Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Running Retreat

Date: 18-20 January 2013 To be rescheduled for mid-April 2013
Venue: Lakenvlei Forest Lodge, Belfast, Mpumulanga
Rate: R1,600.00 per person
Arrival: from 14h00 on Friday, 18 January 2013
Departure: 12h30 on Sunday, 20 January 2013

This is an active and social weekend away for people who love forests, trails and running. Although this weekend is about getting in lots of running (and walking), there is also plenty time in between runs for other activities and relaxation. Although I've used the word 'retreat' to describe this running getaway, we won't be burning candles and standing in a circle holding hands while we chant 'om'.

The group runs are social and they’re run at a conversational pace. Sure, conversational is relative, but you can be assured that these runs are not about flying through the forests at 4:00 pace. This area is for enjoying, not racing. If you’re an average 6:00 - 7:00 runner, you’ll be A-ok. We’re running on forestry roads and trails and the environment is way more relaxed and the pace is slower than any road run. Plus we'll stop to let people catch up or to take photos of great scenery. No rush. For whippets, the routes are tagged so if you'd like to run faster you're welcome to do so.

The rate of R1,600.00 per person includes:
  • Accommodation on Friday and Saturday night
  • All meals: Friday dinner, three meals and snacks on Saturday and breakfast and tea-time snacks on Sunday
  • Guided runs and marked routes
  • Additional, informative sessions to improve your running
The number of participants is limited to 14.

Whether your motivation to come on this Running Retreat is to kick start your running again, boost your motivation for the year ahead or to log mileage, you’ll benefit mentally and physically from this weekend of exercise, fresh air, forest terrain, good food and friendly company.

Friday Saturday Sunday
07h30 Run - 13km# Run - 12km#
09h00 Breakfast and showers Breakfast and showers
10h00 Yoga for runners
12h30 Lunch Check-out
14h00 Arrivals
15h15 Running form and technique (with drills)
17h00 Run - 8km
17h30 Run - 7km^
19h00 Dinner Dinner
20h00 Gear to try Talking shoes & foot care
Games / read / chill Games / read / chill

^ No stress if you don't make it through to Lakenvlei by 17h30. No need to rush in the traffic.
# Fruit and snacks will be available before morning runs
* Check-out time on Sunday is 12h30.

Additional sessions
  • Gear to try - I've got gear that you can try over the weekend like hydration packs.
  • Yoga for runners - My running friends always have tight calves and tight hammies and most find stretching to be the last thing they want to do. I'll teach you a short, flowing yoga sequence - from Ashtanga yoga - that is much exercise as it is stretching. Easy to do and easy to remember, flowing from one move to the next is - I find - far easier than having to think what stretch to do next. I'm not a yoga teacher but I'll show you the moves that I've learned that work for me.
  • Running form and technique (with drills) - we go to tennis coaches, golf coaches and paddle coaches but we just lace up our shoes and go running. We'll chat a bit about good running form, uphill and downhill technique and I'll show you a couple of drills that aim to make us more efficient runners.
  • Talking shoes and foot care - the buzz out there is 'barefoot'-style shoes and minimalist shoes for road and trail. We'll chat about  'barefoot', minimalist and cushioned shoes, injuries, buying shoes and preferences. I'm also often asked about foot care, especially where blisters are concerned. I'll cover prevention, what to look out for and how to cope with blisters that have formed.
Nothing is compulsory at this Running Retreat. If you want to sleep late, you can; if you're tired from the morning run and want to skip and evening run to sit and watch birds, you can. You can choose which sessions to attend and you can bring along your mountain bike to go riding.

Other activities
The Lodge offers fly- and lure-fishing as well as horse rides (R150.00 for a one-hour, guided, outback trail).
The area is also superb for bird watching and mountain biking.

The idea of this retreat is to run and enjoy running - not to clock two months of mileage in a weekend. The routes planned are scenic and they take in the lakes, wetlands and forests of the area. The terrain is a mix of forest dirt road, forest jeep track and grassy forest tracks. Run distances for the weekend total 40 kilometres with the shortest route at 7km and longest at 13km.

Lakenvlei's luxury, self-catering log cabins are comfortable and spacious. All have an open-hearth fireplace in the living area and comfortable couches. They're fully equipped with kitchen essentials (fridge, microwave, stove, kettle, tea & coffee etc), a big dining table and towels are most definitely provided.

The 8-sleeper cabins have one double-bed room with bathroom en suite plus another double-bed / twin room, a second bathroom (shower and bath) and a loft with four single beds. The 4-sleeper cabins have one double-bed room plus a loft with two single beds and a bathroom (shower and bath).

The combination of cabins booked will depend on the final number of participants and who will be sharing or not.

Transport to Lakenvlei is self-drive. Lisa will gladly assist in hooking up people to share transport.

DIRECTIONS: Lakenvlei is about 230km from Johannesburg and 200km from Pretoria. Take the N4 East, past Witbank (eMalahleni) and Middelburg. Turn left at the Belfast turnoff. In the town of Belfast, turn right onto the Dullstroom road (R540; there's a Total Garage on your top right). It takes two to 2.5 hours to reach Belfast from Jo'burg. There is one toll gate near Middelburg and the rate for a car (as of October 2012) is R43.

The entrance to Lakenvlei Forest Lodge is exactly 10km from Belfast, on the left-hand side of the road (sign-posted). The winding road from the turn-off to the Lodge is paved and it is very scenic and restful. It takes 10-15 minutes to travel the 6.5-kilometre distance to the actual Lodge. Please keep to the 40km/hr speed limit as there are critters around.

All meals are provided and they're healthy and home-cooked. There will be lots of fruit, veggies and delicious dishes with snacks and fruit available at all times. We'll also gladly accommodate specific preferences like vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free. Be sure to notify us of any allergies - nuts, shellfish etc.

  • Running stuff: trail shoes*, socks, shorts, tops, cap, shades, sunblock, light splash-resistant shell (it could rain but you won't freeze if you're running and you get wet)
  • Hydration: hip-belt with bottles or small backpack with reservoir – sufficient for one-litre of water
  • Other stuff: casual after-run clothing, headlamp, snacks of your choice (fruit, muffins and rusks will always be available but you may want your own munchies and treats)
  • Remember to pack warm clothing too as it gets chilly at night, even in summer
  • Books and magazines and chill-out stuff
  • There is a bar in the Main Lodge for sundowners
  • There is cellphone signal but it can be quite low. Internet signal is sketchy and is more often just 2G. 
* Road-running shoes, minimalist and barefoot shoes are suitable too as the paths in this area are very feet friendly. It is quite likely that you'll get wet feet on the runs.

  • The rate is R1,600.00. 
  • A deposit of R800.00 confirms your booking. 
  • The balance is due on Friday, 11 January 2013, one-week before the Running Retreat. 
  • Cancellations can only be accepted up until seven-days prior to the weekend. A 25% cancellation fee will apply. Later cancellations will incur a 50% cancellation fee.
  • Bank details will be provided on confirmation of available space.
Please complete this REGISTRATION FORM and return it to Lisa at
Other activities on offer at Lakenvlei include walking, fly fishing, horse riding and bird watching. The mountain biking trails are fabulous too - you're welcome to bring your bikes.

About Lisa de Speville

This Running Retreat is a fun initiative by adventure racer and trail runner Lisa de Speville. Lisa has been running distances over 10 kilometres for 20 years. She runs road races, trail runs, mountain ultras, multi-day staged ultras, circuit races, social runabouts... Lisa has run ultras in India, Brazil, Costa Rica, Estonia, Ireland, Namibia and the US of A (Hawaii, Pennsylvania, Virginia) and all over South Africa.

Lisa regularly writes for magazines - she has a regular column in Go Multi magazine - about adventure racing and trail running and she's a contributor to the 'Trail Runner's Guide' by Jacques Marais. She's also an avid blogger -

Lisa is the owner and editor of South Africa's adventure racing website -, she organises the Metrogaine Jo'burg events and one of her most recent initiatives is FEAT (Fascinating Expedition & Adventure Talks), which she created. Lisa lives in Jo'burg.

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