Fourth times a charm for Andrew Erasmus at Sky Run
01 January 1970
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Brad Brown: Welcome back onto yet another edition of Old Mutual Live and we’ve spoken about it a couple of times this year on the podcast, but we are just a few days away from the 2016 Sky Run. We’re joined now by a gentleman who will be running it in 2016, Andrew Erasmus. Andrew, welcome onto the podcast, thanks for joining us today.
Andrew Erasmus: Thank you very much.
BB: Not long to go now, how are the nerves feeling?
AE: Nerves are starting to kick in. I think you build up to Sky Run over the whole year, so by the time it gets to a couple of weeks away, you really start to think about what’s ahead and the nerves kick in.
BB: I guess it’s probably normal, knowing what’s coming, but also a case of looking back to think, maybe I should have done things slightly different from a training perspective, but the truth of the matter is, what’s done is done.
AE: Definitely. I’ve attempted this race three times now, so I have a very good idea of what’s actually out there and what’s coming. In the build-up to the race you’re always thinking of all the little things that you’d like to do. But you don’t always necessarily get out there to do them.
The attraction of Sky Run
BB: You say you’ve attempted it three times, this is number four, things obviously haven’t gone your way in previous attempts, but you keep coming back for more. What’s the attraction to Sky Run?
AE: I think it’s probably one of the toughest races on the South African calendar. You race the whole year, you can do all sorts of races, but this is really one that draws the crowds. You get all the top athletes out into some of the toughest terrain and you get to just thrash it out with them. See how you actually do on that terrain and that day.
BB: Let’s talk about some of the lessons you’ve learnt and what you’ve picked up in the previous experiences and what you’re hoping to apply this time around?
AE: My first attempt was in 2013 and that was the year that the Sky Run actually got called off because of the terrible weather. When it got called off I was sitting in third position. After that, I left that year thinking, if I put my head down, I think I can win this race. Coming back in 2014, I think I had big expectations, probably went out hard, didn’t have a great day out there. It really got the better of me. It broke me down a bit.
Came back the next year thinking I could tweak a couple of things, come right, again I had high expectations. 2015 again didn’t go very well, I had stomach problems and ended up getting taken off the mountain on the back of a quad bike with a drip in my arm. I think I’ve got a lot on the back of my mind of how I’d like the race to go. But I think basically I need to just get through it this year.
The altitude factor
BB: Let’s talk about some of the challenges too. You’re based on the north coast in KZN, Ballito is home for you. One of the big things about Sky Run is obviously the altitude and running that high. But for someone who possibly trains in Jo’burg or Gauteng, yes the altitude is going to play a part. But maybe not as big a part as it would for someone like you who is coming from sea level. Has that been a big challenge for you to have to overcome and obviously train and head to places that are higher altitude than where you’re based normally?
AE: Yes, we’re coming from sea level and we’re gaining 2 700. That’s a big difference for people coming from the coast to adapt to that. We’ve tried to spend as much time in the mountains as possible and I don’t think that I can really adapt to the altitude as much as getting my head around the fact that it’s going to hurt. But I’m not going to die out there, I just need to push through it and my body is going to be able to do it.
BB: Andrew, for someone who is possibly contemplating a Sky Run in the future, what really goes into training for one of these things? Obviously it’s different going just to finish the thing as opposed to going and whether it be going for a win or going for a podium. But it’s a long term project this, it’s not something you decide on a whim and go: I’m going to run the thing and let’s go do it.
AE: Definitely. I think that anyone who is contemplating doing it, you need to get out there, you need to do a couple of longer runs, some longer races. See how you deal with the distance and then from there start looking at running longer distances at altitude.
Be ready for self navigation
Getting into the mountains, seeing how you deal with that, how you deal with that type of terrain, slowly building into that your navigation. Cause Sky Run is all self-navigation and I think it will take a couple of years to actually build up the confidence to be running by yourself in the mountains for that distance.
BB: Let’s talk about the navigation. I’m rubbish when it comes to figuring out which direction is which. Is it something that you find comes quite easily or is it something that you battle with as well?
AE: I used to battle with it terribly. I’ve done quite a lot of map work and just getting used to running in the mountains and getting used to that type of thing. I’ve also been out on the Sky Run route many times. I did War Trail earlier this year, which is the first section of Sky Run. Also just been back for the training camp now, that we get to go run with a group of people.
Just discuss the route and look for key pointers that we can keep in mind. If it’s a misty day and you’re out there by yourself, it can get tricky. You follow a little track and you’re just really hoping that you don’t get lost out there by yourself.
BB: Absolutely. Andrew, let’s talk about aspirations and ambitions. You mentioned things haven’t gone your way the last few years. Going into this one you’re approaching it slightly different, it’s the who’s who of South African trail running going to be there. Who do you think the big names are to watch, who are the big competitors that are going to be the ones to beat this year?
Athletes to look out for at Sky Run
AE: I think there’s a number of people coming out. I think just in the top ten you’re looking at, we’ve got AJ Calitz coming out, we’ve got Christiaan Greyling, we’ve got Bruce Arnett who is won it a number of times. We’ve got quite a few people, there’s Lucky Miya that’s coming out for the first time, he’s the Sky Running Champion, South African Champion. We’ve got, I think Benny Roux is coming out, Jock Green coming out, the big names are all just coming out of the woodwork. This is really the one that you want to put next to your name.
BB: Have you thought after Sky Run or has it just been focused on this and you’ll worry about what comes next after it’s all done and dusted?
AE: Yeah, I think the whole year builds up to Sky Run, so you’re really looking at getting through Sky Run. Having a big of a break, enjoying the Christmas season, slowly getting back into training and then start worrying about next year, next year. I think this is just the main focus and after that we’ll see how things go.
BB: Andrew, best of luck, hope it’s fourth time a charm for you and we look forward to following your progress, it’s an amazing race. I’m sure you’re going to have another wonderful experience out there. The mountains do tend to throw curve balls your way, you never quite know what you’re in for. I’m sure this year is going to be no different, best of luck.
AE: Definitely, thank you very much.