There is something special about away races. The travel, the buildup of excitement as you pass through different areas, seeing our country change as you head from home to destination X. Now throw in 7 other individuals and you will get Team MountCo’s trip to Cape St Francis to run the beautiful Chokka Trail Run. Most of us had never been there before and didn’t quite know what to expect and there is definitely something that bonds people when faced with the unknown. It must be the nervous energy. But first, before we could run, we needed to work. MountCo had the opportunity to host a pop-up store at registration. It was great getting to meet new runners, chat to people about their running goals and introducing them to what MountCo has to offer. SOX seemed a pretty popular choice, as well as extra nutrition and a few hats as yes, race day was looking to be beautiful weather. Registration ended and it was time for us to go for a leg loosener… well the guys did. They took off for a 6km run around the little town lead by Jacques and Craig being the only two who had been in the area before. Clare and I however opted to enjoy the magical sunset with a stroll on the beach. We were then treated to a delicious dinner only a short walk from our accommodation in the race village. Finally, it was time to ready for race day.

Chokka Trail Run has a variety of distances available – 60km, 42km, 23km, and a 10km. Craig was off first on the 60km. Then it was time to see Jacques off on the 42km and myself, Michael, Jemaine and Daniel tackled the 23km and Clare and Travis took on the 10km.

We were spoilt with a beautiful sunrise on the beach but that also meant about 5km of beach running. However, the views were worth the sand in your shoes. We then ran through the Marina for something different before heading through an airfield (watch out for planes!) and into a head wind. That wind lasted for 6 long kilometers. At the 9km mark this is where the 42km and 60km split from our route and head off into the sand dunes. I did not envy them. As beautiful as it sounded it is also the most brutal part of the race. Those sand dunes eat your calves for dinner. Lucky for Team MountCo, their calves are made from steel. Heading back on route at 12km we could say goodbye wind and welcomed heading back to the coastline and this is where we spoilt rotten. Whales, pods and pods of whales having as much fun as we were. That made running a little tougher. Where do you look? The whales or the ground? Thankfully, our next water table wasn’t too far off, and you could enjoy a snack with a view. And then it was the final stretch to the lighthouse and 2kms home.

Travis came in fourth on the 10km with all of the top 4 guys breaking the record. Jemaine ran an excellent 3rd place on the 23km. Jacques also came in 3rd in the 42km and Craig took a well-deserved 2nd in the 62km.

Overall, we learnt a lot, had many successes and ultimately built a stronger bond between us all.

A big shout out to Chokka for welcoming us with open arms and we will see you again in 2024!

-Emma Rorke (Team MountCo In-House Photographer)

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