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TrailLab – Improve your Game!

TrailLab – Improve your Game!

Trail or Mountain running camps are a fairly new concept in South-Africa. To be honest I have not heard of any formal camps taking place, but I could be wrong. A couple of months ago I spotted “Trail Lab” on Facebook and contacted the founder to find out more.

So starting off what are these umm… “Trail Camps?”

Usually Trail Running Camps are designed for all runners wishing to either improve their performance or simply ‘getting started’ off-road, like an induction into mountain and trail running. You don’t need to be a marathon runner or a speed demon to join our running camps but generally have a good fitness level to enjoy the maximum benefit from the camp.

During the camp you can expect experienced coaches to share their expert advice and provide you with a balanced itinerary of getting out into the hills and running, coaching tips, nutritional advice, running technique, gear advice and so on.

I sat down with Jack Davis, the founder of Trail Lab, to find out more of what I can expect when I join TL‘s next weekend camp – plus what sets TL apart from the others? If there are any in RSA :)

In a nutshell, Trail Lab is all about hosting Training Camps for the “average Joe” to come and join the team, and the experts in the field of Trail running. Aiming to make runners better and fitter trail runners, while giving you all a great experience and improving your skills, and knowledge.

Trail Lab aims to take trail runners out into some of the most beautiful wilderness areas our country has to offer and let these runners experience some of the most spectacular single track trail in a relaxed environment.

Venue of the first TrailLab camp - Drakensberg,KZN

Venue of the first TrailLab camp – Drakensberg,KZN

I had some questions lined up while we chatted about everything from work to trail running over a Mocha and Milkshake!

Q: Jack – before we start, tell me more about yourself and how you got into running?

A: “I started running seriously about 8 years ago, actually my wife got me started! I ended up taking up running so we could spend some quality time together on the road and the trails”

Q: Where did the “Trail Lab” concept originate from?

A: “Well, seeing all the professional runners attending these training camps and reaping the benefits of these camps is where the spark came from. I am not a professional runner but I also wanted to experience what the pros were doing and that is when TL was born. I saw the gap in the market to provide this type of camp to your average runner that wants to take his running more seriously or improve on technique”

Q: Let’s get into it – what will the average runner gain from attending one of the TL Camps?

A: “Athletes can expect good value for their money! We are really focused on providing runners with the best kit we can. They will get to test a whole range of equipment and gadgets from First Ascent, Suunto and Led Lenser. The highlight of course will be the intimate coaching from our professionals that will be invaluable to the athletes”

Q: What form of training should the runners have that attend the camps?

A: “We are catering for all types of runners but to get the maximum benefit you should be able to run 3-4 hours. Our goal is to make sure that every athlete is comfortable and to keep all of them together, but because every group is different we will play it by ear”

Q: How will you make sure that the slower runners still feel included?

A: “It really comes down to what types of fitness levels the athletes have, but we will make sure that everyone is comfortable and does not feel intimidated. We want them to enjoy their time with us at the camp and take home good memories, hopefully join up again for one of our longer endurance camps”

Q: What type of activities can runners expect at the camps?

A: Running,
• Sports massage (Included)
• Informal stretch group
• Talk on active patch 4U
• Gear demonstrations
• Great food
• Leading sports dietician presentation
• Testing of quality gear
• Socializing with other runners and professionals
• Night Running
• Photos of the event
• And much more!

Q: What are the challenges you face in setting up these camps?

A: “The main problems we face besides the logistics of making everything happen at the right time are co-ordination issues and also the risk of the event not filling up in time. But this is just like anything- you will face challenges. Another challenge is the timing of the camps so that they actually complement other events and not compete with them”

Q: How big is your team and what type of support can runners expect from them?

A: “Our team consist of myself, my wife Michelle (in charge of operations), and a running friend and of course the professionals joining us. We also have a medic on standby should anything happen”

Q: How important are partnerships with apparel companies in making these camps affordable and giving runners some great goodies?

A: “Essentially partnerships make or break these types of camps because we need the support from our apparel partners to ensure the runners get more value for their money. Our main apparel partner is First Ascent which was a very good fit for us since they have quality products that are proven. We also have Suunto and Led Lenser on-board. Big shout out to Stacy Rhebock from performance brands.”

Q: How has the response been from the community?

A: “We had our first test camp in the Drakensberg and the support was amazing. With this upcoming Gauteng weekender camp we have had great support and every spot has been filled. The weekender camps are more accessible and affordable to the community. Event organisers have also showed their support and there will be some interesting things to come in the future”

Q: Where do you hope this journey will take you?

A: “More time outdoors and in the mountains, creating the community and platform for people to become better trail runners, and building on the skills we already have. I am also a trail runner so obviously I want to benefit from the camps and improve my running”

Thank you Jack for your time and enjoy the first Gauteng Camp!

Contact Details

Contact Details

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So UltraRunners there you have it! Something we have been waiting for has finally started here in RSA and I am sure the support will grow going forward.

I will be tagging along over the weekend and bring you another article documenting my first-hand account of their Gauteng weekender camp. I am by no means a fast or better than average runner! This is going to make for an interesting weekend.

Happy Trails!


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Pieter Steyn

Founder at Ultrarunner_ZA
Big Dreamer...Loving Husband to a beautiful wife :) Runner and Wannabee UltraRunner! Takes life too seriously.
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About The Author

Big Dreamer...Loving Husband to a beautiful wife :) Runner and Wannabee UltraRunner! Takes life too seriously.


  1. Trail Lab - The Weekend Edition! - UltraRunner ZA - […] If you have not read my pre-camp interview you can find it here. […]

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