Getting fit for the Wildcoast Wildrun®

The Wildcoast Wildrun® (WCWR) starts at Kei Mouth in the Eastern Cape and finishes three days and 112km later at the majestic Hole-in-the-Wall. Runners take on a mix of compact beach running, undulating coastal cattle trails and grassy headlands over the three days. Sprinkle that with unpredictable weather, navigational challenges, blisters, high tides and river crossings – and you’ve got a proper adventure! Being mentally and physically prepared will ensure you get from start to finish and wake up ready to go each day. Four WCWR finishers offer tips and advice based on their experiences in the Transkei.

Long runs go a long way

The three days are broken down into 44.2km, 35.2km and 34km respectively. That doesn’t mean you need to hurry out and run 112km in one session just to prove you can, but it does mean you should be incorporating longer runs into your training to get your body, muscles and mind ready for the distances. “You definitely need some mileage to prepare you for three days of running,” says Sandra du Toit, WCWR finisher. Everyone is different and will handle the mileage come September a little differently, but having a few long runs under the belt will do you well, and also help prepare your body for the punishment. “Everyone is different, so it's difficult to suggest one-size-fits all training programme, but I do suggest that you become used to running on tired legs,” says eight time WCWR finisher, Angelo Henry. With eight under his belt it’s hard to ignore his advice!

Run, rest, repeat

Jeremy and Tasha Botha have entered their fifth WCWR this year, and aside from doing long runs, they recommend trying them on consecutive days. “It’s probably good to do a few longer runs, around 20km, on consecutive days.” By running on consecutive days during your training, you’ll get an idea of how your body handles the repetitive punishment and how you can better prepare. “2011 was our first WCWR and the starts on days two and three were the toughest. This was because day one is the longest and hardest day, and our bodies were tired when we woke up on day two.” It’ll also give you a good idea of how your feet handle, in terms of blisters and hot spots, which is one of the most common reasons people pull out of stage races.

Strengthen up to go up

The Transkei coastline is comprised of green, grassy headlands, undulating hills and rocky cliffs with a scattering of long, untouched beaches in between. While you might not be summiting any major mountains, you will almost always be going up or down. Sounds easy enough right? Don’t be fooled – 112km of this type of terrain will wear your legs down. Sandra du Toit suggests including some strength exercises into your training to prepare for the up and downs. “I found that I needed to do more strength work to prepare me to get up the hills, to ensure I had a good race,” she said. Try the exercises in this article to strengthen your legs muscles. 

Don’t dismiss the value of tar

When it comes to training for WCWR you might find yourself far from accessible trails, or short of time to get to them or simply in a city that doesn’t have any. Don’t dismiss the value of training on road! “Some people did road ultras as training this year,” said Jeremy and Tasha Botha. “If you fall into this category, not too much needs to change in preparation for the WCWR.” Of course you need to fit in a few trail runs and strength training if you’re going down this road, or you will find the muscles you need for the beach and trails won’t strong enough or firing!

“For road runners who have never run with a hydration pack it's important to do some training runs wearing it.” - The Botha's

A good attitude means a good run

Being physically fit isn’t the only thing that’ll get you over the finish line of the WCWR, having the right attitude helps too. So before you jump in the car for the race, get your head around what type of experience you want to have.  “I don’t worry about time or who I finish with. I am there to enjoy the run. If that means that I go a bit slower, but have more fun, so be it. I think you miss the point of WCWR Journey if you don’t ever stop to take photographs and soak in the surroundings,” says Sandra du Toit, and she couldn’t be more spot on. Of course it’s great to run a PB and do you best, but try to balance that with absorbing the beautiful, unspoiled stretch of coastline the WCWR covers. “It's not a race for most and only a few care about  time, so go out there and enjoy the beautiful scenery with no sound or sight of a car, meet people, have a laugh, enjoy the swims and the sand,” recommend Jeremy and Tasha Botha.

There you have it, several insider tips on getting mentally and physically prepared for the WCWR in September. If you haven’t entered yet, head over to the Wildrun® website and do so! This really is an achievable trail goal and something to add to your bucket list.

Article written by Bryony Mc Cormick

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