Four Days, Four Seasons – Namaqua Quest TR

Written by: Mark Sampson

The 2014 Namaqua Quest trail run has come and gone, but will never be forgotten. Last year, snow added to the variety and excitement of the event, while this year everything but snow was experienced over the four days.

Covering 120 kilometres through the harsh – apparently dry – koppie-blemished landscape, it’s truly a unique race. It is, however, the timing of the race correlating with the incredible blossoming of the Namaqua daisies that is the ace up the sleeve, making it a must-do race for any hardened trail runner.

Day one began with a rather chilly wind as a cold front approached the coast and temperatures, although sunny, were chilly. Race organisers kept the stage to a relatively easy run through the Namaqualand vegetation of succulents and burly bushes interspersed with colourful daisies, prior to a number of ascents of the domed dolomite mountains. After the water point, runners made their way through the local golf course, now completely overrun with a rampant array of colourful daisies to end an enjoyable day.

Day two was the marathon day of the event, literally covering just over 40 km, with numerous climbs and dry river canyons. Coinciding with the cold front, rain fell in the early hours of the morning, leaving the air clean and crisp by midmorning, to further enhance the viewing pleasure of the runners. Even though it was cold and wet in the beginning, eventual-winner Bennie Roux commented that it was the most spectacular scenery he had experienced in his time as a trail runner.

Day three covered approximately 30 km through Goegap Nature Reserve and was the most enjoyable day, according to many of the finishers. Large plains of colourful daisies with game sightings including gemsbok, zebra, reebok, springbok and jackal, made up for the previous day’s distance and some very tired legs.

Heavy winds on the final day made for a chilly start directly into the wind. The upside though was the runners were blown home, with a final scramble down a steep, dolerite rock face towards the finish line.

After all was done and dusted, scratches and bruises mended and sore legs massaged, the winners were crowned. In the Single Men, Bennie Roux took top honours each day to win overall in a time of 10:02:43, beating his nearest chaser, Dirk Cloete, by 31 minutes. Katya Soggot notched up yet another win in a time of 11:46:06, just over half-an-hour ahead of her nearest chaser, Marcelle Coetzee. Congratulations to all this year’s finishers.

You would have to search far and wide to find a trail run like this in such stark and contrasting terrain and ever-changing conditions.

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