Otter African Trail Run – 7 October 2021

Enjoy this Tale of Lisa running what is known as 'The Grail of Trail', on South Africa’s famous 5 day Otter Hiking Trail.

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Trail running has a way of luring one back for more. It’s just part and parcel of the sport and what it evokes and enables. After running my first marathon on this trail with Joseph in an easterly direction back in 2012, I said never again. That was the Retto (Otter spelt backwards). After the birth of Jethro late 2020 and some deep losses, I needed to rebuild and felt a goal may help to assist with the process. And so, I just made a suggestion to Joseph in February 2021 that maybe I should try run the Otter (in a westerly direction). This time without him by my side. I should not have been surprised that he said: “just go for it!” without any hesitation. Is what follows what they say is history? No, the privilege of traversing the Otter within a cut off of 11 hours will never fade…

                               The Otter uses a pre race day prologue run to determine the starting position of each competitor.   

                               Placing 33 out of 66 women competitors after the prologue, I started the Otter 165 out of 223.

The challenge of running 42 kilometres of pure single track trail, with 4 river crossings and 2500 metres of cumulative ascent was exciting and kept me motivated during the culmination of 10 months of training. I only managed to secure an entry in the last month prior to the race due to its popularity and not even sure the event would indeed happen due to the pandemic. The race itself was all I had desired and hoped it would be: beautiful, tough and an enjoyable day out on the trails in a remote area of pristine coastline. But the run meant so much more to me than just a race on race day.

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This race was a real family affair. I could not have achieved it without their love and support.

                               The Otter starts in batches of 4 runners every 30 seconds due to the technicality of the single track trail which makes passing difficult.

The meaning behind the race was really fulfilled in the training time. Trail running provides perspective and a time to reconsider myself, that the only control I really have is the next step on the trail of life and even that is simply out of my control. There were so many hours on the trail, alone. In nature. With God. Wrestling with Him about all that was deeply troubling me and asking questions I still don’t have answers to, but instead coming to a place of peace with the realisation that all I can say and believe is “Lord, I don’t understand, but I trust you”. The Otter was about the journey to the race, rather than the destination of the race.

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Trailblazer asking the question “What race are you running?” implies the race is so much more than the actual race and its finish line, but every part of the process leading up to it and after in processing the journey. And each of our personal purposes for our lives.

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246379085 4438246559590444 6260028609859505785 nOakhurst Huts and halfway Munchie-Point of the Otter at 20 kilometres at the mouth of the Lottering River.

From brief chats with other runners during the race, I realised everyone has a story that has brought them to the start line. Stories of overcoming injuries, stories of running for a cause beyond oneself and so much more. In the end, we are just a small part of a bigger story and narrative of God’s story and His redemptive plan for everything. Including my joy of running trails!

247042076 4438259292922504 1068054385913487262 nBloukrans River as it was for some. By the time I arrived, the tide had come in and I was waist deep in making my way across.

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                               Finishing in 8 hours 39 minutes and 41 seconds I placed 23rd out of 66 women competitors and 92nd out of a total of 223 finishers.

What story are you running?

                               Joseph ran the 11 km Dassie Trail Run a few days later.

Explorer: Ultra-Trail Cape Town 21 km – 28 Novembe...


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