Trail running is gaining a large following in South Africa, as it is indeed in the rest of the world. Mr Active, David Katz was at the recent Golden Gate Challenge three-day event. On this episode of 32Gi Sports Nutrition; hear his chat to the race’s defending champion, 32Gi fuelled Wandisile Nongodlwana. Does this man ever stop running?
You’re listening to 32Gi Sports Nutrition with myself, Mr Active, David Katz. It’s great to be broadcasting from an event this week, it’s an event I’ve been at. It’s the Old Mutual Golden Gate Challenge, a fantastic three-day trail race. You do 27km, 29km and then you end with a short 19km. But every day has a fair amount of climbing and they’re absolutely fantastic.
I’m catching up now with the man who does use 32Gi products and he was here last year. He won it last year, slightly better competition this year Wandi, but you’re still going quite well.
Wandisile Nongodlwana: It was indeed fierce competition this year. Because a lot of trained runners who are very, very good, so it was quite tough. A lot of it quite chasing, but I enjoyed it overall.
DK: Wandi, what is it, I love trail running, I know you run all sorts of things. But a race like this in a place like this, I mean Golden Gate is special and they take us to areas that people can’t get to.
WN: That’s very true Dave, this place, one of the best things about it is you come here, you spend the whole long weekend. It’s a chilled area and spectacular views as well. You see the wildebeest on certain days, like today which is day two, it was nice to see wild animals run out there. So it’s quite an amazing place to be and spend time as well.
DK: Wandi you’ve done, I think, nine Oceans and Comrades back-to-back in a row, is that right? Next year it’s double blue and green you’re going for isn’t it?
Run Wandi Run
WN: That’s very true. I’m looking forward to that. Next year it’s basically 10 Comrades, 10 Two Oceans and with all of that, I think with my preparation, I’ll be concentrating more on what I take, both for fuelling and for recovery. That’s why I’ve been using my 32Gi even on this race, which was very good.
DK: Wandi, do you take any time off from running?
WN: I do, just after Comrades I will take a break of about a month. This year though it was quite challenging because I had to do the Kruger2Canyon which was the challenge that I’ve had to put myself into. After Comrades and do the Kruger2Canyon, so it was a bit different this year. Generally, I do take some time off.
DK: What sparked the interest for you in running, what was the thing that got you into all of this?
WN: Firstly, it was basically after doing 10km, 21km and then they became too short. I met up with a friend of mine who dared me to do Comrades and then I started qualifying with a 4:20 marathon. Then from there it just never stopped and I’ve just been enjoying it. Recently it’s been trail running, which is phenomenal. Like you said, you go to places that you’ve never been to before. You experience such a beautiful atmosphere, with a lot of people as well that come and enjoy it.
DK: Trail running growing worldwide and especially here in South Africa. For people who just road run, what is the appeal of trail running?
WN: It’s the beauty of nature, it’s quite different from road running. You see guys who have broken records in road running and then they come and do trail, their time that they finish a marathon with, they will probably finish here eight or nine kilometres. Which is something you’d never do, so it’s very different. But it’s very challenging as well, which is very good.
How to keep yourself fuelled over a three-day event
DK: Wandi, looking at nutrition-wise, we’ve touched on it briefly, but for a race like this, a three-day race, how do you prepare in general? Not just what you’re using in terms of product, but how do you prepare yourself and then keep yourself fuelled for three days?
WN: It’s basically you need to keep yourself hydrated, you need to watch what you eat. But one thing that’s very important, you mustn’t change during the course of the race what you take. You need to stick to what you normally eat.
Like I said earlier on, for a race like this I would basically use my Endure 32Gi in preparation for this. I have my recovery drinks, which is 32Gi as well that I normally take. During the race, when I’m racing, I’ll have my energy gels with my G-Shot. So I’m basically using the 32Gi product and it works very well for me.
DK: You mentioned using the Endure for a race like this. Do you use the Endure over the race and the Race product and why?
WN: I do use the Race product because basically the Race product, it’s very concentrated. Because of the shorter distance here, you need to make sure that you take that upfront because it basically spikes up, unlike when you’re doing longer races. For a race like this, you need to take that Race product, which is very good.
DK: Just to let people know, Wandi runs faster than most of us, so they do need Race over Endure. The rest of us need to go for a lot longer, so the Endure is a better product. Wandi, an event like this you get fed as well and the one thing I find with these events; Dave Dickson does the catering and sometimes you land up leaving here weighing more than when you arrived don’t you?
WN: That’s correct. The caterers here are phenomenal, there’s food any time you are here. We’re sitting in the Chill Zone right now and any time you go in there in that catering tent, there’s something that you can nibble on. Sometimes it could be a bit of a birthing in a sense that you need to stop yourself from taking too much because you need to prepare for the next day. As I said, sometimes you get here and there’s lots of sweets and there’s a lot of things that you can snack on. But if ever you’re preparing to race, you just need to hold back a bit. They’re very good caterers.
Don’t ruin a good recovery by eating too much junk
DK: There’s a bit of fruit, there’s muffins but as you’ve said, there’s biscuits, there’s sweets, then they bring out cake. Just for people who are racing, that’s going to affect the next day. You’ve got to have some sort of discipline while you’re at a race. You’re at a race at the end. I know this is a Challenge and it’s about the experience, but too much sugar is not going to help your recovery too much is it?
WN: Not at all. Also, when you’re having a lot of sugary stuff and you come and race the following day, it’s definitely going to tell you; you know what, you didn’t eat properly the previous day. You start very early in the morning as well, so you need to check what you eat for breakfast as well, don’t go too much.
But if you can carry some stuff, there’s a nice water point along the route where they provide sweets and bananas and all of that. Even in the morning when you’re having your normal breakfast, I normally have a sandwich with peanut butter and that’s it for me and it works well.
DK: Do you ever fast before events, is that something you try or you need to eat something?
WN: I normally do, if I’m doing a shorter race, say 21km, I wouldn’t have anything. But generally if I’m doing 42km, then that’s when I’ll have a bit of a breakfast, small breakfast like oats or a peanut butter sandwich, that works well for me.
DK: Wandi, you’re going, as we said, for 10 Comrades Marathons, 10 Two Oceans, two of the biggest ultras in South Africa, if not the world. What is the ultimate goal, what’s still on your running agenda? Comrades, we see guys who have done 44 in a row I think now, where do you see yourself going to?
WN: Firstly, I want to achieve those two, the Comrades and Two Oceans in a very good time next year. I would love to come back and run with my green and my blue number in Comrades and in Oceans respectively. Then from there I would like to go more into trail running as well. I’d like to attend Ironman as well because that’s one challenge that I haven’t done. As long as I can try and get into the water more often, which is a bit of a challenge!
South Africa is a trail running paradise
DK: Wandi, you’re well-know and well-respected within the South African running circles because you are so versatile. We see you on the road, we see you on the trails, but for some of our international people who are listening out there, races in South Africa, they’re worth coming to do aren’t they?
WN: Very much worth coming to do. Look, all of the races here, it’s not just the experience of the race itself, but even meeting the people. Take for example this weekend, I was telling a friend of mine, you come here, you’re in a certain environment whereby everyone is the same. There’s jovial moments and it’s beautiful.
That cross-cultural diversity, you see that in the true sense of the word and we live in harmony, we really enjoy it, it’s spectacular. It’s not just about running and finishing, but just have that diversity within the running community, it’s amazing.
DK: Wandi, thanks for your time, enjoy your last day here and all the rest. We’ll look out for you completing 10 Comrades and 10 Two Oceans next year. But from myself, Mr Active, David Katz on 32Gi Sports Nutrition, and I’ll leave Wandi to say goodbye last, we’ll catch up with you next week.
WN: Thank you so much Dave. We’ll definitely catch up, thank you.