Seamus Allardice shares with us the final day of the Leopard Trail Run, as well as some feedback on the gear which got him through the grueling 67km trail run.
Read Part 1 Here
Photo Credit: Craig Giese and Seamus Allardice
Day 3 | 24km of Mellow and Mountain Running
The final day dawned with stormy skies rather than the predicted sunny weather we had expected. The threat of rain didn’t dampen our spirits however; the temperature was still warmer than it had been for the previous two days, so if we got wet it wouldn’t be too bad.
On Day 1 we had struck out in an East, South-Easterly direction so for Day 3 we went the opposite way. The day started, as it only could given our location in a valley, with a climb. Like all the ascents of the Leopard Trail it was steep and technical, forcing everyone into a power hike rather than a run.
At the top of the climb the mountain opened out to reveal a broad, fertile, mountain meadow. It had once been cultivated before Eastern Cape Parks took over the land. This meadow provided the easiest running terrain of the weekend and even I was trotting along at six minutes a kilometre as the plateau gradually sloped downhill.
Along with a small herd of wild horses and a noisy bray of equally wild donkeys the excitement was provided by Gabriel’s Pools. Named after a local farmer, Gabriel Jakobus Petrus van Jaarsveld, who farmed the mountain meadow until his death in 1926, the pools would have provided the perfect spot to cool off had the day not been overcast.
After the detour to Gabriel’s Pools and a brief stop at the stage’s water point we started to climb once more. Here the smooth clay trails of the meadow gave way to rocky sand stone tracks as we worked our way upwards through an increasingly narrow kloof. A second detour presented the chance to scramble further up the kloof and take in the Cedar View – a lookout which gazes through the end of the kloof, over a forest of Baviaanskloof Cedars, towards the high mountains beyond.
Backtracking out of the Cedar View kloof and regaining the route home we looped back to Cedar Falls on a ridge parallel to the meadow we had run down earlier in the day. From time-to-time through a break in the mountains or from a high point we could see the more forgiving terrain far below. But the views were once again more than suffice to keep everyone motivated and moving forward, eager to see what lay beyond the next bend in the trail.
More crystal clear mountain pools, rich red rock cliffs and unspoilt vegetation – particularly succulents growing precariously from crevices in the cliffs – provided welcome distractions. Then, almost unexpectedly I found myself stepping from trail to jeep track. The region is so remote and the landscape so unforgiving that the presence of a jeep track could only mean we were approaching the end of our run.
At Cedar Falls a refreshing swim was followed by a hearty lunch of rooster brood. Which as any mountain biker who has ridden the Trans Baviaans mountain bike race knows is synonymous with the area. Then it was time to pack up and leave the blissful isolation of the Baviaanskloof with plans already formulating as to how I could get back there again before the inaugural Leopard Run in October next year…
About the Leopard Run
Projected Dates: October 2019
Day 1: 10km with 440m of climbing
Day 2: 34km with 1 200m of climbing
Day 3: 24km with 700m of climbing
Facebook: Leopard Trail Run
First Ascent Trail Running Gear
Hush Minimalist Pack
R899 | Shop Online
Comfortable and snug fitting, thanks to two adjustable chest straps and finely tuneable shoulder straps, the Hush Minimalist Pack is trail running vest-style pack. It features a mesh pouch, with an elasticated toggle, on each shoulder strap – which is perfect for storing First Ascent’s 300ml Soft Bottles. In the main body of the pack, which sits high up on your back, it features a small zippered pouch for valuables, and a larger mesh pouch for food and emergency gear – like the First Ascent X-Trail Jacket. Plus of course the slot for a hydration reservoir of up to two litres in capacity, which takes the Hush Pack’s fluid carrying capacity up to 2.6 litres – more than sufficient for even the longest stretches between water points.
X-Trail 7” Shorts
R699 | Shop Online
First Ascent’s men’s X-Trail shorts come in 5” and 7” lengths. The 5” versions feature a brief style inner liner, while the 7” versions boast full 7” inner tights. The 5” X-Trail shorts are comfortable and provide ease of movement but the 7” X-Trail shorts are without a doubt the most comfortable shorts we’ve ever ran in. The long inner eliminates chafe by moving with your body while the external shell of the shorts slides friction free over the inners while you run. For long days in the mountain they are highly recommended.
R559 | Shop Online
Highly breathable the First Ascent X-Trail Tee is the garment you need in your wardrobe for a long, hot, day on the trails. The form fit cut eliminates excess material to flap about and cause chafing while the simple dark colours are elegantly stylist.
X-Trail Edge Visor
R279 | Shop Online
Given Seamus’s recently shaven head the X-Trail Edge Visor was the one item he didn’t put to the test during the Leopard Run recce. He chose instead to run the long mountain day in the wide brimmed First Ascent Dundee Hat. The Edge Visor it must be said though is light and with a fold line down the centre of the peak it is designed to stow away inside a pack should you start the run without a hat but need one later in the day.
R549 | Shop Online
Though not as good at keeping you cool as the X-Trail Tee the Fusion Tee is made from a silky smooth fabric which is exceptionally comfortable. When wearing a hydration pack over it, with a heart rate monitor strap under the tee, it proved comfort throughout a long six hour day on the trails. What more can you ask for from a tee? Along with the X-Trail 7” Shorts, these were our top picks from the Leopard Run gear test.
Soft Bottle 300ml
R159 | Shop Online
These BPA free Soft Bottles are a must have for any sportsman or woman. They are not just great for trail runners; we’ll definitely be using them rather than standard hard plastic extra bottles on bike rides, when it’s necessary to put an extra bottle in your back pocket. On the trail they are easy to drink from when stored in the Hush Pack’s front pouches and easy to pull out and refill at water points.