Roelof Mostert's Account of the George Mountain Ultra, 2019

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Running in the Mountains

ROELOF MOSTERT’S ACCOUNT OF THE GEORGE MOUNTAIN ULTRA, 2019

GMUT 2019 Race report:

05:00 AM, Witfontein Nature reserve, George.

The George mountain ultra is a beast unlike any other, a truly unique event with two distinct personalities. A game of give and take, where the comforting hustle and bustle of the impressive race village instills a sense of calm, giving you an almost warped-like peace of mind however, once unleashed into the darkness the course slowly sucks you in, incrementally chipping away at the body and mind until there is eventually nothing left, it's just you and and your natural environment with a primal-like grit the only thing propelling you towards the finish.

"You are practically working from when the gun goes" said a friend of mine and seasoned ultra athlete Eduan Adams, who also competed in the 60km. In hindsight I should've probably put more time into my cardio leading up to the race as the first portion of the course busts the lungs wide open with a monumental climb and twilight over the Outeniqua mountains literally leaving you absolutely breathless.

 

 
Roelof chasing Brendon down during a mountainous section of the GMUT.

Roelof chasing Brendon down during a mountainous section of the GMUT.

 

My race was a dogfight, Brendan Lombard put on an absolute masterclass even pulling it back after going off course about 3km in. The plan was to run my own race without any distractions but I soon found myself in full hunt mode as myself and Brendan flew down into the icy valley of Herold, a mere 3 minutes apart. We where practically inseparable at 35km ascending the infamous Dizzy-hights in complete silence, hurting, working, a towering monolith know as Cradock peak the foreman, rising up to the right of us commanding the utmost respect, egos now obliterated. Yes! The Tierkop ridge, time to put the hammer down, the lines between first and second place now blurry as we open up down the long technical single track, trading continuously, with the baners marking the second last aid station in the distance a sight for sore eyes. We took our time refueling, even listening intently at Andre "Aussie" Oosthuisen as he pionted towards Tonnelbos explaining enthusiastically how the course had changed once you reach the dam. "I need to get the fuck out of here" I think to myself as I hastily shove my water bottles into my vest and as we continued on side by side I try and fish for possible kinks in my opponents armour by means of small talk but his stoicism remained concrete, our comforting banter abruptly dissipating with the chilling realization that we'd gone off course. From that moment on all camaraderie went out the window and the game of cat and mouse was back in full swing, cursing myself for not sticking to the plan I push hard back up the jeep track reaching the deviation first, the 1km sprint sending my Vo2 max into the stratosphere.

 
Roelof tackling some technical single track during the GMUT

Roelof tackling some technical single track during the GMUT

 

Having the upper hand on the descents was comforting but as soon as we crossed the dam wall our shadows grew further and further apart, climbing out towards Tonnelbos my confidence turned to despair as I watched my chances of winning slowly vanishing as Brendan opened up eventually disappearing completely. Recess was over, and school now very much in session. Some of the new course additions include a series of profoundly intricate, technical descents and two short but intimidating climbs woven together by the mad scientist himself, Jacques Mouton - route director. At 55km the Sungazer and Henry's Hill will magnify any and all mechanical breakdown making you work to the bitter end and the concept of pure endurance vivid in all it's uncomfortable splendor.

I'm incredibly happy with how things unfolded on the day, racing someone that hard for that long was a first for me and the lessons learned invaluable. In the end I managed second, finishing about 5 minutes behind Lombard who put up a sensational fight.

Take a bow sir!!! See y'all next year!

Robert Henning