Running duo forging inspirational trail

2018-06-12 06:01
Kane Reilly.PHOTO: Dave Levinson

Kane Reilly.PHOTO: Dave Levinson

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Aspiring local trail-running athletes in the southern suburbs of Cape Town need not look very far for inspiration.

Not only does the local terrain and climate lend itself to ideal conditions for trail running, but the ever growing community has several successful athletes to aspire to.

Kane Reilly and Megan Mackenzie are enjoying good runs in the Golden Trail Series, which culminates on the Garden Route when the running of the Otter African Trail Run takes place in October, with Mackenzie being the defending women’s champion after her win last year. After her 13th place in the first Golden Trail Series race in Spain last month at the Zegama-Aizkorri Marathon (“Local duo return from Spanish marathon”, People’s Post, 5 June), Mackenzie is eyeing greater heights.

“I’ve always said the key aspects to success are pure love of the sport combined with discipline to keep consistent. A growth mindset has been crucial for me. Instead of thinking I had reached my potential, I still believe every day that there is more I can do, more I can improve, and every day is a lesson on moving forward with better focus and mindfulness. It’s all in the mind,” she says.

The basis of trail running is centred on environmentalism and Reilly applies this mantra to his approach.

“I don’t think there is a generic recipe to ‘success’. For me there are three things I’d tell a young athlete and the biggest challenge I see in my path to what I deem to be success in the future,” he says.

Firstly, he says that results should not be the goal of trail running, and that it should always be about running in the mountains.

“Anything can happen on race day! Learn to love every element of the game – before, during and after and so-called goal races you’ll be cool. Have a good time. Being a successful athlete is about more than just winning races – I guess you have you have to build a brand to a certain degree,” he adds.

Reilly is on the marketing team and is the athlete manager at SalomonSA, which has allowed him to have some insight from multiple angles and leads him to his second piece of advice: “Stay real and look to build good long-term relationships. You don’t need to sell out to build a brand; authenticity when it comes to personal content creation should always be king. Look to build relationships rather than pick up sponsors­.”

Thirdly, he says that aspiring trail runners should always be open to learning.

“People seem to be searching for the ‘Golden Bullet’ – perhaps a coach who can set out a foolproof recipe for success. This doesn’t exist ... what works for Kilian (Jornet) won’t work for you ... everyone is very different,” he adds.

He says that learning from experts in specific areas of trail running also helps.

“Always listen to your instincts and take advice from people with a similar philosophy to you rather than just someone who is regarded as an authority,” he says.

Reilly has had his own battles in his career, most notably recovering from autoimmune arthritis in 2015.

“One challenge going forward and something that I guess Zegama may have brought to light – Table Mountain is a world-class playground! But we need to also learn to mix it up against the strongest fields around. Starting line-ups made up of athletes who spend a huge amount of time in big mountains and compete at a seriously high level from a very young age in all things from vertical kilometre races to ski mountaineering. We have many incredible athletes in South Africa but the game is very different.

“For me this may be the biggest challenge in achieving what you call success and something that I’m working on – learning to dance (consistently) with these guys,” concludes Reilly.

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