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

Friday, 30 July 2010

Trail Photo Friday

These are the official photos of the 4 races I ran in June in the Gauteng Winter Trail Series.

Race 1 – Segwati Ranch

Race 2 – Hennops River

Race 3 – Thaba Nkwe

Race 4 – Pelindaba

Race 4 – Pelindaba

On Sunday I’ll be running my first road race since 9 May. I can’t believe it’s been that long. This week is a cut back / easy week for me so I decided to do a half marathon on the road rather than a trail run with some heavy climbs. I think my legs might enjoy the break from the trails.

Next week is week 1 of 3 hard training weeks for the 50k race on 11 September. The three weeks will be 82, 84 and 90km respectively, including some long and tough trail runs. This means I’ll run the half marathon on Sunday super easy.

Take care everyone and have a fantastic weekend of running and relaxing!

Monday, 26 July 2010

Dog with a seizure and an amazing LSD trail run.

I had to cut my Sunday long run from 28.5km to 22.5km this weekend. Our one dog had some type of seizure in the early morning hours and this was actually quite scary. Needless to say my nine year old son got the fright of his life and didn’t sleep again after this. We were worried about poison as there have been reports of dogs being poisoned by would-be burglars in the local news papers.

Glad to say the little guy is fine again, although I have no idea what caused the seizure.

I had a 28.5km LSD trail run planned, but in the end I shortened this to 22.5km as it was getting very late. On the up side, I had a wonderful run! I ran at my favorite local nature reserve and got a good workout from the trails. My run included some tough climbs and very technical trails. My legs felt a bit tired as this was the 6th day of my 6 day running week. The splendid views and wildlife made me forget the tired legs very quickly.

Some tough technical climbs.

Winter is our dry season so fires are about as common as waking up every morning. Some parts of the trails were burnt, so I was really happy when I came across some Zebra about 9km into my run!

I also saw two Springbok here, but they ran off before I could take a photo…next time. From the zebras I ran for about 4km when I came across some Black Wildebeest and Blesbok. The picture below shows the Blesbok at the front with the Wildebeest further back. There was also some Springbok right at the back. You'll have to click the photo to enlarge it for a slightly better view...my running camera is not made for wildlife photography!

This lifted my spirits high and I enjoyed my run even more. I was heading towards some serious climbs and on my way there I saw some mongoose and Dassies (Hyrax). They were too fast for me and my camera. I also saw and heard numerous birds.

The next climb was tough but there were some beautiful aloes that kept me positive.

I was heading towards the top of a beautiful ridge. I realized I wasn’t drinking enough and decided to take a break once I reached the trees below the ridge. I had some water and a gel here. It was very peaceful and the sun was just perfect. I wanted to stay there a while longer but had to push on.

I was heading to the top of this ridge.

Trees where I had a lovely water and gel break.

After the final climb the views from the top made the hard work so worth it. Looking North I was reminded I was still in Johannesburg. The views to the South was stunning as well.

Johannesburg visible to the North.

Looking South.

Then it was time to head down again and the descent was hard on my legs. Going up is certainly tough, but going down certainly hurts more.

The descent was sore at times.

Once I joined the main trail below it was about 1km to my car. I felt great and would easily have done the extra 6km I planned, but it was late and I decided to go home to check on the dog. I’ll be back in two weeks for the 28.5km run.

I seriously have to invest in some brown/beige running socks!

Friday, 23 July 2010

Races and Goals

I’ve done it…I signed up for another tough, but beautiful race. This will be the Sani Stagger on 27 November. This is a marathon that is run on the Sani pass in the Drakensberg between South Africa and Lesotho.

The Sani Pass is a gravel road and people are advised to only travel it with 4x4 or other off-road vehicles. The marathon literally runs up to the top of the pass and back down again, an uphill half marathon followed by a downhill half marathon. The start/finish is at the Underberg golf course.

With the Mont-Aux-Sources 50km Challenge in September and the Sani Stagger in November I now have my main goals for the rest of the year sorted out. Both races are entered and paid for so there is no excuse or turning back.

I love these main goals. They give me purpose for the long term and helps with motivation when I’m not running other races. I’ll be doing other races still this year, about 10, but they will be part of my training for the main goals. That’s why I’ve added two countdown clocks to my sidebar...one for the next race and one for the next goal…all part of me psyching up myself.

So it’s training time! Saturday will be a short run with a LSD trail run of 28.5km (17.7 miles) on Sunday. I’m really looking forward to Sunday’s run on my favorite trails in my favorite nature reserve.

Have a lovely running weekend everyone!

Monday, 19 July 2010

Springbok Vasbyt 25 km Race Report

Venue: Voortrekker Monument, Pretoria, South Africa

As you could see from my previous post I was really excited about this race on Friday. Well, the race lived up to everything it promised and much, much more. It was a fantastic race and experience!

Saturday morning was very cold and it was -3°C (26.6F) when we left home. Pretoria is always a bit warmer than Johannesburg and Saturday was no exception. It was 0°C (32F) when we arrived at the venue. I should say it was 0° minus whatever the wind chill factor was. An absolutely icy wind was blowing at the start.

They promised, a bagpipe player, trumpeter, helicopter and canon and they delivered. The race commemorates fallen war heroes from the army and police and every year they dedicate the race to the fallen heroes of a specific battle or incident. This year the race was dedicated to the soldiers and policemen lost when Puma 164 was shot down on 5 September 1979.

There were 5 bagpipe players and a trumpeter from the Police force.

Bagpiper playing in memory of the fallen heroes.

Police trumpeter playing the last call.

Four Harvard planes flew over followed by the last flying Puma of the SA air force. I missed a photo of the Harvards, but got one of the Puma.

There was a minute silence while runners waited for the start. This was followed by a huge blast from a WWII canon to signal the start of the race. Everyone jumped a few feet in the air when the canon was fired and some woke up again!

The start "gun".

Then we were off, running a race that was already very special. It was cold and I had my gloves on for the first 8km. The route is a combination of road and trail and I must say I really enjoyed this. The first part is fairly easy and I thought at some point the race was not as hard as advertised. There were a few climbs, but nothing serious at this stage.

Happy to be running another lovely race.

View to the North.

Runners were encouraged to keep the nature areas clean.

The first 18km were fairly easy with no technical trail and some tar road as well as lots of gravel road. The water points were well stocked and marshals as well as volunteers were very friendly and keen to help the runners.

On the gravel road.

Water point with friendly staff.

With 9km to go we ran underneath one of the main roads in a storm water way. Someone remarked that luckily no rain was forecast for the area.

9km to go, going under the road. This was an out and back section including a 2km loop.

Returning after completing the loop. Watch your head!

Then, with 7km to go, the race suddenly lives up to its reputation of being one of the harder races around. Once we passed under the road on our way back we started the first main climb. With 18km already behind us, I could feel the hills immediately. I think I might have still been a little weak from the stomach bug I had a week ago as well, but looking at the runners around me I think it is just a very tough race. Everyone was struggling up the hills.

With 7km to go the race shows its true colors.

Even the tar road wasn’t easy anymore.

The trail was now not so easy anymore, as we went up and up and up. Everyone around me was battling and getting very quiet.

We were going up Schanskop, a hill with an old fort, Fort Schanskop, at the top. The climb up here is well known by locals and some runners come here regularly for hill training. The fort is now a museum and I wondered if we would get to see it on our run. We joined the road for the final part of the climb and then my question was answered. We did not only see the fort, we ran right through it! I really enjoyed this, what a special race!

Final climb to the top.

Top of Schanskop.

Into the fort!

Running through Fort Schanskop, really great!

We then started our descent from the hill running on the road, back to the Voortrekker monument.

The descent on the road was steep in some places and I felt my quads complaining with a few other parts of my body also hurting. Yes, they were right; this is a very tough race, but a wonderful experience at the same time. With about 1.5km to go there was another sting in the tail, a last climb up a trail to make sure we didn’t forget the trail parts before we finish.

A final sting in the tail.

Then we were back on the hill of the Voortrekker monument. We ran past the South African Defence Force wall of remembrance and I took some time here, remembering some of my own friends who fell during battle when we were in the army. Indeed this race was special.

The next thing I saw...remember...1km to go!

But then, around the corner, a final surprise! “Up the stairs you go”, the marshal told me, “you get to run around the monument”. Stairs, with 24km behind me? Looking up at the monument I realized these stairs were nothing. Running around the monument was yet another fantastic experience. The stairs were part of the experience and I was happy to climb them (slowly) and ran into the monument wall of ox wagons. Fantastic!

Some stairs to climb after 24km.

Inside the ox wagon wall - fntastic!

Once around the monument it was down the stairs (slowly) and then downhill to the finish. I turned for my final approach towards the finish.


I finished in 03:17, tired, but very happy and feeling very good. I must have lost about 10 minutes taking photos. I don’t mind this as I was looking for time on the legs anyway. The race gave me everything I could ask for and much more. I received my medal and a lovely piece of fudge. Well, my son said it was lovely fudge…


Medal...the fudge was long gone.

This was one of the best races I’ve ever experienced and I’ll be back next year for sure!

These and more photos can be viewed here.