Thursday, April 24, 2014

Discovering new roads - in my 'hood

For my weekly long run with Rob, I thought I'd take him on roads that I haven't run for ages. I had in mind a route through Bruma and into Observatory to find a big open park that I've run past before and which we saw from the Scottish War Memorial in Kensington last week.

So, we headed through to Bruma and then got meandering on wickedly steep roads on the side of Linksfield Ridge - the suburb is probably Cyrildene. I haven't run some of those roads for years and some of them I've never run. It's an old suburb with huge, established oak trees. Autumn is here and winter is coming.

A highlight was discovering a single-lane, winding road leading down the ridge on the other side. Lovely evening light, great view... photo op!

When we took the winding road down we were kinda committed to a route home from the other side of the ridge.

Rob says, "Should we just run around?".

I reply, "Yes".

It's actually quite a distance to run around; always further than you think. But we were coming at it from a more favourable direction - one that, I think, has a bit more downhill gradient, which I was very grateful for after the nasty steep hills on the other side.

Into the groove with seeking out new roads, we found a beautiful, quiet road that I've never run before. Nice properties to gawk at and a decent look at the crazy-big, North-facing houses on the Ridge. And then we found this striking succulent growing outside a house. An abundance of it. In the evening light it looked magnificent!

17-kilometres after setting out we returned, in the dark, to my door.

A bit of adventure, some new terrain... this was one of those really great runs.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Ryno and Cobus at AR Club (Tues, 6 May 2014)

Back in 2010, adventure racers Ryno Griesel and Cobus van Zyl set a Drakensberg Grand Traverse record of 60 hours 29 minutes. Later that year, in his talk at FEAT, Cobus predicted the theoretical fastest possible time at around 40 hours. Four years later, Ryno - with trail runner Ryan Sandes - covered the 209-kilometre distance in an incredible, record-setting 41 hours 49 minutes.

 At this special Adventure Racing Club evening, Ryno and Cobus speak about how their years of experience in adventure racing and trail running came together to make this new record possible. Cobus was integrally involved with the scouting, planning and logistics behind this record-setting run. He put in weeks of work to help Ryno and Ryan break a record that he set. They'll tie their experiences at DGT with what adventure racers can take away from this extraordinary adventure.

Join us for an evening of insights and experiences together with visuals of their custom maps, photos from the mountains and video clips.

 Date: Tuesday, 6 May 2014
Time: 18h30 for 19h00
Venue: Kinetic Gear at the Exercise and Nutrition Centre, cnr North and Rivonia Roads, Rivonia.
Enquiries: Lisa -

National Orienteering Training Camp (and Night O adventure)

I spent this long, Easter weekend in the beautiful forests of Kaapsehoop as one of the coaching team for our National Orienteering Training Camp. Here we had 20 orienteers from our Senior, Junior and Youth squads and we took them through a variety of skills activities to prepare them for selection for the World and Junior Orienteering Champs. I was assigned to 'Warm-up activities and Games' and I gave assistance where needed with the various groups.

Pics from Day 1 (Friday)
For the warm-up games I created a couple of new ones, related to the skill being coached in the session. Others were just for silly fun - like Bing-O and the pre-warmup warm-up silly songs. Wearing a different wig/hat each day to set the silliness, we boogied to 'Hokey Pokey', 'The Chicken Song' and 'Head, shoulders, knees and toes'.

I had an extra fun day on Saturday when I filled in as a runner in the forest relay and then ran at night in the Night O.

Pics mostly from Sunday.
For the relay we were put into pairs and I was teamed up with the very fast and capable Junior runner, Timothy. It feels weird calling a young man that I have to look up at a 'Junior'. He's 17 and is in matric this year. Tim shot off first - he ran the first and third legs; I took the second and fourth. I think we ended up in second. Every time I found myself walking uphill I'd think, "Tim is waiting for me!".

My navigation was spot on; I had great direct lines, even though the 'green' sections of map where you can't even see 10-metres ahead.

The Night O stands out as one of the highlights of my 15 years of orienteering. I love navigation. I love running and I love running at night. Can't go wrong really.

From the coaching side of things, Night O isn't just a fun night activity. It forces you to concentrate for extended periods (I was out for about 1h20) - serious concentration. It also eliminates information from your surroundings because it is pitch black out there and you can't see that far ahead. Also, you see little peripherally - only what is illuminated by your headlamp beam. You have to focus on compass work and direct line of travel, on defining what features are important and what are not and you have to be accurate.

On one control I was on the 'wrong' side of a fallen-over tree trunk. I didn't see the control flag. I walked about 10m further and knew I was too far. Turning around I saw another runner who had, by then, come up behind me and he'd hit the right side of the trunk to find the flag. Seeing him definitely helped.

The rest of my controls... I totally rocked it. The kick! The euphoria! The sense of satisfaction! More than once I'd stumble (stumble being the totally correct word) through bushy baby pine trees (double my height) growing below their parents on the forest floor, over rocky, pine-needle covered terrain and straight on to my control. I did whoop a few times.

What made this activity even more rewarding is that this was the first time that I've done technical orienteering navigation in the dark. Night park events, Metrogaine... these are child's play. A forest in the pitch dark... now that really is the ultimate night orienteering fun. An even more challenging forest in Europe... oh my goodness - sign me up!

Another highlight of the weekend for me was the silly warm-up before the Night O. I had the original 'Hokey Pokey' song saved on my mobile and I hooked up my little speaker. So there we were standing in a circle, on a forest road, in the pitch dark, headlamps on. The song started up and we followed the instructions putting arms in, hips out, bums in, legs out... What made this extra fun was that under cover of dark, inhibitions were abandoned, especially by the teens, and everyone totally got into this silly party-classic song.

Photos from Monday morning - mostly from the fun Star Relay.
Our orienteering youngsters are a really good bunch and I thoroughly enjoyed hanging out with my friends and fellow coaches, Nic, Zig and Tania too as well as the other helpers Stephanie, Ant, Paul and Glynn. We were spoiled with superb catering by Cally throughout the weekend and you just can't go wrong staying in the sweet town of Kaapsehoop and blessed with four days of perfect weather.

I hope to crack the nod for next year's camp too ;)

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Street running at Metrogaine Jo'burg

I get such a kick out of organising the Metrogaine Jo'burg events because there are so many great aspects to it.

Looking for interesting control sites can be a challenge in some neighbourhoods. Luckily the Parktown / Rosebank area and surrounds have houses with interesting gates, walls and sidewalk gardens.

I also enjoy turning these features into clues with funny (ha ha) answers (or funny clues with funny answers). I probably start with about 80-90 control locations and then I cull them as I see the checkpoint distribution taking shape and where I want to guide (or lure!) the runners to. I only have space on the clue sheet for 55 clues and I'm limited in points allocation - only 10 controls per points allocations (20s, 30s etc). I think this was one of my better points distributions. While planning I saved my working file to show you the points distributions with colour.

And then there's the map-drawing part. It really is good (time-consuming) fun to create maps. I think that this was my finest map, with its doodle illustration - thanks to a great suggestion from Robyn to include a doodle.

A new addition to Metrogaine are crowns for the winners of the 90-minute and 60-minute courses. It looks like these are going to be much-coveted items. I'm not big on prize givings so the crowns also serve to differentiate the course winners from the rest of the participants.

Lucky Miya and Michael Crone (90-min winners) and Sarah Pope (60-min winner; Sarah’s teammate Magi Lingnau had already left when this photo was taken!). Metrogaine, where a bit of silliness is very welcome. *grin*
The weather was a bit wonky in the late afternoon with an odd drizzle. Thank goodness it cleared up beautifully but still some pairs didn't show. Nonetheless 76 very enthusiastic and eager pairs did participate. They looked fabulously bright in their colourful clothing, reflective bibs and headlamps.

I had help from a wonderful bunch of friends - they really made the evening smooth and efficient. And they're great company too.

There's a write-up with links to results on the AR Club website about the event.

Next one looks to be 18 June - on my birthday. Will confirm details as soon as I know.