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

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

The Difficult Decisions are Usually the Right Ones to Make

I made a very difficult decision this morning. I will no longer run the Golden Gate Challenge this weekend. It was not easy to do this but I know it was the right decision.

Don’t worry, nothing is wrong and I’m not injured. I just don’t feel I’m ready. I know most people will say go for it and you will be ok and so on, but this is different. I know I am only 80% ready for this and because it is a 3 day race away from home, I have decided not to go and get myself into trouble. I’m listening to my body telling me I should give it a break from a heavy race that can break it down completely.

I’ll be honest, some of this has to do with my bad mugging experience of a few weeks ago. I decided that day to keep things closer to home for a while. This doesn’t mean I won’t do any away races. If I was 100% ready and the race was not as challenging, I would have been there. However, I am not ready to have my loved ones worry about me all the time. We all realized that day how we must treasure every moment together. Having them worry about me for three days does not feel right to me.

Anyway, enough babbling. I don’t feel ready for this race and decided to rather give it a skip. I have already adjusted my training for my next goal, the RAC Tough One (32km/20miles) on 27 November.

Happy running everyone!

Friday, 21 October 2011

Foto Friday

With the Golden Gate Challenge happening next week I thought I’d share a photo of my first visit to Golden Gate National Park with you. In 1964 I went there the first time, not to run, not hike, but to ride some horses!

I was born a natural in the saddle…


Happy Friday everyone!

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

2011 Soutgate 15km Race Report

This past Sunday I ran the Southgate 15km race. I like to support this race as it is one of the few close to home races for me every year. I always try to support the local running clubs.

I ran this race as a training run at the end of a fairly hard training week to end the week on a total of 89.7km (55.7miles), so time or pace did not matter at all.

The race started at 6:30 and I was glad it was only a short drive.

Waiting at the start.

It was a beautiful morning and I knew it was going to be a warm day. The early start was appreciated by everyone. After a short chat with some friends at the start we were on our way.

On our way!

I did a 22.5km trail run the day before and was keen to see what my legs would feel like. I was happy that they weren’t sore in any way and just a little tired on the hills.

Beautiful morning in the suburbs.

The route goes through all the areas where I grew up and that is another reason why I like to run this race. Many parts of it runs on roads that were my training routes many years ago.

I was baptised in this church 48 years ago. Nice to run here!

The first 7km of the race is flat with some downhill. From here to about 11km is a steady climb with one or two hills testing runners a bit. I was feeling good but could certainly feel the week’s training on the hills. I never looked at my watch during the race and just ran comfortably all the way. Soon I reached 11km and the hills were something of the past.

11km done and the hills behind us.

I felt good but knew I was running quite slow. I guessed my pace at about 6:30min/km. Overall I was happy that I had no problems or niggles anywhere after a week of solid training. I was happy with my run and just cruised over the last 3km.

A last little bump over a bridge.

Then over the finish line.

I was a little slower than I thought 6:32min/km and finished in 1:38. I guessed I would finish in 1:36. The legs were probably a little more tired from the trails I did on Saturday. I still love that I am able to run a race without ever looking at my watch. Overall I’m pleased and feel training and running is going well for me. We received a carry bag and medal for the effort. All was good and I was back home at 08:45 again.

Bag and medal to show off.

I only saw later when I logged this race that I reached a mini milestone on the day. This was my 350th 15km race and my total number of races now stand at 1358.

Thanks for reading! Run well my friends!

Monday, 10 October 2011

Golden Gate Challenge Preview

Before I get to the preview I just want to thank everyone for there feedback and advice regarding the walking poles. I’ve decided to go without them because I have not been training with them. I’ve done quite ok without walking poles on many mountains before and I’m sure I will be fine.

Now on to the Golden Gate Challenge…


This is a three day stage race that is run on 28, 29 and 30 October. Registration and pre-race briefing is at 18:30 on 27 October. I will be sleeping in the runner’s village in my allocated two man tent. This will be our base camp and we run a different route from here every day. This will basically be a run to the top of a different mountain every day. Distances are 27km, 27km and 17km for a total of 71km.

Watch out for….
  • Ticks – please search all possible places for these little buggers!
  • Mountain edge: there are some big mountains and sometimes the trail go close to the edge so please be mindful and careful
  • Rocks – enough of these around, lift those feet!
Heat & Dehydration –drink enough and bring some sunscreen. Please note that Day 1 is very remote and you will be without water between the checkpoints for a long time – hence the compulsory equipment rule for a Camelback or water bottles.

The route description are from the race organizer.

Day 1: 27km

Route Description: Taking on Ribbok Trail

Today you will follow the very well known Ribbok Hiking Trail – 27km’s of pretty magical stuff but also hard work! We thought we’ll get the hardest day of the 3 out of the way – so take it easy there are some big mountains waiting for you!

Look out for some waterfalls, rock pools, Eland, Ribbok and loads of other game! (Unfortunately we will not be able to take you through Cathedral Cave due to it being really unsafe) The route is narrow and some places really rocky so watch your step.

You have two relatively big climbs, the biggest one of the two is right at the start - Generaalkop! Other nicknames such as Kneebrake, Moedbreek, Hartbreek and Inbreek should give you an indication of what this mountain is all about! All I can say is one step at a time.... and it’s pretty good getting to the other side of the mountain and into the valley!

The second half is a bit easier but know that you still have some climbing to do before descending into the rest camp. It is not nearly as hard as the first climb, but it will definitely test the legs. The route will also take you over the legendary Brandwag mountain that is signature to Golden Gate.

Day 2: 27km

Route Description: Exploring little Serengeti

So today we will start off with a bit of a drive to the start but as with all things the bigger the effort the bigger the reward! An hour bus trip will take us right to the other “unexplored” side of the park. The side where hikers and public are not allowed....except for you off course. So please bear with us on the bus, the road is bumpy!

I'm not gonna talk too much about the start as I'm sure many of you will so hate me for the first 5km’s, but then again I’ll be heading back to the Race Village and you will have about 22km’s to cool down! The start is hard. Big rocky climb to the top. ...but once at the top “Welcome to the Little Serengeti”. You will be greeted by herds of Zebra, Eland, Bontebok, Hartebeest, Wldebeest....as far as you can see. Vast mountains and rolling hills awaits as you meander your way around the park.

Old Jeep track and management roads will make the running a bit easier and will be a welcome treat after Day 1’s single track only running!

At about 15km’s you will take a turn towards the Highlands Mountain Retreat where you will take on some single track and some good climbing. Once at the top you will have the best view ever of the whole park and you can look forward to a long downhill all the way home!

Day 3: 17km

Route Description: Just love the sunrise! For every up there’s a down...

Waky waky, rise and shine!

It’s up and then down..... A bigger uphill and bigger downhill I’m sure you’ll never find on any race, but then again so is the views. We’re taking you right to the top 2 438 m!

Yep it’s a big climb to the top, a bit down, a bit up again and then you can enjoy the best sunrise right on top of the mountain. Your breakfast Watertable will await you here – so take some time, breath easy and just love life!

As you make your way down the mountain you can truly look forward to a well deserved event trophy as you just conquered one of the hardest trail runs in the country....

Enjoy Breakfast!

So that is it for the route descriptions. I’ll post more details and a bit about my preparations for this race. I can’t wait and really think this will be a fantastic adventure.

Have a great week everyone!

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Walking/Trekking Poles


I am in the process of preparing for the Golden Gate Challenge, a three day mountain race at the end of the month. I recently received the final race information which includes a list of “what to bring”.

What to bring:
  • Headlight for Day 3 (compulsory)
  • Bright Waterproof light weight jacket (Compulsory in misty conditions)
  • Whistle (compulsory equipment)
  • Warm sleeping bag & sheet for the mattress
  • Hydration System (Camel Back) (Compulsory equipment for Day 1. No less than 2L)
  • Sunscreen
  • Walking poles – recommended (some steep ascents and descents)
  • Extra socks – might be a good idea to carry a pair of dry socks in your backpack. There are some river crossing on some of the days and it might be wise to change socks after these.
  • Sense of humor :)
I have all the items on the list except the walking poles. I have never used walking poles before and don’t know if I should invest in a pair or not. I believe they are easy to carry when not in use and should not be a problem.

Any advice? Have you ever used walking poles?

Thanks and happy running everyone!