book reviews, exploring, trail running

South Africa’s “Trail Blazer”

I was fortunate enough to meet South Africa’s ultra-distance trail running superstar, Ryan Sandes, earlier this year at the Cell C African X Trail Run as he was promoting his recently launched biography called “Trail Blazer – My Life as an Ultra-distance trail runner.”

I was very keen to read this book to learn more about how Ryan basically came out of nowhere to become one of the world’s best ultra distance trail runners. Before hearing about Ryan Sandes, I had always thought Comrades was the ultimate ultra running race. Although it is without-a-doubt an incredible accomplishment for any runner to finish the Comrades, reading about the distances and conditions of the races Ryan has won almost makes the Big C seem less significant.

Ryan Sandes has definitely changed my perspective of what a “hard core” runner is. I still can’t get my head around running through a desert for 250 kilometers over six days let alone running in the snake-infested Amazon Jungle and winning the race! He truly is an awe-inspiring athlete.

I am running my first Comrades Marathon at the end of the month which I am very nervous about as it will be the furthest I have ever run in one day. But I have found that having read “Trail Blazer” recently, it has helped give me an extra boost of confidence to believe that I can do it.

In each chapter of the book there is a “Stuff I’ve Learnt” section with key takeouts and tips to becoming a better runner in terms of training and racing. Two takeouts from the book I will keep reminding myself during Comrades is to force myself to eat even when I am not hungry and to run the first half of the race more conservatively to hopefully be able to finish “relatively” strong.

It goes without saying that Ryan Sandes’ success in ultra-distance trail running has certainly been a catalyst to growing the sport of trail running in South Africa. He has truly become an inspiration to many runners in the country and I really do look forward to follow his future success and hopefully reading a sequel to this book.


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