Mike van der Merwe

OUT 2024 #Runnersstories Mike van der Merwe - South Africa

It is our honor to present to you the first runner from South Africa on Ohrid Ultra-Trail. From irresistible pastries to multiple beers and adventurous trail runs. Meet the South African engineer who will challenge the field at the 40K Trail Samotska this year. Register and be part of this diverse trail running starting list.

OUT: Please introduce yourself to our followers.

Hi, I’m Mike van der Merwe (@the_mikeza), an adventurous trail runner, engineer, and running coach from South Africa. I’m currently working in the Netherlands to decarbonize the beer industry.

OUT: How long have you been running/trail running? (why do you run)

I have been running for about 4 years. After retiring from club football, I needed a new outlet, and heading into the mountains became a great way to blow off steam. Competing in races was the natural next step. I’ve really enjoyed the growth I’ve achieved since starting trail running and I’m looking forward to continuing to push my boundaries to see what is possible. There are so many amazing places to run in this world, I look forward to conquering all of them.

OUT: What do you enjoy most about trail running?

Firstly, the ability to eat large amounts of pastries after a long run 😉 

Trail running is an amazing way to escape from the world and get back to nature. It gives me the opportunity to visit unique places that very few people get the chance to see, and sharing this with others makes it even better.

It also allows me to feel like a kid again, as I can be amazed by stunning views and then enjoy the thrill as I run downhill.

OUT: Do you have a memorable running experience/story to share with us? (or your biggest achievement)

Running in the mountains is full of amazing experiences, stunning views, and great people that you meet along the way. My biggest achievement would be heading to Zimbabwe to race the Sky Run Ultra Trail - taking first place, running with a world class professional, and spending time with family that I hadn’t seen for almost 20 years. 

OUT: How do you stay motivated when the going gets tough?

The thought of that well earned post-race beer definitely helps!

You will always go through lows during the races, the training cycle, and life in general. Remembering that I have gotten through similar lows in the past and I am still here smiling helps me to keep pushing through.

OUT: What are your top three "little things" that you do to prevent injury? 

1.⁠ ⁠Never missing the chance to have a snack. Carbs are our friend!

2.⁠ ⁠Listening to my body, and never pushing my body when its needs a break3.⁠ ⁠10-15 minutes of daily strength and mobility work

OUT: If you could give a single piece of advice to less experienced trail runners what would it be?

Never lose sight of why you started running in the first place and try to always enjoy yourself. This means running will never become a chore and you will remain consistent in your training.


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