Tankwa Trail – Tarryn de Beer smashed it!

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I used to run, and I used to struggle – but I enjoyed it. When I managed to train hard enough to be able to do a half marathon, I rested for about a week after the race. My legs hurt, my back hurt, everything hurt. Now imagine a 30km run, but not any run, a trail run – and then waking up and doing it again! When we heard a friend of ours was doing this, we really wanted to talk to her about it! Tarryn de Beer is determined, focused and super modest!

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Tell us a bit about the Tankwa Trail? How far is it? Where is it and what sort of people run it?

It’s a three day stage race in the Koue Bokkeveld region in the Western Cape, after three years of hosting the Tankwa mountain bike trek, the organisers  obviously saw the great potential the area had for a trail running and so came the Tanka trail run. The race covers a distance of about 90km over three days; day one is 32.5 km with about a 550m elevation; day two is 35km with about a 700m elevation and day three is 22km with a 400m elevation. 2016 was the inaugural event, and although the starting field was small relatively small (about 57 runners), it was not lacking in talent. Some of South Africa’s top trail runners were there to experience this great race: Salomon athletes, and super running couple Landie and Christian Greyling; mountain man and Kway athlete, A.J. Clitz; the legendary Katya Soggot and even South Africa’s 800m specialist Etienne Plaaitjie. So we had pro’s, semi pro’s and then a mix of seasoned/newbie runners. The terrain, although tough, was manageable, experience is needed though, it just makes it easier when the going gets tough, building kilometres in the old legs is a must if you want to finish.

How much training did you do in the lead up to the race? How often did you run and how far?

I’ve been tail running for years now, so the ‘training’ kind of fell in with my every day running routine. In December 2015 I decided I wanted to run the African X, another three day stage race of similar distances taking place in March 2016. I thus downloaded the training program designed for that race and used it as a guide for how many km’s I should be running each week building up to the event. As I was used to running 6-8km, 3-4 times a week plus maybe one long run (10-15km) on the weekend, I just needed to up the total km’s per week.

In December, I got into a routine. Monday rest day, Tuesday intervals (fast-slow running sets during a 8-9km run), Wednesday easy long run (normally about an hour), Thursdays rest / swim / walk, then Friday, Saturday and Sunday were designed to simulate the race. So I was supposed to run the three days back to back, doing a mild run on the Friday, a long run on the Saturday and another long, but easy run on the Sunday. Its only by Feb that I actually managed to do one of these blocks.

In February, when I was asked to run the Tankwa trail for Full Stride, I took it on without question. Although the training programme for African X still went on until March, I was confident I would be fine for the Tankwa. This was the perfect training run for the African X. It fell in pretty well with the program as that weekend was scheduled for a 30km long run plus a 90 min recovery on the Sunday. What’s an extra 30km on the Friday before?

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Tell us a bit about your partner? Did you create an unbreakable bond by achieving something as great as you did, together?

Leslee Slazman and I met at a local trail race in Stellenbosch late last year. She had just moved down from Durban and was new to the area. I met her again randomly at a training run for the African X trail on Table Mountain in late January. It’s here that we exchanged numbers after a post run cooldown at Glen beach. We were blessed not to be too far apart in running ability (until day three when I bonked) so that was great. Going in we did not know each other well. Going out we know random stuff about each other we would not have known had we socialised under other circumstances. It’s a different start to a friendship. It quite refreshing. Our next meeting will however be over a glass of wine and some good food.

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What’s the hardest part of the run, and what’s harder to overcome – the mental battle or the physical pain?

Running with a partner I have never run with before, matching pace, and trying to gel your running habits with someone new, particularly someone I had only met a few weeks back was really tough. I don’t mean this in a negative way, its just something you think will come naturally, but on a long run like that you want to be relaxed, you don’t want to constantly worry how you going to tell your partner to slow down, or speed up, or to walk, or to stop for my 10k mark stretch session….hahahaha…

The hardest part for me was the mental battle. I could handle the pain. After getting my blistered toes injected with methylate after day two, I could handle anything. I was suffering from nausea and knee pain on Sunday, all I could hear in my head was “stop”, “you can’t”, “you’re going to puke”, “you’re dehydrated”, “this hill is going to kill you”, “Leslee slow down”. I just had to keep fighting. The 21km’s on Sunday felt like 50kms. It only took just over two hours, but it felt like a life time. My emotions were shot. You get so caught up in it all. You don’t think about anything else, just that moment and how hard it is. Your mind needs to be fit like hell to let you know it’s not that bad or that long.

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Give us some insight into what your routine is, after you cross the finish line until you get to the start line the next morning? How do you get your body ready for another gruelling 30+ kms. (food and injury)

Finish, smile, drink recovery mix, water over the head. Then straight into a good 30 minute stretch. Shower, eat and a massage. Or shower, massage and then eat. Then I was supposed to sleep but I was never sleepy, my heart rate stayed high; probably due to the excitement. So I mulled around the camp, wrote a race report, drank half glass of wine and chilled on the grass eating figs and drinking chocolate milk before dinner. A sleep would have done wonders though, and is something I recommend. Chilling after the race is imperative.

What’s next for you? What’s your next dream/challenge?

I’m still hoping to do the African X on 11-13 March, if my knee gets better. Other than that I’m thinking (which means I’m probably going to) of doing the UTC (ultra trail cape town). I’ll do the 65km. This is in December 2016. In-between though I’ll defiantly take on the Mountain challenge series (Jonkershoek, Helderberg and Marloth mountain challenges which are 38, 24 and 35km respectively, all above 1600m of elevation. My ultimate goal is to eventually enter and win the lottery to run the hardrock 100 miler in America. I also want to run some of the Sky run series races in South Africa. I want to run a lot, and far. I love running.

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Do you have a sponsor or at least hoping for one?

No, I don’t. There’s a lot of talent out there. It would however, be amazing to an ambassador for woman’s trail running. I love it so much and would love to share my stories, pains and glory with any eager females wanting to start. It’s all about the freedom, the fun, the exhilaration. Its breath-taking. More people need to know this and know how doable it is. It’s just take a pair of shoes and an adventurous soul.

Guys, this women is incredible! What she’s doing is really special, and like I said, she’s so determined! She’s not just satisfied with finishing an epic race like this, she’s always thinking about the next race and clearly reaching for the stars! We’d love to see her reach her dreams.

Remember we said she was modest….? Ummm…. Tarryn and Leslee finished third in the ladies section. THIRD… OVERALL!!! Absolutely unbelievable! Guess she just forgot to mention it.


Photo cred: OakPics and Seamus Allardice



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