Monday, 22 May 2017

The magic of Forest Run

The 5th edition of my AdventureLisa's Forest Run took place on Saturday and we were blessed with the most perfect weather and a field of friendly and enthusiastic runners.

It is never easy out there - the Forest Run route is fairly technical and challenging. And as the day warmed up, the runners felt the heat.

What certainly makes Forest Run so very special are the people. The marshals are mostly made up of my friends and family, sometimes past runners, current runners' partners and sometimes strangers who hear about Forest Run and offer to volunteer.

In order of appearance on the route my magical fairies and elves this year included: Liz (my mom), Celliers (my fiance), Penny, Tersia, Sylvia, Andy, Maggi & Marcel (photographers), George & Joan, Sonja, Sarah, CP, Hugh & Taryn, Louise & Jan, Fred, Lizzy, Martie & JP, Karen, Tanja & Jacques, Warrin, Sharin, Duncan, Isaac & Lloyd (medics).

Martie made the delicious date squares this year. We've all eaten too many of them!

My mom Liz always puts in double-time on Forest Run, especially in the week before the event when she prepares meals for marshals, lunch packets for marshals (assisted this year by Martie) plus the food for the aid stations. It is a lot of work to shop, prepare, organise and pack everything and she does it so beautifully. She is also in command of the finish - recording the runner numbers and times as they reach the finish.

Celliers is my right-hand on the day and he keeps an eye on the waterpoints by dropping off marshals and driving through to check on them. We have little cell phone signal in most places of the route so it helps a great deal to have him doing the rounds.

Karen has helped me hugely this year with trail cutting and trail marking and she was out on the far side keeping an eye on the runners. We had a few issues with baboons taking down boards and markers in the week and as she knows the route as well as me, it was reassuring to have her keeping an eye on the spot where we know the baboons have been.

My marshals themselves... Some have been at Forest Run before - not just here but when it was out at Lakenvlei. They all have event experience - either from organising or a lot of participation or both. It so helps to have a team of people who have been at events before - who have been at this event before. With limited comms out there, I need people who can make decisions, deal with situations and who are adaptable to any situation that develops. They give me the freedom to stay at the finish to welcome the runners in.

Various marshals sweep from their points to collect the boards and tags that we put out. Sonja, Sylvi, CP, Sarah, Fred, Lizzy and Hugh cleared the route as they worked their way to their exit points. There is only one short section that doesn't connect with start-exit sections, which I'll clear this week.

Maggi and Marcel are my magical photographers and they'll be posting their photos on the Forest Run Facebook page in this week.

I left my fairy skirt at home on race day - in my hurry to leave the house I left it hooked over a chair. Nothing that some fairy wings didn't sufficiently remedy, but I did miss my skirt.

At the finish with two locals - Gerhard and Sean.
And then the runners. I'm sure Forest Run has the nicest collection of runners ever! This year I gave telephonic entries a try and many entrants went for this option - so I felt as if I knew many of them by the time race day arrived as we'd already 'met'. In addition to the usual email-entry-form entries, I also had entries by sms and whatsapp and Facebook Messenger! It was a bit of a juggle but actually worked really well.

For now I've got the results to type up, a report to write, runners to email, landowners to thank and a date to set for Forest Run 2018. I'll post a selection of my favourite photos later this week.


Friday, 12 May 2017

How about a Moo Igloo

Aside from two very full weeks with Forest Run trail preparations, our new product - the YOLO Moo Igloo - is in production and our first order gets dropped off at our local dairy Wynn-with Dairy Farm on Monday.

About a year ago they approached us about making calf hutches for them. We didn't have an oven wide enough at the time. Towards the end of last year we picked up the conversation and as of now we're able to make these beautiful calf hutches.

We've called our calf hutch a YOLO Moo Igloo and this is what it looks like.

A calf hutch is like a very large dog kennel for calves. The 'kennel' has an attached fence that makes a 'garden' and the calf lives in its own hutch-and-garden for up to three months, until its immune system is strong enough for it to join an outdoor living group. Hutches are spaced about a metre from each other so the calves can chat to each other.

These individual hutches are beneficial to the calves' health as they have their own food and water, their health can be easily monitored (easy to see if they're not drinking or eating and if they have diarrhoea) and the spread of diseases is limited - think runny nose in a nursery school. Of course the hutches provide shelter from the sun, wind, rain and cold.

We weren't initially going to make the pens, but then the dairy suggested we go for it as an option for farmers. Some farms will have existing pens that they can just attach to our Moo Igloo, but those expanding their herd may prefer just to get this pen from us together with hutches instead of making their own fencing. The cool thing about our pen is that it pivots to tilt upwards so that the hutch with pen can be dragged by a worker to a new spot. Being easy to move is a great feature - our local dairy moves their pens every week so that the calf has fresh grass under their hooves and to lie on.

There is a BIG agricultural show next week, NAMPU, and Wynn-with kindly invited us to have our YOLO Moo Igloo on their Valtrac stand (farming equipment). We're going through for the day on Tuesday and are so excited about being there. Just over a week later is the Royal Agricultural Show in Pietermaritzburg and our calf hutch will be there too. We'll plan to go along at least for a day too.

If you know any people with calves, sheep, goats, chickens or very big dogs, please direct them our way. 

Our range of YOLO products is slowly starting to grow. We've got the YOLO Compost Tumblers in our YOLO Green (garden) category and now this YOLO Moo Igloo in our YOLO Yellow (agricultural) range. Very exciting!

Monday, 8 May 2017

41 Days of Running begins tomorrow

Seven years ago I started a pre-birthday tradition of running every day for the number of days of the age that I'm turning. Every year the start date gets earlier... Tomorrow is my 2017 start date for "41 Days of Running".

I've got a very full plate with Forest Run coming up in two weeks and I'm quite certain that one run I may not get around to is on Forest Run day. Nonetheless, the challenge is on. This year I also have an energetic doggy companion, Rusty, as an added motivator.

Since having her in my life I have found it far easier to get out for runs because even when I'm bogged down with commitments, where I may not prioritise myself to get out for a run for me, I'll get out for a run for her. She is very good for me.

She did her second parkrun on Saturday and set a new PB of 30:35. Together we're still slower than me on my own (by 5 minutes), but as her fitness improves she'll be pushing me!

The combination of Rusty and this annual birthday game should be an excellent combination for my fitness improvement over the next 41 days.


First canoe triathlon

Yesterday I did my first canoe triathlon with my friend Sylvi. It was hosted at Rietvlei Dam in Centurion by TrailAdventure (Shane Gouldie is the organiser). We entered under the name "Parys Poppies" hahahaha

The event started at 07h00 so we slept over in JHB to have a quick drive to the start. We got there just after 6am. Very early! It was around 10 C, so not too cold. By the time we started at 7 I was in short sleeves.

The paddle
Sylvi and I have paddled four time trials together in her K2 and we're rocking. We had to paddle four loops of the course - around buoys. When we set off there was mist above the water - very pretty. We had an excellent paddle and were one of the first boats off the water.

Neither Sylvi nor I bike very often but we were game for this 20km bike ride. It was just right for us with a bit of jeep track, dirt road and not too much technical. We lost our lead in the women's race to the pink pair, who were way better mountain bikers. 20km is a really great distance for a short and fast race.

The run
The final leg was a 5km run. This was on a grassy track cut into the side of the hill. It wound and meandered and made up the distance. Not very exciting but not terrible either. We took it very chilled and rocked in at the finish.

We clocked in at 2:39 for the course and were the second women's pair.

We didn't take any photos and thought we'd find a few from the event. Nothing up yet. But I did see this on FB -  a pic taken by a supporter of the pink pair. I'm hiding in the shadows; Sylvi is next to me.

Thank you teammie - that was fun!

Friday, 28 April 2017

9 Freedom Runs for Freedom Day 2017

Last year I participated in the 9 Freedom Runs for Freedom Day and yesterday I had the pleasure of doing it again. This is a concept created by my friends Staci and Francis. When they first held the event in 2015, there were only 9 parkruns in Johannesburg. There are now many more. Each year they choose 9 parkruns and on Freedom Day (27 April), a public holiday in South Africa, we run each one, driving from venue to venue.

Last year I only ran 8 of the 9 as I drove through in the morning from Parys and started with the second one. This year I drove through the afternoon before, slept over and was in Benoni for the first one at 6am.

This event also gave me a wonderful opportunity to hang out with friends throughout the day. I travelled with Sarah for the first five, then with Tania for the next four and then Allison gave me a lift to my uncle's house. I had the pleasure of running with Allison, Sarah, Tania and Cindy (she came to the first two and then did some in Pretoria) and seeing other running (and orienteering) friends throughout the day.

There were a bunch of parkrunners in for all 9 and many others there to enjoy only a couple, plus parkrunners joining us at their home parkrun. We had a good crowd at each venue.

This was the line up for this year's 9 Freedom Runs for Freedom Day (Facebook page):

The schedule is tight! A new concept was introduced this year: leapfrog. You do only every second one, which allows for more time for participating and travel between events.

We were running consistently between 28-32 minutes, heading back to our car, drinking something, driving and getting to each venue with about 15 minutes before each start. Tight.

#1 Ebotse parkrun - 31:25

Ebotse parkrun is in Benoni and it was our first parkrun of the day. We got there in the dark and started to run as the sun was coming up. This one was filled with as much talking as running as I caught up with Sarah, Tania, Cindy and Allison along the way. It is a pretty route and a very pleasant parkrun.

#2 Springs parkrun - 29:10

More catching up and chatting for us girls at Springs parkrun. It was colder here than in Benoni and we were quite chilled until later in the run. This is a lovely park with a snaking route through large trees. It is a fast and flat route and very pleasant.

Tania and me with Sarah and Cindy just behind.

Tania and me.
Sarah, Cindy and me. 
We also had a nice hello here with orienteer Ian Bratt.

Orienteers at Freedom Runs - Tania, Sarah, Cindy, me and Ian.
#3 Boksburg parkrun - 28:16

The day had started to warm up by the time we got to the Boksburg stadium for the Boksburg parkrun. Another good route and a good time, despite Tania and I talking the hind leg off a donkey. Not too much climb here and some sweet sections. Good use of the area.

#4  Victoria Lake parkrun - 28:28

My first visit to this side of of the lake in many, many years - like since I was a child. Victoria Lake parkrun in Germiston is a two-lap route and is very pleasant, flat and fast. I ran this one with Tania and again we chatted from start to finish. Nice and warm now but fortunately with a cool breeze too.

#5 Rietvlei parkrun - 29:55 (28:20 last year, but it was only #3 for me then)

Sarah, Tania and I started out together at Rietvlei parkrun in Alberton. I ran here last year and I've been here for orienteering - it is a super venue. What was different this year is that they changed the direction of the route and this way is much better, especially as you have a mostly downhill finish. After halfway our trio started splitting up. Tania blazed up the hills - I took a little walkie to catch my breath and stretch out my legs.

This was Sarah's last parkrun as she has four days of orienteering over this long weekend. With a nice 25km in the bag, I transferred my kit to Tania's car, we all said bye and Tania and I headed off to Albert's Farm.

#6  Alberts Farm parkrun - 30:26 (31:26 last year and #5 then)

I actually had a good run at the Alberts Farm parkun, which is on the southern slope of Northcliff hill. I also know this venue very well from orienteering.

My time was a minute faster than last year - very surprising. Of course I had a walkie up a few hill sections plus even on the flat at the bottom of the park. My legs were needing the stretching but overall not feeling too bad. Definitely no chatting from me at this point. Allison and Tania are really good on the hills, which they ran. Another one in the bag.

Almost at the finish...
#7 - Golden Harvest parkrun - 31:58 (33:49 last year, also my 7th)

This is such a great venue for parkrunning and orienteering and I've been here many times over the year. Golden Harvest parkrun is one of the best parkrun routes - it really is a beautiful park and the route has so much diversity in scenery and terain. Again a better time than last year, which is great. And I had a few walkies too.

#8 - Midstream parkrun - 30:37

Held in the huge Midstream estate, this is a relatively new parkrun. The inaugural event held a few weeks ago has 1,200-odd participants! This is the most dull parkrun route that I've run. I can totally see the need for start and finish locations with sufficient parking space, which this has, but the actual route itself is uninspiring. There are so many pedestrian paths in the estate but I can definitely see the limitation of route options around parking requirements and the course being able to support so many runners. When you're a parkrun with over 1,000 participants, this is a big issue.

Tania, Allison and I ran this one together. Not much chatting. The route is mostly flat with a very slight uphill for the last two kilometres.

This one was very tight for time with parkrunners leaving Golden Harvest to get here and to run and then head to Bryanston.

#9 Bryanston parkrun - 29:10  (30:27 last year, also the last parkrun)

The group of parkrunners who did all 9 Freedom Runs
And finally, the 9th parkrun - Bryanston parkrun. Tania and I ran most of the way together and it felt good to hit the final one.

This is an out-and-back along the Braamfontein Spruit and is a pleasant run. I have no idea how the route supports >1,000 parkrunners each Saturday! I'll stick to enjoying it on Freedom Day when the numbers are low and the route is enjoyable.

9th parkrun done.
Orienteering friends Richard and Alison joining me and Tania at Bryanson (Jess there too but we only saw her afterwards).
After the run, we said goodbyes and Allison gave me a lift back to my uncle's house. After a hot shower and a cup of tea I headed back to Parys. After waking up at 04h40, 45km of running, 200km of driving between parkruns and then 140km back to Parys, it was little wonder that my eyes didn't stay open for very long once my head hit the pillow.

Girlfriends, it was awesome to hang and run with you for the whole day. My warm thanks to Staci and Francis for organising and to all of the Event Directors and volunteers for hosting these Freedom Day parkruns. See you all again next year.

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

K2 paddle time trial improvements

For the past few weeks I've been doing our Tuesday paddle time trial at our Likkewaan Canoe Club in a K2 with my friend Sylvi. She's a very good paddler and we'll be doing a canoe triathlon together on Sunday 7 May at Rietvlei in Centurion. 8km paddle, 20km mtb and 5km run.

My first two time trials in the K2 felt quite unstable - not terribly bad but not comfortable either. I hadn't been in a K2 for a long time and not one this fast before either. By our third session, last week, I was a lot more settled and tonight even more so. It is a good thing because we're probably in for a lot of turbulence at the race.

Last week we bettered our time by a few seconds and tonight we took 20 seconds off our first lap and finished 30-odd seconds faster than last week - even with a bit of chatting on the second lap. Last week and this week we didn't have anyone in front of us to chase so we're still chuffed to have maintained pace. Paddling with Sylvi has definitely made me focus more and she's working me over nicely with a fast cadence.

I'm really enjoying our sessions and improving each week in speed and synchronicity is satisfying.

Photo taken after tonight's time trial.
Sylvi and I did a 35km mtb ride together on Sunday afternoon and we had a good ride. We'll be nice and warm for the 5km run on race day.

Celliers will be doing the paddle tri with Ruben, who is turning 9 in August. They rode the 35km route on Sunday too - taking 30 minutes off their time from the week before. The smaller wheels of Ruben's bike on the rough road make it a far harder ride for him than for us - and he was still trying to bounce over bumps near the finish. He should cruise the 20km distance of the race. Ruben is paddling really well too and he loves being in the K2 with his dad. He has also been coming more often to parkrun too. He was only a few minutes behind Celliers this past Saturday. The boys will have a good one.

Hiking with dogs

On Sunday afternoon I hit the Forest Run trails again, but this time with Rusty, my mom Liz and her dog Tansy.

My mom got Tansy almost a year ago when this little dog was abandoned down the road from her house. Tansy was well groomed and had probably only been out there for a while when my neighbour picked her up and went walking around looking for her owner. That's when my mom saw Tansy and it was love at first site. My neighbour took Tansy to the SPCA and my mom phoned first thing the next day to see whether anyone had claimed her. Nothing. Two weeks later, still nothing. My mom then adopted this one-eyed maltese.

Shortly after getting Rusty Celliers says to me:
"I'm not sure whether it is real or whether I imagined it... or if it was a rumour... but I thought that you and your mom were cat people?"
He's right. We've always been cat people. I definitely inherited the cat thing from my mom as I've had a cat in my life almost non-stop since I was born. She always had a cat from when she was a child. Bracken's passing, this time last year, broke our hearts.

There have been dogs that we've liked - like my husky friends Angel and Toscana and, more recently, my dear husky neighbour Kiska (who is no longer with us). But, for the rest, we've been through and through cat people.

Now, nevermind dog or cat, I'm a Rusty person. A total convert. I even kiss her and I don't wash my hands every time after I've touched her. Same goes for my mom. She's a Tansy person now.

I was so impressed with Tansy on Sunday afternoon. This was Tansy's first hike and this little one-eyed white dog with her little short legs proved to be a hiking enthusiast. She walked the entire route (about 5km), scrambled over rocks and under branches and even crossed little streams. Mom carried her across the first stream and after that Tansy did the rest on her own - even hopping across the rocks on her return route. It is a delight to watch the enthusiasm of this little dog with her big heart.

Rusty loves the trails and is an excellent path finder. She doesn't like the sound of the baboons shouting from the hills but she'll get used to it.

Rusty will come out with me next week for four days of trail cutting and clearing in preparation for Forest Run on 20 May. Not long now!

Sunday, 16 April 2017

Rusty on the Forest Run route

Yesterday Rusty came out with me, Celliers and our friend Marinus for a lovely hike on a section of the Forest Run route. We start cutting the trails for Forest Run in two weeks so it is nice to keep an eye on how the area is looking before I have to jump in.

Rusty is only two-and-a-half weeks after her sterilisation op so I am very cautious of doing too much with her. We kept a leisurely pace and she loved it. I took her off lead and she was such a star. She stayed with us - never going too far ahead so that she could look back and see us. She is an excellent trail dog.

The first part of the route that we did isn't on the event route. We took an old track that has recently been opened up to the top of the hill. Great view!

We then headed off the hill and onto the Forest Run route. This is a section that only the 30km and 46km routes go on.

What was so amazing for me was to see the streams running. I knew there was water here before the drought but this was the first time that I've seen the streams with water - it was magnificent and I fell in love with the area all over again. Rusty enjoyed a drink and a splash in the first stream we came to.

We then went on to the Red Donga Trail, which I always enjoy. It was even better than usual as it looks even more like a place you'd find fairies and elves. Lots of green undergrowth through the donga.

We stopped for a quick break and snack.

I couldn't believe the amount of water flowing across the road at 'Butterfly Alley'.

We then popped into the Venterskroon Inn, my start/finish venue for Forest Run, for a colddrink and snack (they make divine chips!). Rusty had a snooze under the table.

I look forward to taking her out here more ;)

Forest Run comes up on 20 May 2017. Entries are open until 6 May. Come run -

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

A fine Sunday

Weekends whizz by too fast and all too often they slip away with too few adventures. Despite living a block from the Vaal River and 25-minutes from the Vredefort Dome, I get out too infrequently to play.

I had a good Sunday this past weekend. After nailing some work in the morning, I met my mom and her dog Tansy to talk Rusty for her first post-sterilisation operation walk along the river. She loved being out and although she is not allowed to run or jump yet, she was energised by just being there.

My mom and me.

with my Rusty girl

This route is part of our Parys parkrun route. When she is all recovered Rusty will be coming to parkrun.

My mom's dog Tansy.
In the last afternoon, Celliers and I climbed on our bikes to ride a super 35km loop on the Vaal Eden side. It felt good to get out, which I haven't done much of lately. The cosmos flowers are all over the place. I didn't see any game - of which there is a good deal in the area - as I was too busy watching the road!

I need more weekends like this.