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

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Columbia Highveld Challenge Race Report

The Columbia Highveld Challenge was held east of Pretoria on Saturday, 28 July. I was entered for the 30km but due to some family commitments and the late start time of the event (09:00) I downgraded to the 21km on the day.

Rohann and I went to the race alone as Anette was sick in bed and everyone else had other commitments. We arrived with enough time for me to prepare and do all my pre-race rituals.

Pre-race rituals in progress...

Standing at the start became a bit of a story as the start was delayed due to a lot of runners arriving late. I’m not sure why we had to wait for them as it didn’t look as if they were arriving on the road where we had to run.

Waiting at the start.

The 21km was supposed to start at 09:10 and in the end we started at 09:25 with the sun already high in the clear skies. We were all happy to finally get going as we were all standing at the start from 08:50 for the race briefing.

Finally on our way!

The first 2km or so was run on a dirt road and the field could spread out nicely before we turned onto the trails. Some runners ran quite fast on this road section and when we turned off onto the trail I was 3rd from the back!

Onto the trails!

This didn’t bother me at all as I knew a lot of the runners would come back at me as we progressed. I could see there were a lot of people that were not very familiar with trail running in the race. These runners always start too fast and also battle to negotiate the more technical parts of the routes, so I always pass them later on. 

I was feeling good and in very good spirit as we started the first climb on the run. Life is good to me and being out on the trail in a race was, as always, very special. I love running on trails I’ve never been on! There was a fairly long and steady climb but the trail was good with only some rocks later on to make the going a bit harder. The view once at the top of the first climb was nice!

Great view from the top.

We then went onto some Jeep track before we started the first really technical bit of trail. On this trail I immediately started passing runners and this continued right to the end of the race. Yes, I passed people the whole time! I felt stronger and stronger as we progressed and had a really great run.

We ran on a bit of everything and I enjoyed that. Single track, Jeep track, dirt road and some more technical areas. A nice balance for a good trail run. At 9km there was a water point with some cool water in cups. I always drink at water points like this. It is nice to taste  water from a different source than my hydration pack.

Water point at 9km.

After the water point we ran on Jeep track for a while before turning onto another single track through some burnt grass. We are having a warm and very dry winter here in Gauteng and veldfires are very common.

Dry trail through the burnt grass.

The trail through the burnt area took us to the most technical part of the race. This was a climb down some rocks and over some sand to the bottom of the hill we were on…down to a railway line!

Railway line, awesome!

I am a model train fanatic and a bit of a train freak, so I was delighted! Yay! Running next to the railroad! Unfortunately no trains passed during this time but I was still having a ball.

Next to the railway!

Talking about having a ball…I was amazed at how good I was feeling. Not tired at all and finding the race really nice. I was passing other runners as I went along and never felt anything not good about the whole experience. Me, the route, everything was good!

At some stage we had to climb back up from the railroad and we headed back into the rocky ridges. This was a nice, technical section with some beautiful views. It was quite warm by now and I was glad I wasn’t doing the 30km run. Maybe the downgrade in distance lifted me mentally and that’s why I was feeling so good.

We ran passed a few dams during the last 5 to 6 km and at one we had to walk /climb on a concrete wall to get across. Things like this always adds to the fun for me.

Some fun at the dam.

From here the route was mainly on dirt roads and I could understand why some reviews I read from last year said it was nearly boring. The road felt endless and the finish never came, but I was still strong and happy.

At some point we ran through some trees and I realized it was the only shade I’ve been in since the start. Running here in summer would be testing.

Only shade on the 21km route...40m of it.

I kept moving along steadily and at some point caught up with two runners who were obviously not prepared for the course. It was a man and a woman and the guy was not carrying water or anything else. The girl had a small hydration pack but that could not have been enough even for one person. I offered the guy a Powerade I was not going to use and he gladly accepted it.

Then we had a long climb for the last 2km or so, climbing through some fences and gates. We were right in the middle of some cattle farms.

At last I saw Rohann running towards me and I knew the finish was close. It was great to see him there on the route! He is always the best supporter and not only for me, but for every runner that he sees. He always talks to every single person he happens to see.

Best supporter in the world!

Feeling great, but ready to finish.

After a quick few photos we ran on and Rohann told me I need to run all the way up to the next dirt road and then make a u-turn on the other side of the fence for the run into the finish. He climbed through the fence and waited for me to take a photo.

Nearly home!

Then we ran to the finish together and I was really very happy and feeling great. I was also happy I didn’t have to carry on for the 30km run. :D


I received my medal and felt good. Another successful race in the bag. Race number 1365 done and dusted. 635 to go…lol! It’s my 49th birthday today so I better get a move on!

Thanks for reading and happy running!

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Throwback Thursday

I celebrate 31 years of running this month and as we were talking the other night the topic of PB's or PR's came up.

Back in the day I was fast! Yeah right...! I've never been fast but I did find this photo of me finishing my best marathon...03:49 - January 1997.

Happy running everyone!

How long have you been running?

Friday, 20 July 2012

The 10km A Day Challenge

The 10km a day challenge was thrown at me via a local forum and I was quite eager to join the fun. What is it all about? To run an average of 10km a day for a year for a total of 3650km (2268 miles).

Mmmm… somehow 10km a day sounds easier than 3650km (2268 miles) a year. 70km (43.5 miles) per week doesn’t sound that much either. But is it doable?

The challenge is bigger than it might look. First of all most of us (normal people that we are)J don’t run 7 days a week. A lot of runners don’t even run 5 days per week. That makes the 70km per week a lot harder to keep up. Remember the challenge is 3650km for an average of 70km per week and an average of 10km per day. Obviously we all have weeks with more and weeks with less distance than that.

Anyway, I’ve taken up the challenge to run 3650km from 4 June 2012 to 3 June 2013. Why these dates? This is South Africa and everything running is done from Comrades to Comrades. That is the South African running year. J

My progress so far is:

Weeks done: 6
Weeks to go: 46
Km done: 426
Km required: 3224
Average per week: 71
Average required: 70.09

Week1:  84
Week2:  80
Week3:  83
Week4:  69
Week5:  56 (Includes Num-Num race)
Week6:  54 (Includes Num-Num recovery)

I’ve decided to share my progress on my blog as I find the challenge interesting and entertaining. I think it will help with motivation to keep me going. J

Speaking about motivation…Anette just published a blog about the topic.

Have a wonderful weekend everyone! Keep it going!

Monday, 16 July 2012

Springbok Vasbyt 10km Race Report

I decided to give myself a good recovery week after the Num-Num Challenge. This meant that I didn’t really plan to run a race this past weekend, but when my wife Anette was keen to run the 10km Springbok Vasbyt on Saturday I was very pleased. This gave us the opportunity to run our first race together!

The Springbok Vasbyt is a tough 25km and 10km race that includes a bit of road and some nice trails around the Voortrekker Monument in Pretoria. I love the race and was very keen to be there. We were really excited to be at the start together and knowing that we were going to run the race together made it even more special.

Happy to start and run together!

The start of this race is always something great and this year there was a fly over by the Harvard Club of South Africa. There was also the usual canon that made everyone jump and then we were off.

On our way!

The first 2km is on the road around the monument. This race is really hard so we decided that we would walk the uphills and run the rest. Anette is still building up her running and I think for this race it was the perfect approach.

Just before 3km we turned off the road onto a section that usually have a small dirt road. This year they cleared a wide area but left the grass that was cut lying on the ground. The grass was actually quite slippery and you had to run very carefully. It was also impossible to see what was on the ground beneath the grass.

This grass was slippery.

This was a nice downhill section but we ran it slowly as there were some hard climbs ahead. Anette was struggling to feel comfortable but going along well. She always takes some time to find her stride so I wasn't worried about it. I could see she was battling a bit but knew she would become stronger as we carried on.

After the section on the grass we turned onto a smaller gravel path that went uphill. This came out on a road that was going up really steep. Luckily there was a water point on this road. We got some water and coke and walked to the top of the hill. Here we turned onto a trail and almost immediately Anette found her stride!

This is some tough single track with a hard climb but we cruised over this part of the course. I was feeling great and I could see Anette was now also feeling the same way. I had to rush to keep up with her... :)

The trail climbs to a tower near its top and then joins a road again. We made excellent progress to the top, passing people all the way. Anette loves the trails and we were both smiling.

Anette now happy and in full stride!

The road takes you to the top of the hill where we ran through an old fort. The race is really unique and offers a bit of everything. We were in good spirits and enjoyed the second water point at the fort.

Running through the fort.

From here we ran down the hill on the road and Anette was feeling comfortable and relaxed now. We had a great time counting down the kilometers and our progress was good.

Me with the Voortrekker Monument in the background.

The race has one last sting in the tail which you hit in the second last kilometer. A tough climb on a trail. I remember this hill smacked me the first time I ran this race and I think it smacked Anette a bit too. It is steeper than it looks and comes at just the wrong point in the race. We walked the hill and I could see Anette was now ready to finish.

This last climb can be a killer.

With one kilometer to go the route goes into the grounds of the Voortrekker Monument and we ran around the monument inside the impressive wall. The stairs to get there were met with mixed feelings…

The very impressive monument.

Once around the monument it is downhill to the finish. We saw Staci (Sandal Girl) here and greeted her quickly. She had already finished her run and it was good to see her. Then we ran the last part and finished our first race together. It was awesome!

A tired Anette with me at the finish. Very happy!

Anette did great and I am very proud of her. I am sure we will run many races together in the years to come. This was a very hard 10km race and she handled it extremely well. It was also just the right run for me a week after the Num-Num Challenge.

I also enjoyed watching the other people at the back of the race that found the 10km a real challenge. I could see how everyone was giving their best and running at the best of their ability. I once again gained lots of respect for the people that finished their first ever 10km and some even their first race ever. Again…it was awesome!

Friday, 13 July 2012

Friday already?

I can't believe it's Friday already! The weeks are flying by! I don't have much new news but have a few more photos to share from the Num-Num race.

At the start...


From the race organizers...


In our goodie bag...

You can also read Anette's post about our weekend away on our family blog.

Have a super weekend everyone! Train well!