Last updated: 24-01-19

A fter what initially seemed like a simple task of rounding up 35 competitive athletes to race along a specific route, I can gladly say – based on the feedback, smiles and amount of Jack Black that was drunk – that the first ever Micro Races Series instalment was a tremendous success. I am very grateful and thankful to everyone that was involved.

The Constantia Classic TT – the first of six unique micro races throughout 2019 – took place two weeks ago on the 12 January, at 07:30am, from the Constantia Trailhead. After an initial qualification process that required interested athletes to run the full race route and then upload their best efforts to Strava, a leaderboard was established, and the fastest runners were hand selected to take part; a smaller percentage of runners were also directly invited in order to ensure that the level of competition throughout the field would be more tightly packed on the day. Those that made the grade were there forth referred to as “contenders” (ta da daa).

Timelapse while the contenders prepare for the first ever MRS.

Having no real background in “race directing” I drew from the experience I’d accumulated during my years of racing and set forth to try cover the basics of what I’d perceived to be the essentials in staging a low key event of this nature. For me – much like the entirety of the FKTseries – it’s all about cultivating a specific kind of experience, and ensuring that goal is kept in mind throughout all the elements within a project. Whether it be the minimal creation of small race bibs; adding funny requirements like having to “run around the turnstile at midrace”, or ensuring that there was a badass photographer on route that would capture something really special for each contender, the process for me was simple: make something out of nothing. Something you’d like to see in the world. Something worth experiencing.

To be honest, most of this was thrashed together last minute given the holiday season. An example of this was being a week out from race day (12th) and not having a pre-race briefing venue in place – something I really wanted to do for the sheer sake of having done it, but more importantly, for further purveying that sense that “this is real and it does count”. The Gardens Tech Rugby Club came forth very kindly by allowing us to project obscure Strava leaderboards within their amazing space on the evening of Thursday 10th . After a rather detailed prerace mailer was fired off earlier that week, we were very happy that 20 of the 35 Contenders made it to listen to our antics last minute. Race numbers were collected, questions about QOS/KOS (Queen/King of the Segment) were asked. Game on.

Images from the start/finish location at Constantia Nek Trailhead, by Talya Goldberg
Images from out on the Constantia Classic TT course, by Kyle Kingsley

On a personal note, I was a little nervous that myself and the FKTseries Crew would arrive at the race venue to find some officials awaiting our arrival, trying to put a stop to our unofficial plans. I did have a retort in place, and one I considered to be valid: we were simply a small gathering of runners in “race simulation training”. Like any training run, this was exactly that, just with the added structure of all the additional elements within a typical race. Make sense? That aside, I hoped (and hope) that people within the community viewed this as a positive thing that simply adds to the bustling energy and growth of trail running and racing in South Africa. It’s a beautiful community, and we’re all part it.

Watch prerace interviews with some of the contenders. Here is Lauren Granger (1st lady)

G iving thanks: In the build up to the first ever Consatntia Classic TT, I was very fortunate to enlist, or should I say, insist the help of the following incredible human beings that without, the first MRS would simply not have kicked off, at all.

Coaches Jonathan Black & Dylan Stevenson happily jumped on board to serve as Marshalls, and live-streamers at the 10km halfway mark; they hauled 8L of coke from Rhodes Memorial and kept things tight, high fiving runners and ensuring that they did indeed run-around-the-turnstile! These two knocked it out the park.

Talya Goldberg grabbed her Cannon 5D, tolerated all the emotions and drama of my over stimulated being, and happily and effortlessly cruised around on race day, recording interviews, capturing finishing run ins and being a massive support in allowing me to function normally. I wish I could be as cool and collected as her.

Malcolm Keyser put his hand up high when I asked whether he’d be keen to play Marshall and live stream at the 5km quarter way mark. Operating from deep within the Newlands jungle, he made use of limited LTE reception and did his best to upload content and ensure runners were diverted upwards the infamous 400 Steps that most of you are familiar with.

Watch prerace interviews with some of the contenders. Here is Ross Dold

Kyle Kingsley came to the fold in being our athlete photographer on the ground. Setting off in the early morning with Malcolm, Kyle positioned himself at the top of the 400 Steps on the “exposed rocky section” setting up to try and capture some magic of each of the 35 Contenders. As is evident by the images he shot, Kyle was simply epic and a pleasure to work with. View some of Kyles beautiful images here.

I also roped in my mom to help with getting the Contenders signed up and ready to go. She also made sure the start/finish line was tight and in general was a watchful eye that I so needed on the day. Thanks mum.

In keeping to that “experience” of things I realized we also needed a Sweep for the race to ensure nobody was left behind. I was very surprised and stoked to receive a few positive message from runners within the community after putting it out there that we needed one. A massive thank you to Toni McCann and Bianca Tarbotan for playing this essential role on the day. Kudos to you both.

Lastly, there’s hydration. A big thank you to Jack Blacks Brewery for supporting the FKTseries project as of late last year, and being so receptive and keen to provide the best beer in town, and a simply exceptional post-race venue for us all to wind down at – they allocated us a private space, let us use thier projector and even setup a 30L keg. Now that’s unreal! I’ve learnt that it’s important to a line ones projects with brands and people that share the same values. Jack Black, thank you.

Watch race footage.Here is the race start.

B ack to the race: After threatening to rain on race day, the prevailing conditions turned out perfectly. A crisp morning air filled with notes of fynbos and moisture made the race start at Constantia Nek a pleasure. Contenders started cruising up the drive way towards the start boom while the rest of the FKTseries team got into position to kick things off. Cellphones charged, tripods open, disclaimers signed, and race briefing kicked off. I made it clear that we’d really like to see the rest of the years MRS events being rolled out, and as such, given the nature of it being “unofficial, but organized” I simply said that all in all its about taking the view that the runners are not the priority on the day – it’s the walkers and hikers that are out enjoying their morning routines. “Give them a smile, a kind word and drop a hammer as you push on”. Also, bring back what you take with you. Simple. No BS.

Statements made, prerace interviews and quick fire pep talks ticked off, it was time to light the 10s fuse and start this very first race. After a quick wave to the Instagram live-stream that was tentatively hanging on 3G/E, the 35 Contenders set off to race their hearts out along the 20km TT route. And go!

Once they were all off, the pressure seemed to have dissipated like helium from a balloon. “Not much more to be done here”. But as much as I thought I had a moment to sit back, I quickly realized that it was time to check in on comms with the team and review what was happening on Social.

Watch more race footage.Here is the sprint finish for 3rd place.

T hrow by throw: Malcom nailed a dexterous feat of chatting to runners while recording and uploading content. At this quarter way mark, Dave Long was in 1st with Oriole Bolus following 10s behind. Similarly to that gap, Joshua Chigome came through in 3rd position. Tightly bunched up not too far behind the podium contention was Justin Rowles in 4th, Stephen Millard in 5th and Robert Shaff in 6th. In the ladies, the top three were pretty compacted with Lauren Granger flying through in 1st, Suzie Caras in 2nd, and Kirsten Gray in 3rd.

Jono & Dylan kept it real tidy at 10km by providing coke, dropping commentary and enforcing that round the turnstile ruling! At 10km Dave was still leading overall, but Joshua had pushed to gain 2nd overall with oriole not far back in 3rd. Stephen Millard was still running well and gaining momentum in 4th with Rob keeping it cool in 5th. Once again, the ladies weren’t budging at all, with Lauren still in 1st, Kirsten Gray now in 2nd, and Suzie Caras in 3rd.

Marching nervously up and down at the start/finish awaiting the Contenders, I almost got caught off guard carrying refreshments up to the finish when I realized were almost 1h38 into the race (that time being Jonathan Blacks standing CR for the full route). I grabbed my phone, got the finish line ready with mom and waited.

A few minutes later, it was the glimmering green shirt of the enthusiastic Joshua Chigome who had only nabbed an entry (due to a drop out) less than 48hrs before that tore into sight for the homestretch. He’s finish was a real pleasure to witness; jumping for joy about 20m from the line, he took 1st position to take the overall win for the race in a time of 1:41:24 (cooking it!). Less than a minute behind him, Dave Long came striding in proudly to claim 2nd overall (mention must be made of that fact that he is a recent new dad and basically didn’t run for a month prior to this race!). In a contentious and unanticipated event in my book, a dead heat for 3rd place was occurring next before my eyes; with about 400m to go, Oriole Bolus then in third was surprised when a young Stephen Millard came charging up from behind (he later informed us that he had been doing so for almost 2km to get into this position) to initiate an all-out sprint for the finish line between the two. The finish line was quickly pulled up, and with a split second to spare, Stephen broke it first to take 3rd overall.

In the ladies, smiling and making it look way to easy, the talented Lauren Granger came storming in to claim victory as first lady across the line with a time of 2:09:53 – a blistering new course record for the race route. Four minutes later in a time of 2:13:53, it was Kirsten Gray who came in breaming to synch 2nd lady, while Jana Van Houwelinge rounded up the ladies podium with 3rd place in a time of 2:19:08.

Be sure to watch all the race action that we tried to save through the FKTseries Instagram Highlights here. And checkout the various footage captured on the day on our YouTube Channel here.

F inal results and standings: Please click here to view the full race results of the 2019 Constantia Classic TT.

Top 3 Females:

  1. Lauren Granger
  2. Kirsten Gray
  3. Jana Van Houwelingen

*Kyla Meyerson claimed 3 bonus points by being the King of the Segment for “UTCT 400 Steps” (one of two Strava segments available for bonus points).
*Kirsten Gray claimed 3 bonus points by being the King of the Segment for “Pyramid Step-Down (N-S)”
*Lauren Granger claimed 3 bonus points by setting a new CR.

Top 3 males:

  1. Joshua Chigome
  2. Dave Long
  3. Stephen Millard

*Stephen Millard claimed 3 bonus points by being the King of the Segment for “UTCT 400 Steps” (one of two Strava segments available for bonus points).
*Dave Long claimed 3 bonus points by being the King of the Segment for “Pyramid Step-Down (N-S)”

Now that the first of the six micro races have been completed, the first round of point have all been accumulated and are visible on the overall 2019 MRS Leaderboard. At the end of the year, the contenders that qualify for and participate in the most races as possible will undoubtedly stand the best chance of earning the most points, and therefore coming closer to potentially being the Champion of the Micro race Series come the end of the year.

And that’s a wrap! We’ll be posting about the next race soon, but if you’ve been following you’ll know that’s its scheduled for the 09 March 2019: enter the Day Of Downhill…

Cheers, Lucas (if you read this entire monster, kudos!)

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Lucas R Adams (@lucasradams) is the Editor-in-Chief of the FKTseries project and shares personal “long-reads” on the philosophical aspects on running and life. Follow him on Strava

As always, thank you for taking a few minutes out of your day to read this, we really appreciate “your eyes and ears”. To stay in the loop, please be sure to follow the fktseries project by signing up to our newsletter for words, on Instagram for images, and YouTube for videos, plus feel free to join our Strava Club. Lastly, any feedback or commentary you may have is highly prized, good or bad, so don’t be shy to share it: hello@fktseries.co.za is the best place.

2 Comments

  • Terblanche says:

    Wow. This is really exciting and fun to follow. Well done guys.

    I had the opportunity to talk with an older gentleman that was there when trail running was still in its infancy. He mentioned a “couple of crazies, rocking up for a race”. He seemed a bit sad that things changed (as it must) Seems to me FTK micro races are bringing that back in their own way.

    Love it and keep up the good work!

    • Hey Terblanche, thank you for leaving us with this heartfelt comment. In many ways I guess you could say the concept about micro-races is really simple and basic at its core: “a bunch of crazies, rocking up for a race”. All the best and thanks again for taking the time to read this. Lucas

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