The Professor offers sage advice for Giant’s Cup runners

Photo - Anthony Grote / Gameplan Media

Last year “The Professor” gave a master class to the trail running community at the Giant’s Cup trail run in the South Drakensberg, but this year Iain Don-Wauchope, nicknamed The Professor, is unable to take part due to illness, but he was on hand this week to give some sage advice to those taking part in the 2017 event on 19-20 May.

Last year Don-Wauchope, who was nicknamed The Professor by younger trail runners at the Otter African Trail Run because of his perfect pacing strategy, was a convincing winner of the Giant’s Cup when he beat Ben Brimble by 40 minutes over the two-day event in the Southern Drakensberg.

This year the run takes place on Friday and Saturday, 19-20 May and North Face/Mountain Splendor’s Don-Wauchope’s advice to experienced and newbie runners was a simple: “relax and enjoy the scenery.”

“I have found over the years that a lot of first timers burn up a lot of nervous energy, both before a big event and sometimes even after they have started. If you are relaxed and calm then you will not use up as much energy which means you will have more energy to finish the event.

“And runners must take time to look around and admire the scenery while running. Sometimes I have to remind myself to look up and enjoy where I am running.

“It is easy to get caught up in the running and racing and our heads are down and we forget to admire where we are running.

“I think the Giants Cup event has a good future because it has the added feature of taking place on an iconic hiking trail. I foresee in time the event will be popular and and attract large fields because of its setting.

“When comparing it to other South African events it is tougher than most, but compared to international races it is not too difficult. Overseas there are a lot of races with much tougher with steeper climbs.

“I think this race is not so difficult that the average runner cannot take part. One of the advantages that trail running has is that you are expected to walk sometimes. You even see the elite runners who will walk on the steep hills, and that breaks things up a bit.

“So something like this may seem long for an inexperienced runner, but even a 35km distance is not 35km of pure running,” added Don-Wauchope.

A glance at Don-Wauchope’s CV and it is clear newbie runners will do well to listen when The Professor offers advice.

Last year’s Giant’s Cup victory was just a small addition to a list of achievements that embraces five podiums at the tough Otter African with three wins, three Salomon Sky Run titles which include the 2014 win that broke Ryan Sandes record for the tough 100km event, and numerous international victories.

Don-Wauchope, who owns and manages a family resort in the Central Drakensberg, will not be taking part this year because he is recovering from a bout of adrenal fatigue and is currently only able to run about 30 to 40 minutes a day.

Hi wife, Su, will however be on the start line next weekend to defend the title she won in 2016.

The two-day run is a spectacular trip through the pristine Maloti Drakensberg Park World Heritage Site. The event starts from the Sani Pass Hotel and the 32km first day of the race incorporates the Gxalingenwa Trail and days one, two and three of the Giant’s Cup Hiking Trail before finishing at Castleburn Farm near Drakensberg Gardens.

The second and final day of the race is a 30km stretch along days four and five of the Giant’s Cup trail and will see the athletes run from Castleburn to the Bushman’s Nek resort.