"I'd rather be seen on my bicycle than on a park run" - Quote from the dark side

Friday, 22 July 2011

Q & A – Some Answers

I received a lot of questions for my Q&A post. Thanks everyone! Wow you are a nosey lot! No, just kidding, you are all the best!

So here goes, I decided to just let it rip in one ultra post:

Were you born in S. Africa? If not, where were you born?
Yes, I was born in Johannesburg, South Africa.

And how many languages do you speak and what are they?
I speak 2 fluently, English and Afrikaans. I also speak a little Zulu, Sotho and Ndebele. I understand Ndebele completely.

Hmmmm, one more thing, do you have a dog?
Yes, we have 4 dogs at home. I love dogs and all animals.

What is your “ultimate race”?
For me Badwater is the ultimate race. There are other’s that come close, especially the multi day desert races, but there is something about Badwater that really intrigues me. I’ve been following it very closely since 2003.

What's the best thing about living in South Africa, and if you could live anywhere in the world, where would that be?
The fantastic weather. I run outside throughout the year because we have such fantastic weather. It is also a country of extreme variety and I like that. Any where else…mmm Colorado, California…somewhere close to some awesome trail 100 milers. :) Having said that, I wouldn’t leave SA easily.

What does your job entail?
I’m in IT and specialize in software performance testing. I test software under load to find bottlenecks in systems. For instance, I’m currently testing one of the SA bank’s Internet Banking sites to see if it can handle 50 000 payments at once.

How long have you been running?
I’ve been running races for 30 years now. I did my first race in 1981. It was a half marathon. Before that I ran some x country at school.

Does anyone in your family share your love for running?
My dad is as passionate as I am. He is my running hero and inspired me to start running.

Where is the farthest you've been from home?
Many years ago when I was doing an army camp I escorted someone to China. I think that’s the farthest but will have to look which part of the world is how far from home.

Ok, so two questions, one personal, one political:
* Did you start out with road racing at all before getting into ultras?

Yes, my first race was a half marathon. However, here in South Africa we move to ultras almost immediately. This is mainly because of the Comrades Marathon. Runners here train for that as runners would train for a marathon in other countries. That’s what you run for. Marathons are just a step to the ultras here and are seen a bit low key by most. We have many road ultras here as well.

* It hasn't been that long since apartheid in S. Africa--how would you describe the state of racial relations these days? Has the country made true progress?
Well it’s been 17 years and a lot of changes happened. In general good progress everywhere and the country is heading in the right direction. There are problems for sure and some are definitely racial. I think the worst is people are getting fed up with the new government that, after 17 years, still blames their poor delivery on apartheid. They promised the world to the people in 1994 and now they don’t deliver that. The other bad thing is that a lot of black people still blame all the white people for apartheid while all the forces of apartheid are long gone. A lot of people see all white people as racists because they are white and that is really sad because it is so far from the truth.

What is your daily diet like...I mean...North American vs African?
Actually I think it’s surprisingly similar. I eat cereal for breakfast and take sandwiches to work. Supper is usually a cooked meal (maybe we do more cooked meals here) with some meat, veggies (green beans, pumpkin, spinach…the normal stuff), potatoes and rice. We do the same junk food as you do and also love pizza.

Coldest temperature you have run in?
-7°C (19.4F) some years ago. The coldest most years are -4°C (24.8F). So far this year it’s been -3°C (26.6F). I have never run in snow and really hope I get to experience that some day.

OK, so if you had a third arm, where would be on your body and what would be it's purpose?
Mmm probably in the middle of my chest to help with carrying and also climbing mountains quicker.

How much water do you drink before and after a race?
I don’t necessarily drink more water before or after a race than I normally do. I drink lots of water every day and even at night. I run at least 6 days per week so I always make sure I stay hydrated. In summer this will be about 3 liters per day and winter about 2 liters. I also drink lots of coffee and chocolate milk. After a tough, warm ultra I sometimes drink 3 to 4 liters of chocolate milk.

My questions all revolve around your previous career. How long did you practice as a vet? Where did you study? What was the most interesting animal that you treated? And why the career move?
Although I though it to be my dream career I realized very quickly that it was not really what I wanted to do as a career…more as a hobby. I was intrigued by computers and technology and somewhere I discovered that IT is where my passion lies. I’m lucky that I also found my passion within IT, software performance testing. I’m one of the lucky ones that can say I absolutely love my job and do it passionately every day. In SA only the University of Pretoria gives the Veterinarian course at the Onderstepoort Research Institute. I do regular caesar surgery on some live bearing fish…does this count?

When are you coming to Vermont to do the Ultra 100?
I’m looking into this one very seriously and hope I can make it in 2013. Would love to in 2012 but I don’t think it will happen.

What sites, cities or things-to-do would you recommend to a tourist coming to S Africa?
Me, you have to visit me! There is a great variety in South Africa. Obviously the game reserves with the big five and other game is always a must do for any non-African visitors. Then there is also Cape Town with Table Mountain and the Garden Route along the southern coast. Wine routes, the West Coast and one of my favorite places, the Drakensberg. There is really something for everyone.

What are some weird/different things you read about on American's blogs? (weird compared to life in SA)
Americans are all very weird! Lol! No, not really. On running I found it weird how everyone is training to run a marathon. Here everyone trains to run Comrades or some other ultras. Marathons aren’t the big achievement in SA, Comrades is. I also find it weird how everyone follows specific training plans and not make up their own. Then there is the coaching issue…we just don’t use coaches. I think South Africans run a lot more for the fun and social side of it. We are not that phased about times and splits. Oh yes, and the miles and Fahrenheit vs the kilometers and celcius…weird! And who measures fluids in ounces? But I love you all a lot!

If you were to get a chance to race in Colorado, would you rather do Hardrock 100, Leadville 100, or a shorter race like Pikes Peak Marathon? (or one of the other fabulous races in the mountains....)
I’d love to do Pikes Peak but when I take the journey and spend the money it will probably be for the Leadville 100. Hardrock might be too hard to do while actually on vacation…:)

Do you primarily speak Afrikaans or English on a daily basis?
Both. At home we speak only Afrikaans and my son goes to an Afrikaans school. At work we speak mostly English with some Afrikaans as well. Away from work I’m Afrikaans.

I'd love to know how you got into ultra-running...
Well if you read some of my earlier answers you’ll know ultra running is what we do here in SA. I ran my first ultra in 1985 with my dad as part of his Comrades preparation. It was a 56km (34.7mile) race.

And also, what's the story of the special lady you once mentioned in a comment to me, about racing and relationships? 
Ha, I’ll share this with you, but not with the world yet…when the time is right.:)

Have you always lived in South Africa?
Yes, I was born in Johannesburg and has always lived here.

What is your "dream race"?
The Jungle Ultra in Peru. Multi day race over 235km (146 miles). Part of the description reads “where the Andes meets the Amazon”…amazing!

Would you ever, for any reason, run naked in front of people you don't know?
If it is for the right cause and the people really don’t know me I might…

Have you ever run barefoot?
No, but I walk barefoot all the time when I’m not at work.

What is your stance on public displays of affection (PDA)?
I don’t really mind what other people do. I think if more people would show that they love each other a bit more love might be spread across the world.

Do you enjoy the Harry Potter series? Books or movies better?
Love Harry Potter! I prefer the movies and have them all at home.

The Black Knight:
How many pairs of running shoes do you "destroy" every year?
I’m actually quite light on shoes and get high mileage out of them. I usually go through four pairs every year, 3 x road and 1 x trail.

Beings your mum and Running Green Girl are approximately the same height, how tall are you?
I’m 1.71m. I think that’s about 5ft 6…?

When are you coming to run in my gorgeous, and steep, Colorado mountains? Pikes Peak 2012?
When the time and money is right I’m there! With the SA rand averaging 7 to the dollar it is not so easy.:( I have my eye on a few races that side so will have to choose carefully.

Shellyrm ~ just a country runner:
What are your long term running goals?
I have a lot of races I want to complete just once. There are some ultras and multi day events I’m very keen on. There are a few road 100 milers here in SA as well as the Augrabies Desert Challenge. The Namib Desert, Jungle Ultra, Leadville, Pikes Peak, ATY (across the years) and maybe one day Badwater. Money and time will unfortunately play its part too.

How do you think running/racing has improved your life and the lives of those around you?
Running has been a part of my life for many years. I’ve been running for 30 years now and my dad ran since I can remember. I can’t imagine my life without it. I can’t measure the quality of life that running has given me. Then there are all the people I know through running. They make it even better.

Have you ever been to Belgium?
No. Do you have any cool ultra races there?:)

What is your favourite food to cook?
I love making pasta and enjoy experimenting with various ideas. I usually make up my own recipes.

What and where is your favourite "eat out" food and restaurant?
To be honest I don’t like eating out. I choose eating at home any time. If I have to choose it would be any place that serves a good breakfast. Breakfast is definitely my favourite eat out food.

If you were able to read to here you deserve an ultra medal. Have a splendid weekend everyone!


Shawn said...

Most excellent Q & A!!!!!

Mike said...

The Q&A was pretty cool...thanks Johann!

misszippy said...

Thanks Johann. You are such an eclectic mix! From vet to IT! And I would LOVE to visit your country some day...you'll have to take me on a nice trail run when I get there!

wendy said...

This was so interesting! I especially find it so interesting how popular ultra running is. I didn't get my question in time, but I am wondering about the animals you come across when you are running. Any lions or tigers or elephants? Doesn't that scare you??? Nice to know a little more about you : )

Black Knight said...

A beautiful Q & A post.
Very interesting your answers about the political situation in SA. I have read many books, magazines and newspapers about the situation now and then in your beautiful Country (not only rugby).

Lauren said...

Very nice! I felt I got to know more of your personality with this blog entry. : )

Molly said...

loved reading more details about your life, if you ever come to the US, you're going to have to set up a massive blogger meet up! : )

Abby @ Have Dental Floss, Will Travel said...

We bike through a town in Peru last summer right at the Amazon River Basin - literally where the Andes meet the Amazon. It was incredible. A race there? Sign me up!

And looking forward to hearing your story someday :)

Chris K said...

This was really enjoyable Johann. I'm sorry I missed the Q's post. Your answer about us weird Americans was hilarious. And probably true. I guess I'm guiltier than most with my Coach, training plan, and previous strong desire to BQ. Luckily, you still love us.

Unknown said...

Lots of interesting tidbits here, Johann!
Two things that stuck out are: the comparison to American runners and how they don't make their own training plans...makes me wonder that constitutes making your own plan. I think for the most part- most do...or just run for fun- but lots in blogland have coaches because maybe they are more serious about improving, or find coaches by their blogs.

also- Very cool that you like to cook!

Christina said...

Love all the answers. thanks for sharing

Giorgio said...

Your Q & A post is a great idea! Thanks Johann, it's nice to share all those answers!
With regards to Richelle's question I hope you'll reach your "dream race" in Perù as soon as possible :)
Have a nice running weekend!

ajh said...

You are going to be doing some traveling and meeting some bloggers! I have never seen the ultra 100 in Vermont but my running partner's work friend does it so I hear a lot about it.

Char said...

A caeser on a fish? That's amazing! I was sort of thinking it'd be some game animal but you totally blew me away with that one.

Lesley Looper said...

What a fun post! Many thanks for sharing, Johann! You continue to be an inspiration!

Staci said...

Thanks Johan, loved reading your answers.
I hope all your dream races get to become a reality.

Black Knight said...

Sorry for SA but you were right, that was the n° 2 team.

Johann said...

Just a quick answer to Wendy's question about the animals. The areas where I generally run don’t have many predators, although leopards are everywhere. The times we run where really dangerous animals live are usually organized very well. I’ve come across rhino and elephant before and then just circle around far enough and very quietly. I must say I’m not afraid of any animals, bugs, snakes or whatever might be out there. I love them!

Lindsay said...

I loved getting to know you and life in SA more, thanks! I feel inadequate with my "marathon-only" achievements ;)

Very interesting career changes - vet to IT! Did you have to do a lot of schooling for them?

And of course, Id expect you to be my personal tour guide if I am ever able to make it to your country to visit! :)

We have some trail ultras here in South Carolina... Just FYI;)

Amy said...

Very fun to read all your answers! As for an ultra here in Belgium - the country is just too small! No, actually there are a few long distance walking events but I have never heard of someone running them - for example, the one that is really well known is the Dodentocht, which is 100 km to be completed in 24 hours... Maybe you could come and start a revolution here?

Teamarcia said...

I loved reading this and I can totally understand why Comrades is everyones dream race!