Friday, 30 September 2011

FEAT Award

I wish I could claim it as my idea; but I can't. I adopted the concept of the FEAT Award from the Mountain Club's 'Supertramp Award' and Ranulph Fiennes' Transglobe Expedition Trust.

FEAT Award doesn't have an age limit, which Supertramp does; and it is South African focused with a smaller budget and limited to human-powered disciplines, which TET isn't.

I initiated FEAT Award earlier this year. In short, it celebrates an adventurous spirit by contributing to making an adventure possible. Straight-up cash is often a limiting factor in getting an adventure off the ground. It is comparatively easier for people to get products sponsored or reduced prices from suppliers but financial contributions are few. Most adventurers bite the bullet and load their credit cards to make their adventure happen; a bit of cash helps to ease the load.

What am I looking for in an adventure application for this FEAT Award?

Well, it isn't any one thing. I'm not interested in international relations, AIDS orphans, rhinos or any other tag-ons; that's the adventurer's personal thing, not FEAT's. I'm also not interested in post-expedition book deals, dvds, blogging, tweeting and such. I also don't really care if it is a first to do something or a speed or distance attempt. I'm just looking for an interesting concept. Unlike most sponsors, FEAT is in it completely for the physical adventure.

Something I ask myself when considering the applications is, "Would I expect a sponsor for fund me if I was doing this adventure?". The answer is often no because adventures are often more like 'holidays' and why should a sponsor pay for your holiday? Also, it depends on the sponsor. There may be something in it for a product sponsor but if you're more general... many adventures are nice but they're not applicable.

Another aspect is looking at how well the adventure fits in with the FEAT mix as the recipient will speak at the next FEAT. Can the audience relate? Will they enjoy the topic and the sporting discipline?

So, it was with these in mind that the recipient was selected. They'll only be announced next week at FEAT. It's quite a fun adventure and I'm sure they'll have a super trip.

I've just sent out this release: "FEAT Award: And the winner is..."

I'm sure people at FEAT next week are going to have their brains crunching on adventures to submit for the next FEAT Award consideration. Good! That's what I want.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Bits and bobs

Oh my goodness - been a non-stop few weeks since Fish River Canyon Ultra and with FEAT in little over a week... If you haven't got your tickets yet, book 'em soon-soon through Computicket. R140. FEAT is on Thurs, 6 Oct.

Lemon curd
I like lemon curd. Really like the stuff. My mom's friend, Ros, makes it and over the years I've been very fortunate to get a jar here and there. I've been in the mood for it so I asked Ros for her recipe, which is actually her mom's recipe. There's a funny story behind this. In Ros' words:
"When my mom died, I made lemon curd for the old dears for whom she used to make it – according to her recipe with a double boiler, etc. They were appreciative but pointed out that it was not entirely up to my mother’s standard. Once I started using this recipe [and making it in the microwave], they said that I had finally made some curd as good as my mother’s. I didn’t ever tell them the awful secret." 
I've made a good number of jars of the stuff now (I've eaten lots but I've also given a few batches away) and have experimented with lemon, lemon-orange combo, strawberry and pineapple. Although I'm not big on straight-up strawberries ('raw'), I do like them in stuff and strawberry juice. As for strawberry curd - delicious! Pineapple tastes great but the consistency isn't right - I think I put in too much juice (I borrowed my dad's juicer for this and other projects).

Wiki says:
"Fruit curd is a dessert spread and topping usually made with lemon, lime, orange or raspberry. The basic ingredients are beaten egg yolks, sugar, fruit juice and zest which are gently cooked together until thick and then allowed to cool, forming a soft, smooth, intensely-flavored spread. Some recipes also include egg whites and/or butter.
In late 19th and early 20th century England, home-made lemon curd was traditionally served with bread or scones at afternoon tea as an alternative to jam, and as a filling for cakes, small pastries and tarts.
Curds are different from pie fillings or custards in that they contain a higher proportion of juice and zest, which gives them a more intense flavor.Also, curds containing butter have a smoother and creamier texture than both pie fillings and custards. Additionally, unlike custards, curds are not usually eaten on their own."
I laugh at the last sentence. I've only ever eaten it from the jar, on its own... One of my plans with learning to make lemon curd was to use it for something; in a dessert, cake or tart. This is yet to be done. My dad has a granadilla (passion fruit) plant. We're going to pulp and juice them when they're ready and I'm gonna make tons of passion fruit curd.

Cookin' up a storm
You know how the weeks flash past and then you realise that you haven't seen people for months? Got a friend over for lunch about two weeks ago and got excited about trying out a new recipe or two. I really like Pick 'n Pay's Fresh Living magazine. Neat, tidy and super recipes (great photographs) that are simple in their ingredient requirements and always current with products actually available. It's also a cheap buy at R13.95.

One of my new discoveries is a roasted beetroot pasta dish. I boil the beetroot first to reduce roasting time and to skin them before roasting. Once they're ready, mix up a 'vinaigrette' of lemon juice, balsalmic vinegar, olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast. (they roast with cloves of garlic; I add only a little crushed garlic as I'm not big on garlic). Then, when cooked, zing in a food processor until smooth.

Add to cooked pasta (I favour spaghetti 'cos I like the shape) and mix well. Pasta turns bright red! Beetroot sauces shouldn't be as much a sauce as a coating - red pasta with bits of puree beetroot here and there.They add the beetroot leaves to the cooking pasta for the last few 1-2 mins to soften; and these get mixed in (my beetroot were leafless). Crumble ricotta cheese over it to serve. I made this as an accompaniment, not a main dish.

First O map
I created my first O map for the AltX Sports Expo, which happened this past weekend. I've known the theory of making an O map for ages; it's another story actually doing it. As maps go, mine is ok. I only had one site outing so there are a number of sections requiring details and footwork; and there are some elements that can be removed as they're unnecessary. This is the challenge of mapping. Always to remember that terrain is mapped according to runability and also that maps are representations, not exact replicas...
I used only a small section of this for an O activity at the expo but am hoping that we'll get to use my map next year. Area is nice and big for a colour-coded event but not sufficiently technically challenging. So, it may be well suited to a night event perhaps? Have rotated map to fit nicely here. North is to the right.

If I had to use two words to describe mapping 'time consuming' would work well. But it can also be described as 'immensely satisfying'.

AltX Sports Expo
This new Alternative and Extreme Sports Expo took place this weekend. I was meant to be there with a few hats on but ended up only really with my orienteering hat on. I set out two grid courses (to teach people how to orientate their maps) and had a short and a longer O course.

The Expo was sadly poorly attended. Friday was certain to be quiet because of it being a work day, it was miserable weather on Saturday - it even drizzled; and Sunday was lovely weather but low attendance. Some people said the R80 entrance fee was too steep, which I can see if you bring along a whole family. I think that the expo lacked structure with not having a fixed schedule of activities and displays.

The venue was brilliant; the air, urban, water and wheels arenas were an excellent idea; and the main stage was definitely the best set up I've ever seen but was abused by having the power lifters there for so long with their ongoing Rammstein music (only a few songs that seemed to be on repeat; and that one good 'song' wasn't even played). It really was an impressive stage and I'd love to see a really dynamic night-time programme utilising it (in addition to daytime activities).

I do hope that the Expo will be around next year and this time with more structure to it; fixed workshops, talks and activities. There's definitely a place for it and the concept is a really good one.

Suzie Q and Toby J pole workshop
I ducked from the Expo on Sunday afternoon to go to this advanced pole workshop. Whoop-whoop, what a winner. My plan with attending this workshop was to learn to do moves that I couldn't do so that I'd have stuff to work on for weeks. My wish was fulfilled and my arms are stiff! I was ok yesterday and I taught class last night but today I'm really feeling it. Really super to meet Suzie Q and Toby J. They're unbelievably strong and it is really a treat to watch them doing moves and making them look effortless, which they're aren't. They did a couple of doubles moves with us, which was fun. I have only done very little.

A handstand on Tarry's back.
Me, Dina and Tarryn with Suzie Q and Toby J.
It's the Miss Pole SA competition on 7 October. Tarryn and Dina will be taking part in the duets division. Girls, I'll be there cheering for you. xxx

After the pole workshop I zipped off to catch the tail-end of an acroyoga workshop and learned a bit of stuff in the limited time.

New crochet project
After finishing off the granny square blankie I didnt' touch my hook and yarn for over a week because I had so much other stuff on the go. But I've been itching to make something. Anything. Love the colours and the transformation from a length of yarn into something. I've got a bunch of leftover yarn from the blankie so a few nights ago I started on this. The big reveal when I'm done. I'm only doing about three rows a night so it will take me a few weeks still.

Fish River Canyon Ultra
I wrote a blog about my run shortly after it (a month ago already!) and was delighted to received this photo, taken by Timmy, yesterday. It really gets across the beautiful day and lovely calm of the canyon (and boulders, boulders, boulders). I've set it as my desktop background.

Filling up with water during the Fish River Canyon Ultra.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Up and around the pole

Ooohhh.... I am so super-mega excited. On Sunday afternoon I'm participating in an advanced pole workshop with one of my favourites, Miss Suzie Q. Graceful and strong, she's incredible. Good dance background and she does a lot of aerial stuff like trapezee and those aerial hoops and such. Her doubles partner, Toby J, will also be instructing at the workshop. Yes, guys also do pole. There's even a men's category in the big competitions.

My favourite Suzie Q video, from Miss Pole Dance Australia 2006 isn't on YouTube anymore. There are lots of others but video quality of most is really, really terrible. Her 'Lara Croft' themed dance from Miss Pole Dance Oz 2008 is ok quality - not great.

My favourite-favourite, who I only discovered earlier this year, is a lass Oona Kivela. She has just won the first  Pole Dance World Cup, which was held in Rio (only been doing pole for three years - same as me!). I don't know her background but can bet that it is sure to be ballet and gymnastics. This woman is strong and flexible and agile. Without putting you on a pole you just don't cannot get how hard the stuff that she is doing so fluidly really is. She makes it look easy. It isn't. Sure, I can do some of these moves, but mostly in isolation. Not one after another after another with such speed. And some I can sorta do. I say 'sorta' because I can do them but not half as well as Oona (I can't do the splits). And then others I cannot do at all - not strong enough, not flexible enough... I really like that Oona dances in barefeet and not in ho'heels, which puts this sport in the other commonly associated perspective.

Watch and enjoy the acrobatic, gymnastic and athletic elements of this incredible sport, thanks to Oona.

Oh-oh-goodness... just found this. Yeah, ballet and gymnastics. Really nice little interview with Oona.

Kinetic Adventure: AR girls in front

A quick one - I'm under the whip at the moment with AltXSports Expo this weekend (Fri to Sun) FEAT in two weeks... At the Expo I'm doing some talks and running an orienteering activity - to introduce people to this fabulous sport. And yes, I drew the map. My first O map. I'm using about 1/8th of the map (probably less!) for the little O activity. Area is too easy for a colour-coded and too big to be 'wasted' on a sprint. Maybe a Night O next year?

A super Kinetic Adventure (25km AR) on Sunday with Vicky and Sarah making up our Team AR all-girls team. Nice to race with Vix again and first time time Sarah.

With 'my' girls. Sarah on the left, Vix on the right. Me = piggy-in-the-middle

A longer mtb section this time than usual, which was actually really nice; also nice run/O sections.  Really lovely area - Cradle of Humankind, near the Sterkfontein Caves. We cycled through a lovely little nature/game reserve. Only saw some bokkies (buck) as we were cycling out - at high speed. We hadn't been in the reserve for long when Sarah, a fellow orienteer, says, "Mmmm... looks me like this place would make a nice MTB O map". Orienteers! Can't take them anywhere.

On this, I've hooked up with Sarah for the annual rogaine in later October. I had wanted to run in a girls team but with my usual buddy out with a foot injury I'd hooked up with Tony. And then, at Kinetic on Sunday, Alec's son Greg was looking for a rogaine partner and I learned that Sarah was not yet connected. So, a swop happened. Would have been super to race with Tony but, realistically for the MTB O the day after the foot rogaine - as he's riding so well - Tony will have a far more competitive ride with Greg.

Back to Kinetic... must say, we all seem to prefer the old format where teams would alternate disciplines but could choose the order of the legs themselves i.e. cycle 2, then run 1, then cycle 1 and then run 2. I like not being on the same course as the other team and not knowing where anyone is.

The 5th and final Kinetic Adventure of the year is in late November. We've won three of the four so far (second at the 3rd one) and I hope we'll bag the last one too. Team AR has won the series in 2009 and 2010.

Ahhh... we got the most fabulous trophy. A little wire and bead dude. He has his hands up so that you can put a photo between them. I don't hang on to most trophies for very long. But this guy, he stays. What an excellent idea.

My thanks to Heidi and Stephan for a super race and for encouraging all-girls teams. We have a blast out there.

Monday, 12 September 2011

My kind of 'Hollywood'

Yesterday I spent the day at a Salomon do. They've got a roadshow thing happening (in Durbs next and then CT) and they've brought out Kilian Jornet and Anna Frost (superb skyrunner), joining Ryan Sandes, who is now home after his recent Leadville 100 victory. These three are members of Salomon's team of international athletes. It was also a super opportunity for me to meet local runner Linda Doke in person; we've chatted on email but had never met before. She's one of Salomon's local runners. Same with Ryan, who I'd never met in person.

I've been following Kilian's running for some time now. He's had this thing going for a while, Kilian's Quest, where he slams records on courses left, right and centre. One I really enjoyed following was when he ran the 165-mile (264 kilometres) Tahoe Rim Trail. He was paced by a guy who I know, Adam Chase (an ARer and also Salomon team runner), and they had super online live coverage. Kilian's new record of 38 hours 32 minutes bettered the previous record by seven-and-a-half hours!

Watching some of the video clips of Kilian running... better than poetry; better than dance; better than music... beautiful.

He a youngster - only 23 (turning 24 later this month). He grew up in the mountains and spends six months of the year skiing (winter) and the other six running. I've seen on a site that he's a World Champ ski mountaineer too (multiple world champ).

He's fresh from winning Tour du Mont Blanc and, before that, Western States 100. The achievements that this guy has notched... quite phenomenal.

Last year Kilian set a new speed record for Kilimanjaro ascent: 7 hours and 14 minutes to run from base camp to Uhuru Peak and back in 7 hours, 14 minutes and back. The previous record was held by Tanzanian ultra runner and mountain guide Simon Mtuy in 8 hours, 27 minutes.

Kilian is, as you would expect, a small guy. He's lean and small built. It's always cool seeing these runners in person; they look average sized in photos - well proportioned, athletic - but they're really smaller in reality, as befits the sport.

The Kilian's Quest videos on the Salomon site are fabulous to watch and, if you're going to watch anything, do watch this teaser video for Season 3. In this season Kilian goes back to the roots of mountain running - and the videos are online, linked from the page above.

Salomon team and crew, thank you for a lovely day yesterday.

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Blanket done

I feel like this has taken me forever; especially the phase of stitching the squares together and then the border. Some nights only half a row; other night nothing. But, it is done now. My first blanket.

I'm thinking of adding some simple crochet flowers to some of the joins between squares... still to decide. I'll leave it lying around while I think about it and before I give this colourful children's blanket away.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Imprisoned by what you believe

On Monday night I stayed late at dance class, chatting to one of the girls. In short, she's a great girl with a lot of complications in her life, many of which stem from long-term strife with partner and emotional abuse from family. I don't know the whole of it but I do know that she is treated very badly by the people in her life, mostly because she allows them to.

When I told her to ignore family members and not to go to family affairs where they put her down and speak badly of and to her she replied, "I can't do that; they're family - blood - and I have to". Girl, you don't. You don't have to do anything, especially not with people who treat you badly, even if they are family.

On this and other issues I asked her, "Would you choose what you are living and putting up with from family and partner for your best friend? For a daughter? Then why make this choice for yourself?". She wouldn't want this for anyone else and yet she chooses this for herself. As for issues with her partner... "But, I love him". There's love and there's habit. A woman who is beaten to a pulp by her hubby says exactly the same thing.!

Coincidentally, I'm reading a Dean Koontz book (mmm... he used to be Dean R. Koontz way back) - haven't read one in years. Velocity. This same night a paragraph caught my attention.

There's this weird artist who makes massive 'sculptures' - constructions. Once they're complete, he burns them. The scene is at sunset and the dying sun's rays are being reflected off the metal.

"What riveted him was the the great figure caught in the stylised machinery, the man struggling to survive among the giant grinding wheels, the tearing gears, the hammering pistons.
During the weeks of construction, as the mural had been crafted and refined, the man in the machine had always appeared to be trapped by it, just as the artist intended. He had been a victim of forces larger than himself.
Now by the peculiar grace of the setting sun, the man didn't appear to be burning as did the machine shapes around him. He was luminous, yes, by uniquely so, luminous and solid and strong, not being consumed by the flames by impervious to them.
Nothing about the phantasmagoric machine made any engineering sense. A mere assemblage of symbols of machines, it had no functional purpose.
A machine without productive function is without meaning. It can not serve as a prison.
The man could step out of the machine whenever he wishes. He was not trapped. He only believed himself to be imprisoned, a belief born of self-indulgent despair and herewith revealed as fallacious. The man must walk away from the meaninglessness, find meaning, and from meaning at last take upon himself a worthwhile purpose."

My friend needs to get away from the noise; to spend time away from the company of the people who have been digging, digging, digging into her confidence and sense of self worth to find who she is and what she wants and to regain the emotional strength to stand up to them. Until she realises that they are nothing but non-functional, unproductive structures, she will remain imprisoned by her belief in her jailers.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

How'd your Seven Day Spring Challenge go?

Yip, that's it. A week gone already. So, how'd your Seven Day Spring Challenge go? I confess to being not completely with the programme. I ran on five of the seven days. Three of these overlapped with other post-run activities; yoga, circuit session and dance class. I did five handstands sessions and six days of sun salutations (I completely forgot about it on Friday!).

I was feeling a bit pooped on the runs, especially Saturday. It was a good thing I chilled on Sunday with no run because I've felt much better since. Yesterday's handstand sessions was a big one - woke up with a dash of stiffness in my shoulders.

So, how'd your week so?

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Handstand breakthough

A month ago I went to a gymnastic coach to get technique tips towards achieving my goal of being able to do a handstand and to stay up (see this post). I've been working it almost every day since and two days ago I really felt the break through.

In a practise session I warm up with some sun salutations and movements to limber up my wrists. That's the thing - most of the 'work' the past four weeks has really been in conditioning my shoulders, arms, hands and wrists to the activity. I then do a load of 'handstands up' trying to focus on the techniques taught to be my my coach, Thato. Chin up. Shoulders back and down. Arms up. Fingers spread. Big lunge low. Arms and head down together. Big reach. Kick up. Phew - I guess I probably do more than 50 ups in a session...

Then I spend some time standing on my hands, leaning my feet against a wall. Here I focus on tightening and straightening and getting my upper body accustomed to supporting 60-odd kilograms. I tip my feet off the wall, holding the balance. The wall is security - and I definitely still need it.

Anyway, last night at dance class I wanted to show the girls how I was progressing from a month ago - I'd had a great session on Sunday evening; and I did my best ever! I have been practising on grass, because solid floors really hammer my wrists for extended ups. On the even floor I walked on my hands and was up for maybe five seconds. I felt fabulous! I also felt balanced and relaxed.

I think this is the big thing. Compared to when I started practising four weeks ago, I'm definitely more relaxed going into the move and this is probably making all the difference.

I'm not yet able to stay up for minutes but I'm making good, steady progress and I hope that with another month of effort I'll be even better - for sure.

Metrogaine Jo'burg

Yeah baby yeah... your calls have been answered.

All event information, entry details are on

ONLY problem with this event is...
...'cos I organise it, I can't run it.