Warming-up Ladismith-style, 2010

The Stanley’s Light Mountain Run 2011 took place in Ladismith on Saturday, 29 May 2011. The Comrades has it’s “up” and it’s “down” runs — the Stanley’s Light Mountain Run has it’s “on” and it’s “off” runs: this year was an “on” year!

Now in its second year, this run takes you up the Klein Swartberg behind Ladismith to where Oom Stanley built a dynamo-powered light. The light is built in a kloof, and is powered by the water flowing down off the mountain. This water is basically the town’s water supply, so if the light is on, they know there is plenty water on the way down to them!

I left Cape Town at some unmentionable hour on Saturday morning (after fighting my way through the drunk kids at the Claremont Engen), driving the 330km to arrive in Ladismith just before 7AM as dawn crept into the cold Karoo night sky. Seeing Stanley’s Light burning high on the mountain behind the sleeping town for the first time was fairly intimidating as the pin-prick of light high up the dark mass of the mountain gave a good measure of the challenge for the day!

Plenty of familiar faces were gathered around the fire at the start as we waited for Ugene’s trademark race briefing. He did not disappoint: we were all certainly going die slippery deaths on the mountain! Jokes aside: I think we all respect Ugene’s experience and knowledge, and appreciate his passion for the outdoors, and his dedication to seeing to it that others get to experience in a totally safe and enjoyable manner. Much respect, Ugene!

It was certainly a good few degrees warmer than last year as we set off along the road behind the school sport’s grounds toward the mountain slopes. The first few kilometers is on fairly level dirt roads, and we set out at a brisk pace. Then it was onto a few kilometers of easy single track before the climbing started with a series of switch-backs up the foothills.

The main climb comes as you enter the kloof in which Stanley’s Light is found. Ugene had gone to great trouble to mark of this section, and to provide ropes for some of the steepest parts. From here it eased off a bit as we traversed across the mountain before the big descent.

After the big descent, you head on down to the road before heading back up onto some low hills. Beautiful, runnable single-track, snakes along these hills until you reach town again, where a gentle descent brings you back to the sports fields.

I came 13th in a time of 3:11:05. The race was won for the second time by Dom Wills in 2:36:40. I finished in 4th position last year in a slightly quicker 3:09:59.

By David

Outdoor adventure enthusiast living on the Garden Route.

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