Monday, 29 April 2013

Canicross and bikejoring

I ran with my husky friends twice last week (actually, three times - including Sunday morning).

On Tuesday evening as we were heading home I bumped into a woman out with her dogs and she commented something like, "Ah, canicross. I used to do it in the UK". When I got home I Googled "canicross".

As it turns out, canicross is a dog-human running discipline. It's cross-country running while hitched to a dog. The runner wears a waist belt, to which the lead is attached so that their hands are free. The dog wears a running harness (not collar) and the lead is a bungee-type line to reduce shock to both runner and dog. This is exactly the setup we have with the huskies.

The sport is well established in the UK and Europe and the first Canicross World Championships took place in Italy in 2002.

So then I start searching for local events because the dogs and I fancy a bit of competition. Web representation is shoddy.

Angel and Toscana's dad (Dino) invited me to join them at a sledding meet on Sunday morning. It's organised by the Sled Dogs Unlimited club. The season has just started and they went along or the first time last weekend.

The meets are really early in the morning to benefit from cold temperatures. Below 11C is what they prefer for running the dogs.

There's a one-kilometre and a two-kilometre track on a farm North of Diepsloot. They're dirt tracks, about a single-lane road width and cleared of rocks and nasties.

There were so many huskies there! So much excitement! And what a range of husky colours! And the sounds of doggie delight!

I was trying to get the frosty breath from the dogs - wrong angle. Toscana in the foreground and that's their dad, Dino, to the left.
There were a few 'sleds'. They're essentially tricycle-like chariot that has the musher standing (that's one in the background-right of the photo above). Three or four dogs get hooked up to the cart.

The other main discipline is bikejoring. This is where the dogs (one or two) pull a rider on a mountain bike. We both gave it a go and the dogs absolutely loved it.

Starting out was a bit shaky but 10m down these dogs were in full flight. That's Toscana on the left and Angel on the right. Photo by Iselle from Dog Sledding Unlimited.
I thought that I'd be eating dirt, especially if the dogs decided to go different directions. They were only a little distracted at the start and thereafter they just went for it, staying on the track and running together. Angel is definitely the big-time workhorse. She just doesn't get tired and she can outrun Toscana.

Getting going... Thanks to Iselle for use of her bike. Toscana is the fluffy one on the left and Angel is the one getting into race mode already - on the right. Photo by Iselle.
I'll take my bike down on Thursday evening to try it at our local park. There's more to distract the dogs there (other dogs!) but definitely worth a try. Dino will join me for this outing because juggling both dogs and a bike could be messy on my own.

I did ask the one guy about canicross events. There don't seem to be any competitions. It seems like they just run on the track. Maybe I need to organise a canicross trail race? The dogs and I are itching for some competition. They're running so beautifully and their fitness is getting really good. They're absolutely loving the cooler temperatures as winter approaches.

This is helluva good fun and I really enjoy playing with my furry running companions.

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Can you touch your toes?

At our orienteering school camp earlier this year I was absolutely shocked to see how many of these young teenagers were unable to touch their toes with legs straight. It's a fundamental!

There's good reason that flexibility is so often in the same sentence as fitness, strength and muscle endurance.

Flexibility has been front of mind for me for many years - from discovering flexibility limitations. First from early dabbling in yoga, then from pole fitness, then from more focused yoga (and pole) and now from circus school.

I never really got the strength-flexibility connection; it recently has started to click into place.

I'm fortunate in that I've generally always been reasonably flexible. Part natural - perhaps - and part because I've always incorporated stretching elements here and there - but never with much focus or attention.

I can touch my toes (the ground actually with a flat hand) and sitting on the ground with legs extended I can pretty much get my stomach on my thighs (thank you circus school). Even so, I can't do the splits (in any direction) and I'm not very good at sitting with legs in a v and striving to get my belly on the ground. Not the worst but really not good.

For me flexibility has always been about range of motion. More flexible = greater range of motion.

On Monday night at circus school we did a warm-up and then some conditioning drills. Leg lifts are a HUGE part of aerial performances, regardless of this discipline: silks, pole, aerial hoop, trapeze, rope... you name it. At some stage you'll be hanging above the ground by your hands and you've got to lift your legs above your head. C.O.R.E. strength. Big one. When I started at circus school in July last year I couldn't lift my legs much past half-way (90 degrees). I've progressively improved - as have my classmates. I thought I was pretty strong before. Not half!

So, Monday night our trainer takes us through a bunch of core drills with plank variations and other nasty-but-nice stuff. Then, we go to the pull up bars and he demands six leg lifts - all the way up. And you know what? We got it! Almost all of us completed the six reps with a great deal of proficiency. We haven't done this for a while so it was quite a kick. Just watching my classmates' successes was as good as experiencing my own. Watching them, I got a feel for that whole flexibility-strength connection.

For me, both elements have improved over the months. Because my touch-my-toes flexibility (pike) has improved, my leg lifts have improved. My strength has improved because I'm able to lift my legs over a greater range of motion. And, I've got this greater range of motion with straight legs - so I'm lifting a longer lever (harder) and it looks way better than bent knees. Ping-pong! The connection!

While flexibility can be measured (and improved) in every joint, I find that the good 'ol bend over and touch your toes is probably the most beneficial one to work on and a good measure of whether you're missing the party or not. Aside from being linked to the ability to cut your own toenails with ease, it's also beneficial for your running (stretch those hammies!) - and everything else too.

Cruising the web tonight I spotted an interesting paper linking hamstring flexibility and overuse injuries (running). Two groups of runners were used in the study: one group of runners who had sustained at least one overuse running injury and one group of runners who had been injury free throughout their running careers. There were no significant differences between the groups in average running pace, weekly distance run nor any of the other training variables analysed.
The sit and reach test, in which the IF [injury free] group performed better than the I [injured] group, was the only anthropometric variable that differed significantly between the groups. This result appears to support the speculation of several authors who have suggested that a lack of flexibility could lead to overuse injuries in runners. Lack of flexibility may increase the stiffness of a muscle, possibly placing more stress on the adjacent joints. Poor flexibility could also be indicative of a muscular imbalance, which would facilitate the earlier onset of fatigue, thereby leading to improper mechanics during the latter stages of a run.
Interestingly, there is no experimental evidence to demonstrate that stretching before or after running reduces the risk of overuse injuries. Similar results were found in the present study, with no differences reported in stretching habits between groups. 
These results suggest that maintaining flexibility of the hamstrings may be important in preventing overuse running injuries, while the use of stretching as a means of warm up or cool down is not effective in reducing overuse injury risk.
Yes, hammies are the big problem. Tight hammies mean that you'll never get those hands under your toes, much less to your toes. Hamstring flexibility can improve with time and attention. It really does.

After working out, give some thought to your hammies. There are a dozen (and more) hamstring stretches that can be done (like here and here). Sitting standing, legs together, legs apart. It all helps. You'll need to put in a bit more than a quick five-second fold over if you want to see improvements. Aim for >10-second hold with a few repeats and every time you breathe out, sink deeper into the stretch. Don't overdo it though - easy does it.

How about we make May 'Touch your Toes Month' with the aim to improve from wherever you are now?

Nice hamstring stretch video from Runner's World.

[The other big toe-touching barrier is a large belly; if your stomach prevents you from touching your toes, then you're missing the plot (unless you're pregnant). Self-inflicted disability, folks].

Monday, 22 April 2013

Once-off blood donations are a waste of resources, blood and good intentions

I stopped in at my local blood donor clinic this afternoon. With the Namib Desert Challenge in late March I've been a bit off my regular donation schedule as I like to go during the big holidays (Easter and Xmas) when the number of car accidents goes ballistic.

As an O negative blood type (Universal donor), I'm much in demand. The blood service (my lady there is Lynette) phones me the day before I'm due to donate to remind me to come in! And if I don't come in I can be sure to expect a few more phone calls from her.

I was in the area today so I thought I'd drop in. I've got time for another few this year - I'll aim for August, maybe October and then definitely xmas time.

A chap I haven't met before assisted me today and I was chatting to him about once-off donations. I'd always thought that they were a complete waste of time as blood components are only used once the donor has been in another two times within a 12-month period and that all three samples were clear.

Know what?

I am right.

Once-off donations are a complete waste of time.

The only component that can keep is plasma; kept frozen it is good for a year. The donated sample is separated into three components (red cells, platelets and plasma). Red cells and platelets are trashed. The plasma is frozen and kept on the shelf until the next two donations come in. If these are clear and safe, the frozen plasma can be used and thereafter all three components will be used. If more donations do not come in, the bag of frozen plasma is trashed.

While you think you're doing a good thing getting all excited about 'making a difference' at blood donation drives, you're not - unless you intend to keep donating at least three times a year.

Every donation requires equipment: gloves, needles, testing vials, blood bags with anticoagulants inside. And then the samples go off for testing for things like HIV and Hepatitis (B & C) and syphilis. The blood is separated and plasma is frozen and stored. All of this costs and even though your intentions are good, you're wasting time, money and resources.

I've written about blood donations many times on this blog. And every time I've stressed the importance of being a regular donor.

A few years ago a nurse at the clinic told me that 89% of donors start to donate only once they've been on the receiving end. Makes my blood boil.

So, if you have any inclination to donate blood, then only do so if you intend to donate three times a year and to keep doing so. Don't get caught up in the excitement of a blood drive at your office or a local mall - you're wasting resources - unless your intentions are really good and committed.

Blood donations only make a difference when they come in threes - like Goldilocks' bears, the little pigs, the blind mice, the Stooges, the wise men, the musketeers... got it?

[Find a donor clinic in your area -]

A bonus day

On Saturday I scored a free day.

My day was originally meant to go as follows:

  • Leave home before 07h00 to get to orienteering to set up the start and finish while Garry and Brian were putting out controls (our club was organising the event). 
  • Make sure I have my navigation course stuff is in the car should I finish late at O and have to go straight to Delta Park. 
  • Head for Delta Park by 13h00 to put out cones for the navigation course activities.
  • Navigation course (two sessions) from 14h30 - 17h00. Pack up, check cones etc.
  • Home.

Instead, beautiful rain was pouring down since the day before.

I did get to orienteering nice and early. I was fairly excited to be wearing my rain jacket and rain pants. I bought the most fabulous rain pants last year in Ireland before the 24hr rogaine - haven't worn them since (not much opportunity here).

 By the time I arrived the decision had been made to cancel the event because the sports fields (and everything else) were so waterlogged. Not great for the fields to have runners tramping all over them and also not entirely pleasant for the runners to be out there.

I was cheery in the morning about the weather clearing... but by the time I got home after 09h30 (hung around chitter-chattering at O) I'd faced the reality it wasn't going to lift. So, I got to work contacting my navigation course people to cancel navigation training. They all seemed relieved; not to be missing the course but to be able to stay at home all warm and cosy.

The thing with cold and wet weather is that activities can be done but they're just not as much fun and ones focus shifts from the activities to keeping warm and dry.

So, I now had a WHOLE open day ahead. An absolute treat. And how did I spend it?

On the couch. With my cat (she wouldn't leave my side). Alias, House and Downton Abbey DVDs. Cuppa tea. And a new crochet project. OMG - what an indulgence! By 21h00 I couldn't watch another series episode - totally saturated, like the lawn ;)

I figured that I would have been busy the whole day and not able to get to other tasks so I may as well ignore those other tasks even though I had time and opportunity to do them.

Free days really are wonderful - especially when they're unexpected. Definitely most welcome.

This is the first of two projects that I have on the go. I've seen so many fine crochet items around and I've wondered about how they are made. So, I found a pattern, bought yarn and a thin 2mm hook (the smallest that I've ever used). Took me a while to get used to the hook and thin yarn. I ended up wrapping duct tape around the handle of the hook because I was struggling to manipulate it (too thin!). These are the first two of ten motifs that go around the outside. There's another whole story on the inside of the overall shape. It takes about 1h30 to two hours to make one of these 'flowers' so this project is going to take me a long time to finish. But it will be quite beautiful when it is done.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

The unknown unknowns of navigation

I held the first of six 'Adventure Navigation' sessions on Saturday afternoon. I've got a super enthusiastic bunch of participants with a range of navigation experiences from none to some.

We're using orienteering maps for these lessons - convenient, lots of detail, colours and symbols and can use a small area for practice - so I began the lesson with some map familiarity activities. This week we'll move on to some technical skill training - but I can only do this when people know that a green circle is a big tree and a brown 'v' is a pit and white is forest and yellow is open ground. Very much like if you don't know words you can't read a sentence...

For one of the activities I did a 'guided' walk where I pointed out the symbols and colours with respect to the features in reality. Even for a regular orienteer there is a lot you don't necessarily look at in such detail because you're moving swiftly and you only need to read the fine detail when you're nearing the control. And often there are symbols you just don't see or take note of, which could be useful.

There are indeed unknowns that you don't know you don't know until they're known. And once they're known these unknowns become known.
My aim is that this series of navigation sessions will uncover the unknowns and make them knowns.
I so get Donald Rumsfeld...

Friday, 12 April 2013

Metrogaine Jo'burg visits Sandton

... well, strictly speaking the suburbs in question were Parkmore and Riverclub...

A great evening last night!  What makes Metrogaine so special really is the gathering of such a super group of people.

I've put up a post with link to results on

I snapped this pic in the parking lot, as teams were planning their routes. It's of my friends Andrew and Tony. Nice one. They were third overall.

When orienteering friend Stephanie discovered that she'd left her running shoes at home (she came straight from varsity), I loaned her my shoes. In exchange I got her gladiator sandals, which ended up on top of my socks... thank goodness for darkness ;) Stephanie ran really well - 1st women's pair.

Next Metrogaine probably only in mid- to late-August.

Lovely email from the Sandton Sports Club - they were the host venue for Metrogaine last night. It's a great location with a running club based there, swimming lessons, beach volleyball, parkour training, a women's bootcamp thing, soccer, touch rugby and probably a host of other activities. This is just what I saw in the course of two Thursday evenings. 


Hi Lisa,

What can I say? Absolutely well done!!!! Did you say 111 teams, 222 participants? Amazing!!!

It has been so refreshing dealing with someone so pro-active/ passionate/chilled / organised and fun, very fun.. Every community needs a whole lot more people like you. It was a privilege hosting your event at our club.

Watching the participants winding their way through the suburbs with their headlights on was so amazing. 
It reminded me of my childhood, when the neighbourhood streets were an extension of the backyard. When people knew who their neighbours were and cared about them and when there was no need for  JOC applications in order to venture out into the streets.

If we did this every evening there would probably no need for security companies either.

We would love you to do this more often. What about an event for families (to include kids ) in and around George Lea Park. Lets talk.

Thanks so much.

George Lea Park

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Happy 12th Birthday

12 years! Hundreds (if not thousands) of articles, race reports, calendar updates, news items...

I started writing the website in mid-2000 but it was only on 11 April 2001 that the website went live. It's original address was - but hyphens so do not work, especially in the earlier days of the web where people were clueless. A few months later I registered the domain,

Underwater Hockey Tourist was my first global community website, which I created in about 1996. It is still running - in the last format that I left it in too! I gave it to a guy in the US in about 2002 and it is still administered by the Houston Underwater Hockey Trust.

AR was something quite different and it has been through various evolutions from straight HTML coding to a CSS format and, in recent years, a Wordpress database. AR has been my 'baby' for 12 years... how the time has flown!

Thursday, 4 April 2013

6th Namib Desert Challenge - October THIS year

I mentioned during the event of talk about a time-frame shift for the running of the Namib Desert Challenge. The organisers, Kinetic Events, want to move the event later in the year. 

The dates for the 6th edition of this event are confirmed and they've been announced as the 28 October to 1 November 2013. You can expect conditions similar to what we had (hot, hot, hot - I don't really think there's any other option out here!) and an excellent event offering.

Registration is open and they're offering an early bird discount of 5% to those who register before the end of April (that's this month). 

If you're not in for this year, keep in mind that the event will be run next year - and thereafter - at a similar time - late October-ish.

The event website is You'll find the race itinerary and registration details all there.

One of my favourite photos from the race by Hannisze (see the fabulous albums on Facebook). This was from the final stage and these are the front runners. They ran most of the way together, which was really sweet. Here they jumped for Hannisze and she caught it beautifully with all of them in the air. What a winner! It really conveys the spirit of this superb event.

Building cages - road closures

Before I left for Namibia and now this week, I've been scouting and planning the course for my Metrogaine Jo'burg event next week. It's a time-limited (1hr or 90-minute), night-time, urban (streets in suburbs), navigation (choose your own route between controls) running event.

The area that I'm using for the event has a load of road closures. For those not in the know, this is where suburbs seal most of the roads coming into the area keeping only one or two open with guards to control access in and out. Security.

The ones with two accesses - these are ok and I can work with them; it's the areas with only one road open for in and out traffic that messes with the 'flow' of my course. Some areas have two access points but often one gets closed at 18h00 or 20h00. The 20h00 ones I can use but I'm stumped by the 18h00 entry and exit points.

For ANY navigational event, flow is vitally important. A route from one point to the next should be efficient and it should make sense. Going in and having to turn around and go out the same way is illogical. It doesn't advance your forward progress.

Planning this course has been the toughest of the six events that I've put together because of all the road closures. Nonetheless, the route looks good and it has flow. To me. What the participants do with the checkpoint locations and how they plan to access them... well, that's for them to decide.

As I was travelling around looking for the closures (all of which I mark on the map, which I'll finish drawing tomorrow) and checkpoint options, I had the feeling of being caged. Sure, the suburbs in this area are pretty with well-kept properties but these enclosed suburbs really are just big cages. The wall-surrounded properties are smaller cages and the houses with bars and doors and locks are even smaller cages. There's a distinct lack of people walking around. Drive in, drive out. Lock up. Sad, really.

While I don't live in an enclosed suburb, home isn't much different either. I remember when we had no electric gates (no gates actually), no pallisade fences... That little park down the road that I run around and through most days... Arrrggghhh... they've recently closed some roads around it and added a horrible fence on the main road side. My heart sunk when they started with this. Sure, I can get in via a pedestrian gate and out on another road, but that's not the point. Caged. That's what we are. Yuck!

Monday, 1 April 2013

Namib Desert Challenge: Post-race contemplations

Home sweet (and cool) home. Now that the unpacking and washing is done I'm settling into customary post-race blues. That's the problem with a most wonderful week away with a most excellent group of like-minded people and nothing to worry about but running, eating and sleeping. Well, there's no better way to deal with post-race blues than to seek new adventures.

The second wave of runners waiting for the start of the final stage on Friday morning. Photo by Hannisze.
I thought I'd jot down a couple of notes - thoughts whirling around in my mind.

Desert gaiters
When you run in sand, you do need a shoe covering to prevent sand getting in. Desert sand is not the same as beach sand; it is fine and dry and it sneaks in through any and every gap in your shoe - the top, the mesh, the tongue. A desert gaiter is a shoe covering that is attached to the upper of the shoe and it covers your foot from the ankle to the sole.

You need to plan ahead as it is best to have velcro sewn around the base of the upper (the gaiter has velcro around its base). Glue is definitely not a good idea, especially for multi-day events as it wiggles into any little gap and lifts the glue. Any shoe repair shop will be able to do the stitching.

Desert gaiters are not that easy to find. Make your own or order online. Be sure to order the correct size (there are usually two or three sizes available). Too small gaiters will not fit properly and they'll pull up the front of your shoe creating toenail issues. There are a few options available.

Shooting the breeze with Christine (in pink) after Stage 3. We were looking up at the most beautiful blue sky, streaked with interesting clouds, through the branches and leaves of a shady Camel Thorn tree. These blue gaiters covered with fish were my super-dooper gaiters for this race. Photo by Hannisze.
Obviously I think that my Desert Gaiters are the best. The current version is my third evolution of the design, tweaked after three years of the Abu Dhabi Adventure Challenge and my first run at Namib Desert Challenge in 2009. They're made from lycra, they come in two sizes and we make them up in your preference of colour and print - whatever fabric we can get our hands on.

I am definitely not a good example for what training to do in preparation for this event... especially when I tell you that my longest run pre-race was a 15km in January... I generally average 40-55km/week. Although I had a comfortable race and I came out the other side with no stiffness on any day (I think my massage ritual helps with this) and good feet, more training and longer runs would have seen me being able to run faster, harder and longer. I've been running regularly for 20 years plus many long and multi-day races plus a mix of other disciplines every week so I really, really do not recommend doing what I do.

Runners like Marius, at the top of the field, runs 200km a week and spends a lot of time too on core strength. Asa, who had a superb run, clocked around 1300km since the start of the year (I think it was) and he also spent time running up and down a small sandy dune to build strength and prepare for the sandy stages. Excellent for building leg strength. He says that he thinks he only walked about 2km in total! Christine, who lives in Toronto, heads up to a cottage over weekends and she does a lot of long running. She gained bit by bit on me every stage - about 30 mins a day - ended up exactly 2hrs ahead of me overall. It does pay to put in the time and distance.

If you're a newbie, work your way through running programmes. Start with 5km and 10km programmes, move on to 15km, 21km and marathon. You just can't go wrong with a solid base. And later add in some trail for better proprioception and foot-ankle strength. But, don't rush your training. Take your time and get strong steadily or you'll spend more time at your physio than on the road.

Food & drink
This year delicious dinners were provided every night. We only had to pack in our own breakfasts, lunches and snacks for the run. The waterpoints really were superb and while I didn't eat much of the cookies and fruit provided there, I did drink loads of the electrolyte mix and iced tea. And to think that I only tried the iced tea on Day 2; I really missed out on Day 1!

For breakfast I went for FutureLife with added protein powder. I'm not going to be eating this again for some time... During the day I popped a couple of gels and ate some of my snacks, like cornnuts and roasted nuts, dried mango and home-dried banana. In the afternoons I ate my two-minute noodles with tuna. And then it was dinner time with veg soups, salads, pasta or rice.

In terms of volume of fluids we were all drinking a lot. I was almost flattening my water reservoir by the time I reached each waterpoint. That's around 1.5l. Plus, I'd leave the waterpoint having consumed about 750ml there and then. And then we'd all be drinking more in the afternoons after running. That's a lot of liquid. By the end of the week I was feeling quite puffy. Heat, salts, fluids... all contributing factors.

Here's an interesting one... On the 4th and 5th days I was peeing frequently, even out on the course. On the long day I made three stops during the stage! Definitely nothing wrong with my kidneys. On Saturday, post-race, I wasn't drinking much as we were on the bus for hours yet I had to go on the bus (there was a loo onboard), when we stopped in Windhoek and again at the airport not long after we arrived and again before boarding. I probably hadn't consumed more than 1-litre that day. And this continued all through yesterday. The good news is that my body is no longer stock-piling fluids, I'm not as puffy and I'm no longer bouncing up every half-hour to go to the loo.

It's easy to get to Windhoek with regular flights from Jo'burg and Cape Town on SAA, Kulula (British Airways) and Air Namibia. Transport by bus to Sossusvlei was provided and organised by the event - it's a 4h30 trip, mostly on a good quality dirt road. If you've got the dosh, you can fly into and out of Sossusvlei by charter.

Bye bye
I always get a bit sad to see my running buddies depart. To some we say goodbye at Sossusvlei if they're staying on; others go different ways at the Windhoek airport as they board other flights; and some are off when we land in Jo'burg.

Events like this present an opportunity for the coming together of people with more than just running in common. It's what burns in our hearts that is more unifying.

I'm fortunate in that I've been in this adventure / ultra / multi-day game for a long time and the people I hang around with the most are much like me. Running three back-to-back marathons plus an ultra plus a 'short' 24km stage to top it off - over challenging terrain and under extreme heat conditions - is not considered 'crazy' or really out there. Rather, I'm sent off with a wave and well -wishing text messages saying, "Enjoy the race". And they can relate to what I'm going through because they've done similar events - in some or other form. So, when I get home, I merge back into a similar environment surrounded by similar people.

But this isn't the same for all the participants. Many stick out like a sore thumb among friends (and families). I think it is far harder for them to re-integrate after such an experience, one that can literally be life changing.

[Not quite a year after I started adventure racing I deregistered from my Masters studies and turned my back on seven years. I have experienced first-hand the life-changing effect that hard, challenging, multiday events can have.]

Thank goodness for Facebook and being able to easily connect with the people with whom you have shared the experience.

What's next?
This was probably the most common question flying around camp. Some of the runners have got some good events lined up over the next year.

On the racing side I don't have much planned. I'm organising Metrogaine Jo'burg for 11 April; then I'm writing for Expedition Africa in early May (not racing because of being away shortly afterwards); and then I'm off to Argentina in mid-June to mid-July for intensive Spanish lessons -  an adventure dream I've had for almost eight years now.

Participating in races will be taking a back seat for a bit and with a number of projects that I had on the go from the beginning of the year to shortly before the race - Forest Run being a big one -  now out of the way, I'll focus a bit more on running training (I heard recently about a speed session group on Tuesdays near home) and aerial disciplines (another class in the pipeline).

That said, I'm cruising various websites, keeping an eye on what is on. I have a race in mind that I'd like to do much later in the year. For this one I'll really need to tune in my focus on running - I'll definitely need to do runs longer than 15km in preparation for this one, especially if I want to do well and feel great. For sure, squeezing in more running between other odd activities and circus classes is possible but ultimately something will have to give - for a few months at least. We'll see what the months bring...

Keep an eye on for details on the September running of this superb event. Absolutely superb photos by Hannisze are on the NDC Facebook page -