Professional trail runner and coach Landie Greyling is calling for greater mentorship and female-focused training for women trail runners.
With the Otter African Trail Run event happening in early October, the previous Champion of the 42km race through the Tsitsikamma National Park in the Garden Route is hoping to use her experience to grow the number of females lacing up their running shoes and tackling the trails.
There are two Otter races over the same distance and on two separate days, the Challenge, with an 11 hour cut off and the Run, with an eight hour cut off. According to the organisers, significantly more women enter the Challenge due to the longer cut off time – 35% women, while the Run has 15-20% women.
“It makes sense that more women are entering the Challenge it takes them longer to finish the race. Due to our genetics, women are slower than men, and are often less confident for many reasons, including that trail running doesn’t come naturally,” says Greyling. “Women tend to have a slight inferiority complex towards their male athletic counterparts, feeling they don’t have the same abilities, while men seem to take more risks, leading to them doing more adventurous things.”
To counter this, Greyling, who in 2018 became a mother for the first time, feels women need a platform where they can safely put their skills into practice. “This will result in women athletes who are more confident in their own abilities which will lead to them pushing the boundaries of their own imagined limits.” With encouragement and empowerment, Greyling hopes to educate, inspire women through skill workshop courses as well as through shared story telling. “If women share with each other, they see that other ladies have same fears, they can share the same things that encourage them, motivate them, things that they love.”
“My experience with trail running has shown that women want a voice, a place to talk, share the things about what they experience. It’s all about camaraderie – it’s all about becoming a stronger force altogether.”
It is Greyling’s hope that by creating more female trail running groups and women-specific skills workshops, including those specifically aimed towards Otter, this will influence the fairer sex to appreciate that the sport is doable as well as fun. “The best part is being outside enjoying nature – once you start practicing your stairs, rockhopping and technical terrain, your confidence improves dramatically and the fun starts. We need more ladies out there, to become a strong force to be reckoned with.”
To work towards this outcome, Greyling will host a women’s specific trail workshop at the end of August/September. She will also connect female trail runners in the Cape on her Facebook Group, helping to coordinate runs and offering advice. She will be among the women lining up to tackle the African Otter Run on October 11.