloves, which weigh nothing and are very effective), says Soggot. “I found that with many hours on my feet, my sensitivities were heightened, and certain kit helped maintain comfort and energy levels.” Lastly, if rain and cold are forecast, don’t underestimate the potential forces of nature. “Hands can quickly become numb, and you need fingers to be responsive and dexterous, so that you can regularly access and consume food, says Soggot, “So you need gloves that don’t make your fingers clumsy.”

Eat right
A critical part of your kit and something that can affect the outcome of the day is nutrition. “Fuelling for nine tough hours requires some thought (and ideally previous experimentation),” says Soggot, and knowing what you like and when you should eat it is fundamental to your success. “There is always a hearty breakfast before the race. For hydration, there are plenty of streams, and BOS and water at the aid stations,” says Soggot. She recommends ‘eating it forward’ as key to avoiding the ‘bonk’. During a run Soggot avoids too many sweet things, but does have tolerance for two boiled eggs, a load of sliced ostrich steak, a butter and marmite roll, two 32gi (energy) bars and five small potatoes (provided at the aid stations).

In a nutshell
Even if this is your first big event, you can rest assured that the crew, slick organisation and vibe of Wildrunner will take care of you. “I felt looked after by Wildrunner the whole way, with their reassuring route marking and enthusiastic welcome and assistance at the aid stations.

And when you’re done – head to Swellendam to explore! “After the race, relaxing in Swellendam, reflecting on the journey my legs had carried me through, and then gathering in the evening for the Wildrunner festivities, rounded off an amazing trail weekend getaway.”

For entries visit the Mountain Challenge website here

Article written by Bryony McCormick