Imagine finishing second in your debut Ultra, Rory Scheffer did
10 December 2016
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Brad Brown: Welcome onto yet another edition of Old Mutual Live, great things start here, great things start now. A great pleasure to welcome our next guest onto the podcast. Had a pretty decent performance recently at the 2016 Mont-aux-Sources Wild Series Challenge. It’s a great pleasure to welcome Rory Scheffer onto the show.
Rory Scheffer: Good morning.
BB: Rory, obviously trail running is a huge part of what you do, but let’s touch on Monties for a second. Finishing second, four minutes off the winner, you must be pretty chuffed with that race.
Great to finish second in my first Ultra
RS: I was very chuffed. Mont-aux-sources was obviously the longest race I’ve done thus far. I’m working my way up towards the ultra distances and it was a great introduction as my first ultra. Coming away with second was not what I expected.
I sort of went there, had my own race and felt good on the day and just hung onto Eric as much as I could. He was obviously a lot quicker on the day, but that’s to be expected. He’s a legend in his own right at ultra distances. So yes, for my first ultra, Mont-aux-Sources was great, just looking forward to progressing from there.
BB: I’m sure. You mentioned Eric, it’s Eric Ngubane who ended up winning Monties this year. Did you go into the race with any sort of ambitions or was it a case of let me see how my body reacts to this increased distance? Or did you go there hoping to possibly pick up a podium?
RS: I did go there hoping to get a podium. But as I said, being my longest run, I went there wanting to just see how my body would react to a longer race of that nature. I did run the month before in France which was a 46km. So I thought 4km more, I can do it, it should be fine. Then felt good. My body reacted well and I ended up with second. So I’m really chuffed with that.
Doing my bit for the environment
BB: I’m sure you were. You also took part in a pretty unique, I don’t want to call it a race, it was a race. But a pretty unique event on World Rhino Day that took place again this year, the Rhino Peak Challenge. Tell us a little bit about that. I believe you were the quickest, an incredible event for a great cause.
RS: Yes, a week before the Rhino Peak Challenge I got a call saying do I want to come and compete in this unique event with a bunch of top runners in SA. Just see how quickly you can go up and down the Rhino Peak in the Drakensberg for a good cause to raise awareness for the rhino as an endangered species. As well as the bearded vultures.
It was a no-brainer for me to go there and support the cause. The race itself was a half marathon up and down Rhino Peak, starting at 1 700m and finishing at 3 000m. The conditions on the day were quite treacherous, the winds at the top were upwards of 100 km/h. We had the likes of Lucky Miya, Christiaan Greyling, Nick Naude, Landie Greyling, just to name a few, pushing us all up to the top.
It wasn’t a race in the sense that, see who can get the prize money. As I said, the prize in the end was to raise funds for the rhinos which we did. We got huge support with over R300 000 raised going towards a great cause. But on the day we all just set off as fast as we could to see who could get the quickest time and had Lucky Miya pushing me the whole way. We finished ten seconds apart, so it was a good race up in the mountain again in the Berg.
BB: Rory, you’re fairly new in the sport, you’ve only been around it for, I think 5-6 years. You only took it up 2011, how did you get into the sport, what was the reason? I believe you decided you wanted to get fit, you wanted to lose a bit of weight and obviously you’ve discovered you’ve got some ability?
Running started as motivation to lose a little weight
RS: In 2009 I moved to Port Elizabeth from Natal and it was a phase in my life where I found a couple of friends, started partying and put on a bit of weight. In 2011 I went back to Natal and someone said to me: You’ve put on quite a bit of weight. So I thought, okay, I’ve never been a big guy, so let me just go out.
I started training a bit to lose a bit of weight and ended my first trail race in 2011. I did horribly, but it was so much fun. I enjoyed being out in the mountains. Then just from there the bug bit and I started training a bit more. Then I only sort of became competitive let’s say three years ago when I started actually focusing more on my running.
Then I just got stronger and stronger. Now I’m under the guidance of a coach in Cape Town, Tim Ellerbeck. Helping me, guiding me through all these races. Without their support I don’t know if I’d be here today. It’s been going well. I moved to CT in January to pursue my running career a bit more and we’ll see how it goes.
BB: Brilliant. We’ll chat about Tim in a mo. Were you pretty active as a kid growing up? Like at school, were you active first of all. Second of all, were you any good at anything? It’s all good and well playing sport or doing certain things. But have you had ability your whole life or is this only discovered in the last couple of years?
RS: I’ve never been a runner as such before, in my school years I did play hockey for first team at school. But not over-competitive where I’d want to pursue it as a career. I used to ride motor bikes a lot as well. But as I said, when I moved to PE I sort of just stopped playing sport, just for a year and a half. I think I always have been outdoor inclined, growing up on farms, I’ve loved being outdoors. So just combining running and the freedom of movement out in nature, I think that’s what sparked the love of running.
How a coach can be a game changer
BB: Rory, I love the fact that you have enlisted the help of a coach. Often runners, you don’t have to be the best runner to benefit from having a coach. But I think a lot of runners don’t realise how much they can actually improve and benefit by having somebody work with them. Closely with them to improve their running. They think it’s just a case of put on running shoes and off you go and you’ll be okay. But you obviously believe in having a coach. What are some of the benefits you’ve gotten out of working with Tim at Velocity Sports Lab?
RS: Absolutely, I would recommend anyone who wants to take running a little bit further just to become fitter and enjoy it a bit more. To enlist the help of a coach will help benefit anyone on any level, I reckon. Even if it’s just someone that you don’t see on a regular basis, you don’t have to do it as a structure. Just as long as you have some form of guidance to prevent injuries. Also, training under a coach you meet a lot of people and the social side of running is great. In the sense where sometimes you’ve got to track on Tuesdays and you meet new people there and you just push each other. It just creates a great atmosphere.
BB: Rory, as far as what’s still on the cards, I know you’ve got Otter coming up on the very near horizon, you’re also running Ultra Trail Cape Town in December. What are you hoping for with those two races and then beyond, 2017, what are you looking at and what are some of your goals and aspirations?
To Otter, Ultra Trail CT, and beyond
RS: Otter is next weekend, so it’s just a lot of tapering off now, not doing too much mileage on the legs. Just recovering, making sure I’m strong before next weekend. Hopefully I would like to get under a sub-four and a half.
There is an incentive of R100 000 for the person that breaks sub-four, but we’ll see what happens this year with the likes of Mark Lauenstein coming down. He broke sub-four last year for the Otter, East to West, which is not as difficult as the West to East. He broke it by 30 seconds. So we’ll see if he can pull off an upset this year.
For my race, I think I’m just going to hang in there, it is my first Otter, never done it before. It is a unique race in the sense that it’s on the coast. It’s not big mountains, but you still have huge elevation gains with the steps up and down, with the short climbs. So it’s a completely different race to what I’m used to.
So we’ll see what happens. I’m hoping to do as well as I can, if I get a podium, that’s great. If not, walking away there knowing I’ve given it my all. Then Ultra Trail Cape Town, again, that’s 65km, it’s the furthest I’ve run after Mont-aux-Sources, so we’ll see what happens there. I’m hoping to do as well as I can again.
Then for 2017 I haven’t focused too much on my race calendar just yet. I think towards the end of the year I’ll have a look at it. But for now I would like to go international and do one or two races overseas. Then I’d like to do my first ultra road, which would be the Two Oceans. We’ll see how that goes, that’s also something I’m not used to. Something completely different, but I like trying new things.
BB: Awesome, Rory, best of luck for the Otter and Ultra Trail Cape Town and we look forward to catching up with you at Old Mutual Two Oceans next year. It’s an incredible race, I’m sure you’re going to have a great one. We look forward to following your progress, thanks for your time today.
RS: Great, thank you so much Brad, have a great day.