Professional trail runner Landie Greyling won the African Otter in 2014 and came second last year; next month she plans to tackle the 42km Challenge while six months pregnant.
The African Otter has two editions – the race with a nine hour cut off and the Challenge with an 11 hour cut off, which Greyling plans to attempt. She has been a trail runner for 10 years, representing South Africa in numerous World Champs events, and is physically conditioned for trail running, which she did throughout her first pregnancy with son Christopher, born in September 2018.
After starting off the year in fine form with a fourth place at the Hong Kong 100, Greyling was looking forward to a cracker year on the international circuit until races were cancelled due to Covid-19. She had planned to race the year and in 2021, expand her family with professional trail runner husband Christiaan. “Because of Covid-19, we decided to speed up the plan and our second baby – which we are keeping the gender of a surprise – is due early February,” she said.
Greyling is currently 22 weeks pregnant and runs six days a week, sometimes twice a day, doing fartlek and hill sessions in preparation for the Otter challenge.
“Training keeps my energy levels up and keeps me healthy. If you are used to a specific kind of exercise, I believe it is safe to continue while pregnant, obviously listening to your body and consulting with your medical professionals,” Greyling said. “I’m slightly heavier on the uphill’s but I’m enjoying being able to climb mountains, do summits with Christopher and Christiaan, enjoying nature and appreciating my health and mobility.”
Not having to miss out on races due to being pregnant has made the journey a little easier. “With Christopher there were a lot of events I wanted to do but couldn’t do because I was pregnant.”
Greyling said not having races to train for had made her second pregnancy much calmer. “When I’m training as a professional athlete there is always pressure to fit everything in, such as getting to the biokinetist, have massages, training, recovery and sponsorship responsibilities to name a few. I love my job, but now I get time to be a homebody and do special things with my little boy. I have a flexible job, so I spend more time with him and I am enjoying being in a different mindset to that of the focus required for competition times.”
“I am looking forward to the African Otter and hope my pregnancy will continue to go well so that I will get to toe the start line.”
A trail run and specifically the Otter is unique in the unpredictability of weather conditions, and Greyling said she would not take any unnecessary risks, always putting her own and her unborn baby’s health first. So if the conditions are unsuitable, she will make the decision to pull out of the race beforehand.