The Dodo Trail

Trail running is something I had never really tried, excepting a small 5ks I did along the walking trail alone the Klienmond sea front. I enjoyed it a lot, the sea breeze, the sights and sounds of the flora and fauna and the excitement of not knowing what challenge is around the next bend. 

So we had heard of the Dodo Trail, a run through the nature reserves on the western side of the island. They had 3 trails to choose from, a 14, 26 and 52km. Being a week after my first half marathon, and not really knowing what to expect I didn’t want to push my luck, so I signed up for the 14. 

On the Friday, race pack collections and pre race briefing were held at La Pirogue hotel just down the road from us, a well-organized gig as well I must say. After collecting my race number I proceeded to stroll around waiting for the race briefing. I saw a sign that read “From Hell to Paradise” and assumed it was for the more hard-core runners doing the 27 and 52k. We were tight for time and they were having issues with there sound equipment so I thought to myself, what more can they tell me, I rock up in the morning for the bus, get to the race and run right? So back home we went, a move I would later regret!

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So after a fair intake of pasta, a good nights sleep and a bathing of sunscreen, I arrived at the hotel ready for the transfer. There were plenty of people waiting, which was nice to see after the small attendance at the Mauritian Marathon. The bus drove us to the start point, a fair distance by road to where we were would eventually end up.

A young American lady, Nicole and myself had got chatting, and luckily for me she had a fair grasp on the French language so translated what the announcer had to say. Which was pretty much drink lots of water while you can, and enjoy the race. The pack of us, a fair 270 odd runners headed down to the start. I noticed lots of camel packs, runners wearing gloves and lots of compression socks. I however had no such gear, just my stock standard road running attire! Feeling I was in for a little more that I signed up for Nicole asked me what my goal time was, I shrugged and said I didn’t really have one, I just wanted to run as much as possible. After a high 5 and wishing each other good luck we were off.  With the large pack we quickly got separated, which was not much of an issue at the time.

The first 2km or so was on pretty flat dirt road, after that however it got tricky, we started to climb, and climb and climb! As we climbed the roads became trails and after that they became rocky hill faces with little resemblance of a trail. It didn’t take very long until I had had my first fall, nothing to injure myself, but not a good feeling. The terrain became harder and harder to negotiate, with loose gravel, loose rocks and tree roots jutting out of everywhere. And then, as if Mother Nature were having a laugh it started to drizzle. This however I didn’t mind. The fact that it made the already tricky paths wet and slippery was not my worry. I was dying from the heat, and yet to see a water point.

Running was barely an option at some points if you valued your life, and if going up was not enough work, coming down on the other side was even scarier! The drizzle had stopped and now the sun was pelting down on us! The gravel coming down the side of the mountain was loose, and the gradient was steep, so much so that at parts it seemed almost impossible to stay afoot. Luckily at what seemed the steepest part of our decent there was a fence alone the side of the trail. This provided a lifeline to grab onto when my feet started slipping out from under me.

We finally reached the bottom of the hill, and a tarred road. At this point I was suffering from dehydration and my head felt that it was on the verge of exploding. The road didn’t last long though and before I knew it we were back on a path, but now at least it was under the cover of trees. We ran along the side of a river over rocks and through a fair share of mud. At one point we had to run ankle high through the river, which would have been great if it didn’t smell of rot and death. After the marshy section we made our way back onto a road, and through a village with locals cheering us on. The smell of breakfast in the air! A marshal directed us onto a field and finally the first water point. 11km in! I glugged down 2 cups of coke and the same in water, I drenched my head and hair with ever more water. I felt my temperature dropping and started feeling much better.

We ran off the field and I immediately knew where I was, Tamarin Beach. A marshal told us something as we ran past, and I had it translated for me! 3km to go. We ran along the beach for a while, then up onto a path that took us around the rather hectic rocks that line that part of the beach. Thankfully I must add. Once we had passed the rocky area we were back on the beach and struggling to find firm sand to make the final stretch a little more bearable. At this point there were 4 of us running together, a local lady who seemed no stranger to the sport, her teammate, Nicole and myself. We ran this section in single file literally on the waters edge. We where fooled once or twice by sail boats belonging to the hotels, thinking there brightly coloured sails where the finish. But finally there it was! Our final destination.

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We pulled into the hotel and ran the last couple of meters along the hotels path. I crossed the finish line with a great sensation of relief and accomplishment. To be honest it had not all sunk in yet, it was all just to much to take in at that moment. The grueling climbs, suicidal descents, lack of water, the strong scenes of camaraderie as well as the breath taking scenery.

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It is something I will definitely do again, but next time I will certainly gear up better and be both physically and mentally prepared for the challenge!

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Lets go for a drive…

In the last week, we’ve scoped out the shopping malls and checked out the best supermarkets. Today we decided to take a drive towards the south on the coastal road to see what there was to be seen. And mainly to go check out the crystal clear waters of Le Morne.

Sky was clear, sun was shining an off we went. Once we got past Tamarin, Black River’s vegetation has many similarities to South African Bos Veld. I can see why so many South Africans live in this region as it does kind of feel like home. A home comfort in a way.

We carried on south until we turned down to Le Morne. Some of the island best hotels are situated in Le Morne. A beautiful odd shaped mountain (looks like a massive rock) overlooks the turquoise bays of Le Morne.

We stopped at the public beach, so quiet and isolated, so untouched. Unreal. Never have I seen such clear water.

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We carried on around the corner to find what Le Morne is famous for. KITE SURFERS!!! So awesome, need to try it. I’m sure it’s a whole lot harder than it looks but why not give it a shot.

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From there, were headed back the way we came and took the turn to Chamarel to stop at the viewpoint on the mountain. We were so lucky, the day was just glorious and so was the view, we carried on further along the mountain, past the Rhumerie until we reached the Black River Gorge National Park. We pulled over and took a walk to the viewpoint, and what a view it is. Just stunning.

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We walked back to the car and across the road was a stand selling fresh sugar cane juice. After seeing it being made on Masterchef South Africa I was curious to try it. 50 Rupees later we had a cup of sugar cane juice and a piece of sugar cane each to chew on. Loved chewing on the sugar cane. The man who sold us the juice couldn’t speak English but was trying to tell us something. Possibly – “chewing sugar cane is like brushing your teeth”or “chewing sugar cane is good for your teeth”. I would think quite the opposite but hey who knows. The juice, hhhmmmm, not too sure about it. Was kind of brown in colour with a white froth, looked as if I was drinking an iced coffee. VERY sweet but that’s a given. I think I need to try it again to make up my mind.

From there we got a little lost in a forest, found our way out and back the way we came.  It’s truly a beautiful part of the island and something everyone should do.

The beauty on the island kind of makes up for the extremely scary drivers on the road! The locals like to take risks and one would think being South African you would be able to handle almost anything- not this.

Mike said, “People say we need to adapt, I’m cool to adapt but does this also mean I must drive like a crazy and not give a damn?”

 

Rhumerie de Chamarel

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Every tourist should make a mission to visit the Rhumerie de Chamarel. Placed in a beautiful location amongst the mountains and lush green vegetation. Its a mauritian gem. Would be a stunning venue for any occasion-especially a wedding. As you enter, you are welcomed with a friendly smile and escorted through the lovely landscaped entrance to the rhumerie and restaurant.

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The Rhumerie itself is just gorgeous with lovely decor contain photographs of the sugar cane and the workers. It really portrays a great sense of integrity and authenticity.

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Do the tour-enjoy the tasting and afterwards have a seat at L’Alchimiste –  the restaurant at the Rhumerie. Also beautiful decorated and a lovely atmosphere. If you’re having a seat to enjoy a drink- hungry or not – I highly recommend having lunch. The elegant and flavourful cuisine is just heavenly. You can taste every ounce of freshness in the produce and the presentation is a work of art that you’ll feel guilty to eat it. We had a fabulous waiter-Jason if I’m correct who gave us great service! ImageImageImage

Possibly the best piece of fish I have ever eaten. It was the perfect portion, I didn’t feel heavy and uncomfortable, I felt ultimate satisfaction. Absolutely Delicious. High five to the Chef! The meal was so superb! Dessert was fantastic-packed full of flavour!

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Food – Superb

Atmosphere – Peaceful

Service – out of this world!

Heavenly!!!

10/10

http://www.rhumeriedechamarel.com