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Merrell Whale of Trail 2022

I woke up to an alarm 30 minutes earlier than planned and found myself dancing in the kitchen as I swirled in my socks with a packet of oats in one hand and a pot in the other. I was speaking a language of emotions; still living on a “Whale” high and dying to find the time to share my thoughts on paper. Now would be the perfect opportunity.

“Whale of Trail” was one of those Covid races I trained for, peaked and didn't make it to the start line… three times nogal! “Sho…” I sniggered. What a journey it has been. I am sure that this was true for many other participants. Each time I trained I had a new goal and expectation and the fourth and final time would be named a highlight race.

As I placed myself towards the front of the start line I reminded myself that 2022 has already been a wild ride. This left “Whale” at the bottom of my priority list but it certainly kept me moving forward. It was a chilly morning and I jumped up and down to warm my limbs up and calm my nerves down. It was cloudy and dark but the light within me shone brightly. It was flipping epic to be here, finally. I knew it would be a good day… I just knew it!

We started with an ascent up the Potberg. It was technical, windy and humbling, the birds tweeting and shaking the morning dew off their feathers. My feet rocked and rolled over the terrain as the panting deepened and quickened. The breath created a rhythm and set the tempo. The sunrise began to pierce through the tops of the yellow fynbos which glistened from the reflection of the light. The mountains proudly dressed in evergreens right up to their crowns of gold-yellow. As we continued to make our way through the bold, silhouette giant I felt myself feeling small: my favourite big feeling of small. The crisp coastal air chilled. My inner being was vibrating with joy that every step felt equally new and exhilarating. I was grateful. The more I climbed the more I was eager to learn and be taken on trusting a new path. It was in the surrender that more and more joy overflowed out of me. Like life, our path can excite emotions, each step is an adventure of the unknown, if only I always felt this way. After a thrilling climb, the vultures began circling our heads. These predators led us to a new world, a high plateau of beauty - the Breeder River and then along a ridgeline and then down towards the coastline. The land was no longer greeting the sky as we curved gently and made our way. In the arms of stronger, coastal oxygen, there was a greater sense of flow and ease.

It was this path that led us to smell the salt and hear the roaring and rumbling waves crash against the rocky outcrops long before we could visualize the sight. There was magic in the air to experiencing the majestic ocean. Shades of blues filled our vision on the left and golden greens and yellows to the right. The path changed terrain and had a way of greeting the soles - this time more solid and reassuring. Mother nature egging us on until finally, the soft and sludgy beach sand boldly introduced itself. As we flirted with the sea in hopes of not getting soaking shoes, the water washed away the imprint of stepping. All that was left was the memory. Perhaps more exciting at first, but as time passes the sand became more unforgiving and our legs worked harder to lift and step forward. I wasn't there to 'suffer' or push myself more than I needed to, but “Whale” took care of that for me. The wind had become the orchestral conductor of the sea, sending waves into their crescendos' all through the ballad that was the day. The clouds got dark and heavy and soon exploded open. My perfume changed from sweat and soil to salty water. The rain washed away further evidence of journeying. Finally, the wind eased and the rain paused. Layers back off and then layers back on and then back off once more. The beach went on and on and on. My concentration shifted and my mind had to work a little harder at staying motivated.

The path along the coastline could have been woven for thousands of years, perhaps in a place where time is truly forever, a place of eternal serenity but our end was evitable. The “Whale” beauty is there for anyone who loves adventure and has a chance to follow the rising sun.



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