Seconding 13 Peaks and An Overnight Challenge…

So my lads did a thing and it was great. Earlier this year we did the 13 Peak Multi-day Challenge together as a family, and ever since then my guys have been out on weekends taking friends, showing them the route and basically embracing all that is 13 Peaks.

Little did they know that an amazing opportunity would arise and they would get to go and run with a fellow Balega Impi… the full 13 Peaks in 32 Hours. Meet Dawn Nunes, a Balega Impi from Natal, who trained and dreamed and flew down to Cape Town to run this trail.

Five of them ran together… the goal to complete the challenge, to learn… and have a load of fun.
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Let’s Talk About Their Run…


Their run began with the Noon Day Gun… and they planned to run straight through, to see what they could do…
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It was a glorious day… cool, but not cold, a light breeze and a typical Autumn day in Cape Town.
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Over the top of Table Mountain, tagging mountain peaks on their way… and racing on through the night.
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Full moon and running over the mountains in the night… just unbelievable…

While they were heading towards Muizenberg Peak the wind picked up and they came off the mountain cold and tired… but still cheerful and they pushed on…
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They were thrilled to have friends join them along the way.
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Up and over Constantiaberg and our last meet up before their final push over Devil’s Peak… in the a wild and misty rain. When the weather turned so grim we sent some troops up the mountain to meet them with hot chocolate… because sometimes needs must!!!
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There was a terrific sunset that they missed up in the mist…

And we had a terrific group of folk waiting in the dark for them on Tafelberg Road…
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And on a cold and extremely wintry night… they found their legs as soon as they hit the road… and literally raced to the finish.

Proud mum… I think so!!!
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You can watch the full video here

10 Tips for Seconding a Team through 13 Peaks

This was my first time at seconding anything like this… a bunch of last minute nerves and all the what ifs… basically the runners have to run and the seconds have to think things through. Gotta say: I learned a lot. Seconding an event is very very different to partaking in an event. I had to encourage and watch as my kids discovered running through sleep deprivation. What started off as glorious weather turned into a true Cape of Storms by the time they hit Devil’s Peak. I have to say getting them to the finish was a massive relief.

Se7en Things I Learned About Seconding

A very wise friend and fellow Balega Impi, thanks Steve, said to me just before the start, “Look after yourself first and the rest will follow…” and I have to say, I wondered what “looking after” I would need but guessed I would figure it out along the way. 32 hours later I knew… I wouldn’t sleep as long as they were on the road and I haven’t done an all-nighter in years, and I also didn’t plan any meals for myself… figuring I would eat whatever came to hand… well nothing comes to hand when you are sitting in your car in the dead of night, waiting for runners to pop off the mountain… unless a Balega Impi fairy arrives with a box of donuts.

  1. You do Have to Plan Ahead: You can’t just show up on the day. We had several team chats with the runners, to figure out what they thought they would need on the day and also to make sure that everybody knew exactly where we would be meeting them along the route. There were places where they were only going 5km from the road, in which case they could drop their packs and there were places where they were going closer to 25 km from the road, in which case they had to properly fuel up before they went on their way and they had to take food with them.
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  2. Organise Yourself Some Actual Food: 32 hours is a long time to stuck in a car with loads of energy bars and gu, bottles of water and bottles of energy drinks and several “variously smelly” layers of clothing… but there will be literally nothing to eat. Did stop to have a meal at a restaurant, when they were supposed to be on the mountains for about two hours, only to discover that they did that peak really quickly and there wasn’t time to eat anything. Next time I will plan my meals and drinks a lot more carefully!!!
  3. Rest Whenever You Can: While they are out running… and they do that a lot, you have a lot of time to sit and stare into space… you are too hyped to sleep, to worried about all the details to do anything other than get ready for the next time you see them. And the time between meetups is not enough to go home and sleep for a couple of hours… you have to rest up in your car, download a good audible book… because half the time will be in the pitch dark. This is very much a hurry up and wait kind of a thing… massively intense for a few short minutes, followed by waiting for the team to reach the next spot.
  4. When the Runners Arrive: Feed them. The further you get into the run, the more the runners look forward to seeing you and a cheerful face. At the first few stops they will tell you what they want: this water bottle filled, these snacks in their bag, you have to learn what they like then… because they do become less able to communicate. For instance, the weather turned and they were freezing… you have to make sure that they put on some layers and keep moving… their packing skills are not the best, organized chaos… give each runner their own space, they will appreciate being able to dig about in their own bags.
  5. Quick Pit Stops are Essential: If I have learned nothing else is that for ultra events runners have to fuel from the start and there comes a time when they won’t want to eat at all, and they will just want to keep moving. It is better to go out a few hundred meters and walk them in, with something tasty to eat than wait until they are in the transition… and then fill up their bottles and talk to them while they eat… they can tell you all their stories afterwards… they need to be fuelling at change overs.
  6. When They Are Tired Coffee Helps: When our kids came off Contantiaberg they were really really tired… and the mother in me wanted to say, stop and sleep for an hour or two… but the coffee truck saved the day. While they were quaffing coffee we were able to get more energy rich food into them, they literally revived before my eyes and they were off again.
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  8. Banter with the Team and Talk to Each Runner: The most important thing is the runner’s safety, you can talk to them as a team… banter and joke with them in general, keep those spirits HIGH. But check in personally with each of them at a change over… check each runner is okay… look them in the eye, see that they are “still in there” and ask them if they need you to do anything for them. Luckily nobody asked for a leg rub (eeeuuw… I was dreading that)… but they did ask for specific snacks, they did ask for fresh socks, they did ask for a specific beanies. They didn’t ever want to stop, they really won’t want a dry shirt or a rainproof jacket but when they are cold and very tired, every bit of comfort helps. So keep on suggesting things they might need.
  9. Get a Strong Team of Supporters Going: You need big characters and good laughs, it takes a special kind of person to wake up in the freezing cold, at 4 a.m. and run a half marathon with you. Their fresh legs and encouragement and chatting to make sure that they didn’t fall asleep on your feet literaly made the world of difference.
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  11. Be Prepared to Go Out and Fetch Them In: The weather really started to turn halfway through their journey and the last chunk of 13 Peaks is really far when things are not going well… we sent out support crew up Devil’s Peak from the town side, to surprise them and encourage them down.
  12. Step Back and Let Them Conquer: When these ultra athletes stepped off the mountain and hit the road, they knew they had only 8km of road to go… the evening was cool, their friends were cheering them on, even a trumpeter arrived and they were good to go. They hit that road running, when they smelt the finish all their fatigue evaporated and muscle memory carried them to the finish.

Plenty of Time to Meet Up With Balega Impis

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It was a Balega Sock event all the way…

And a fantastic pile of socks to give away… to happy runners along the route.

Otherwise there were Balega impis providing support and encouragement… the whole way!!!
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From the start…
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To the middle…

To the finish!!!

13 Peaks is definitely a team sport… and a family favourite… honestly can’t wait to go around again!!!

Photo Gallery

Click on the Image Below to see photographs from the entire 32 hours and then some!!!

13 Peaks Overnight