Sunday, 7 July 2019

Four Days on the Orange River

Shortly after my birthday we left for the Northern Cape town of Prieska for a four-day, three-night kayaking trip on the Orange River. It was superb!

There are very few photographs of me as I took most of them! Here are two that Celliers took:

Sunset posing

Cooking oats for breakfast with Ruben looking on.
I actually got some superb photos just because this area is incredibly striking.

We had excellent paddling, some long days, great comraderie and superb food. With my big down sleeping bag, I slept snug despite the subzero overnight temperatures.

I've written a piece for our Vagabond Kayaks website, which I've pasted below. A stash of photographs are in an album on our Facebook page.

Are we going to go back? Of course! We've got dates scheduled for late September, over new year and for end March 2020.

Four Days on the Orange River

The Orange River is South Africa's biggest and longest river. Despite having paddled many sections of the Orange, there are still some sections that neither Vagabond's Celliers Kruger nor Graeme 'Riverman' Addison had ever been on.

A number of weeks ago, Graeme gave us a shout to see whether we'd be keen for a winter kayaking trip to scout a lesser-known section of the Orange: the stretch between Prieska and Koegas. In writing his book 'Run the Rivers of Southern Africa', Celliers was mostly after whitewater, so he had never ventured to this area. We were in!

We knew that this section would be mostly flatwater with some islands and channels and some easy rapids - perfect for our Vagabond sit-on-top kayaks and inexperienced paddlers. The water here is regulated by outflow from the Vanderkloof Dam, which generates hydroelectric power. Flow fluctuates between 40 and 200 cumec.

This was to be a partly supported trip as Graeme planned to take along three rafts carrying camp kitchen equipment and dinner for 23 people for three nights. The kayakers needed to carry their own breakfast, lunch and snacks. Graeme carried containers of drinking water on the rafts; we carried a gravity water filter.

We were all in for an exploratory trip; a four-day, three-night journey to discover the best features of this area.

Kayaks are faster than rafts
With three rafts and 14 kayaks on the trip, there would be a discrepancy in speed. As kayaks are faster, we decided in advance that the rafts would depart earlier each morning with the kayakers catching up during the day to meet and share the overnight camps.

The kayakers joined the rafters at two of the three camps. We waved goodbye to each other on the morning of Day 3 as the rafts were to take out earlier than planned and the kayakers needed to cover more distance.

Winter is also for adventures
Doing anything outdoors in winter is primarily a matter of packing warm gear for the cold nights and mornings. We woke up to considerable frost and ice on our kayaks. The days warmed quickly once the sun chased away shadows. In contrast to the sweltering summer days in this area, winter days are sunny and mild. At night, from our cosy places around the campfire, we were treated to a magnificent night sky with exceptional meteor sightings.

 The paddling
As expected, the water was primarily moving flatwater with thoroughly enjoyable ripples and channels.

We covered shorter distances on days one and two, and made up for this on the third and fourth days to get to out take-out in good time. In total, we covered 98km! A superb effort by the kayakers. Now that we know the lay of the land, we can accurately plan a shorter and more leisurely trip for our next visit to this section.

Camp cuisine
We enjoyed hearty meals on this trip. Each person packed their own breakfast, lunch and snacks; dinners were communal. Ahead of the trip we split the 23-person strong group into three teams, each assigned to providing and cooking dinner for one of the nights on the river. Who says that camp cooking has to be relegated to smash (dehydrated mashed potato) and tuna!

For the first night, Group 1, the rafters, prepared a delicious braai (aka barbeque) complete with potatoes, a tomato-and-onion sauce and a green salad. For dessert, we were treated to chocolate mousse with cream.

For the second night, Group 2 pulled out an oxtail stew. Francois' wife (not on the trip) had pre-cooked and frozen this five-star meal. This was accompanied by polenta cooked in a three-legged pot on the fire. Rozanne's chocolate-brownies-with-custard dessert was, understandably, well received.

With the group splitting on Day 3 into rafting and kayaking contingents, the kayakers loaded a cooking pot and their dinner ingredients onto their kayaks. The rafters had sufficient food packed, which left the 16 kayakers to enjoy Lisa's 'Red lentil sloppy joes'. These were served with bread  baked in tin cans on the fire, and Shane & Chantelle's funky salad.

Lienkie and Herman's dessert was the figurative cherry on the cake. Lienkie created individual layered desserts served in cups; cookies, strawberry pudding, flaked almonds, goji berries and cream. As Celliers eloquently says, "It tasted like a rainbow". That sums it up beautifully.

The sights
Day 1 stands out for its unbelievable rock formations. The layered and folded cliffs defy belief. The world's largest deposits of tiger's eye, a metamorphic rock that is prized as a gemstone, are found in this area. Mountains of the stuff!

Day 2 was big on birdlife. This stretch of the Orange River is well vegetated along the banks, which would account for the abundance of birds. Flotillas of ducks and geese, fish eagles around every bend, sightings of the striking green plumage of white-fronted bee-eaters, numerous Goliath herons with their two-metre wingspan, giant and pied kingfishers, and also coots, egrets, darters, cormorants, bulbuls, barbets, weavers, wagtails... Sighting a martial eagle was yet another bonus.

The sky on day 3 was spectacular. It was the most magnificent blue made exquisite by patterns created by cold-font clouds. Birds, especially fish eagles and Goliath herons, were constant companions.

On day 4, we saw dozens of leopard tracks at a snack spot. The final kilometres leading to Boegoeberg Dam were characterised by long sand banks, which gave the river a completely different feel. 

While there are farms on the banks of the Orange River between Prieska and Koegas, the countryside is sparsely populated, rocky and unforgiving, especially in summer. This gives a sense of isolation - an experience to be treasured in our always-connected world. The combination of pleasurable paddling, the variety of sights and the feeling of being in the middle-of-nowhere will draw us back to paddle this section again and again.

Wednesday, 19 June 2019

New timetrial PB

After my super birthday run yesterday, I wasn't planning on a spectacular run at timetrial tonight - but I had one anyway!

Contrary to popular belief, a dog clipped onto you doesn't mean a faster run. Said dog likes to sniff and pee here and there, which loses time like crazy. I think that the best time that Rusty and I have had at our local 4km timetrial may have been last week when we ran a 22:40-something - even with a bit of sniffing. That was surprising.

I started running time trials earlier this year. They're held at 17h30 on Wednesdays starting from a local park. It is a tough 4km route.

I've done a low 22 minute on my own, but not less than this. Well, tonight I nailed a 20:20, taking around two minutes off my PB.
(I judge PBs off the last three-odd years, not all time).

I am super chuffed. Now to take this to a sub-20. I haven't done any speed work but I am doing the big hill once a week, which seems to be making a difference. Yeah!

43 Days of Running is up

This year's annual birthday challenge, like that of last year, did not have as much impact on my life as in previous years. When I started this birthday game for my 35th birthday, it was at a time when I needed to focus on running; my schedule was erratic, I was chasing ideas and plans and deadlines, putting in a lot of hours and letting time for me slide.

Every year this birthday challenge has been grounding and a reminder that daily exercise and activity is not only good for me physically, but critical for my mental well-being too.

It was like this until two years ago when I got Rusty. While I may treat myself as second fiddle to other people and deadlines, this dog comes first in my life. And our routine is that we go for a run or walk or paddle or something every evening. We both need the exercise and it is great time spent together. So, even when I have been working crazy hours over the past year, I have still been consistent in my running because I go out with my doggy-girl.

The past 43 days have flown past and like much of the past year are a bit of a blur. Not all of the days were running. There were some paddle days and a yoga day and also some longer walks instead of runs, especially if Rusts and I had a harder run the previous day. I'm cool with that. I definitely think that I need to step up my game for next year - I've got time to decide what and how.

I celebrated day 43, my birthday, with a 10km road run, something that I do not do often.

I had spent most of yesterday on an out-and-back trip to Joburg to collect stuff for work. It actually proved to be a nice day as the traffic was smooth and the drive gave me time to think and just be. Waiting at our suppliers I spoke to family on the phone, responded to lovely messages from friends... I wouldn't have had the same peace at my desk with a full inbox and a long to-do list.

On my return to town, I have my mom a call and asked her if she could drop me at an intersection 10km from town, which she did.

She took the dogs for a walk while I was running. I had an awesome run and, with thanks to the cool weather and the hill running that I've been doing almost weekly for the past 6 months, I didn't even feel the hills.

At 8.5km I met up with mom and the dogs, picked up Rusty and we ran the rest of the way home together.

My day started with breakfast in bed and ended with a lovely dinner with Celliers and my mom.

It was a good birthday day.

Monday, 17 June 2019

Hand 'em down to reuse

I like hand-me-downs, items of clothing that are passed from one person to the other.

About two years ago we had a clothes swap here in Parys. A bunch of girls all got together with bags of clothing that they no longer wore / didn't fit / didn't like and we all got pieces that look great on us. It was a fun evening of dress-up. All of the garments that I chose, I wear regularly throughout the year.

I have often, over the years, given away garments that just didn't work for me. I remember a pair of jeans that I never settled into that I passed onto a friend. I thought they would be perfect for her. It turns out that they were. I had forgotten about them and a few months later I visited her and happened to remark on how great her jeans looked on her and where did she get them. "From you," was her reply. They didn't look that good on me!

Other items I have passed on to domestic helpers for themselves, family and children. It really does work just to pass clothing on if they are are doing nothing but hibernating in your cupboard.

With two children in my life, I value hand-me-downs even more because, at 11 and 13, these creatures grow like weeds. They have barely fitted into something when they're already out of it. And many items don't get a lot of wear before they're too small. A neighbour passed on some of her too small items more than 18-months ago for Kyla. Some of the dresses were perfect to a little big and a really cute pair of jeans and a denim skirt were too big but worth keeping for her to grow into. The jeans are now just right and on Friday I put up the hem so that she can now start to wear them.

The children know to put outgrown clothing on the 'Table of Everything' and I pass these on.

Hand-me-down applies not only to clothing, but also to shoes, furniture, appliances, linen, tools, crockery and even spectacles and frames (hand in at an optometrist). Anything that one person no longer uses and that can be used by another.

It was serendipity that I bumped into man from town at the local auction where I was looking for an old wooden ladder. I didn't find anything there but two days later he called to say that his friend was moving and she had an old wooden ladder that she couldn't take with her to her new, smaller home. I picked up the ladder from him a few days later and with a lick of paint it will serve my decorative purposes.

The road to Zero Waste is paved with 5 Rs - Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Rot (compost) - in this order. Hand-me-down clothing ticks the Reuse box.

Monday, 3 June 2019

Why I love watching Netflix

Whether I watch series on DVD or series and movies on Netflix, I love watching tv. Work days are long and stressful and watching an episode (or two) a night is an opportunity to escape. Of course, Celliers teases me that I can never just sit and watch something. My preference is to work on a crochet project at the same time - how could I ever just sit and do nothing!

We've been watching Outlander (currently on the 3rd and last season) and for the past two months I've been working on a blanket. The original pattern is called 'Persian Tiles' by Janie Crowfoot. Another crochet guru, Lucia, saw this pattern and imagined it with more colours, creating the 'Eastern Jewels' colour interpretation from the original. I took one look at this and just knew I had to make it.

The Persian Tiles pattern can be purchased online but the Eastern Jewels colour guidelines only come with a yarn pack purchased from the UK. Prohibitively expensive. So, two months ago, after purchasing Persian tiles online, I spent a very late night scrutinising photographs of other people's blankets and I worked out a colour scheme for my blanket. Yip, 20 octagons (the original pattern has 16, I added another row), 12 diamonds, 14 triangles and 4 small triangles.

How much tv I get to watch determines how quickly the blanket progresses. I work on it for 1-2hrs a night and in the past two months I had two days on weekends when I spent a few more hours during the day working on the octagons. Bit-by-bit it come together.

This past weekend I completed joining each element, added the border foundation and last night I added the first (or 9-10) rows for the border. As each border row is a single colour, it goes way faster than the rest.

That's why I love Netflix. It is a never-ending source of things to watch - series, movies and documentaries; so much that I'll never get to a fraction of what is available. It offers a form of escapism and the opportunity to just sit and to create something with my hands that gives me a lot of joy and reward.

I am so looking forward to a stylish afternoon nap under this blanket and draping it over me while I watch more Netflix shows.

Tuesday, 21 May 2019

A bit of whitewater

As if myrun and social paddling were not enough, I enjoyed a late afternoon bit of whitewater at our local spot, Gatsien rapid. I got to paddle our Pungwe whitewater kayak for the first time (without swimming).

My challenge of the day was paddling our Vagabond Usutu whitewater sit-on-top (blue one in the photos below) with Rusty on my lap! This kayak was not made to carry a 21kg dog! On our return route she went down some little bubbly water (not a rapid) and she didn't even flinch. Unfortunately we didn't get a photo as the camera was in my backpack (on my back!).

This was Celliers' first post-shoulder-operation paddle (surgery was back in late January). It is a long road to recovery and will still take many months to gain full strength.

It was a beautiful afternoon next to the river.

Rusty watching Celliers run the first production Pungwe through its paces.

Celliers just makes it look so easy.

Ruben and Kyla chilling on the warm rock.

My first turn in the Pungwe, which is my size whitewater kayak. I really don't have great skills but I did catch some eddies and do some ferrying without swimming. Rusty kept a close eye on me.

On the Usutu whitewater sit-on-top. This is more my comfort zone.

With my girl.

Rusty rocking her doggy PFD.

Monday, 20 May 2019

2nd running of Not Forest Run

Saturday, 18 May 2019 saw the second running of Not-Forest-Run. It is so enjoyable that even if/when I bring Forest Run back with a new route, I'm still going to do a Not-Forest-Run too.

This was a spectacular morning with clear views, blue sky, sun, an open road and the warmth of good company.

Thank you to Bertrand, Michelle, Staci, Ian, Kerry, Heather, Suretha, Chris and Ferdi for coming to run.

Some photos from our morning.

This year's Not Forest Run runners

Kerry, Ian and Staci.

Lisa running with Kerry, Staci and Ian.
Heather and Suretha.

Kerry, Lisa, Ian and Staci,
Heather and Suretha.

Taking friends on a scenic paddle

When friends come to visit, it is inevitable that they'll either be made invited to run or to paddle. This weekend I had the pleasure of having Jo'burg friends Staci, Ian and Kerry in town for Not-Forest Run on Saturday. They spent the night, which meant that I could take them paddling on Sunday morning (after the 5km myrun - hahahaha). Karen joined us for the paddle.

Me and Rusty at myrun. She was in excellent form.
And what a magnificent morning it was on the water!

We did around 4.5km on flatwater with beautiful reflections. This is what our outing looked like...

Rusty did her best ever, lying perfectly in the tankwell of my Marimba. That's Karen on the white Epic v7.
Even though Vagabond Kayaks is our company, there is no doubt that our kayaks are the best recreational kayaks out there - not just in SA but in the world. I'm not just biased - performance speaks louder than words. I love paddling my Marimba. It is the best model for paddling for fitness with speed (and a dog).

Kerry on the pink Tarka and Ian & Staci on the yellow Mazowe.

Rusty lying in the tankwell. I've put foam paddling in the tankwell to make her comfortable and so that her paws don't slide.
Autumn colours.

Thursday, 16 May 2019

Walking, puff adders and moonrise

A few weeks back I enjoyed a lovely late evening walk out at my friend's place, Otter's Haunt. Rusty and I enjoy running there with Karen and her dogs once a week. This time, Karen's sister Heather was visiting from Tasmania and, as it turns out, Heather and my mom were at school together in Zimbabwe! This is the first time that they have met up in... 50 years!

A highlight of the trip was seeing a pair of coupled puff adders and enjoying the view of the full moon rising.

Photos by Karen.

Puff adder face

Heather (left), mom (back right) and me (ahead of mom) with Skally (facing forwards), Rocksy (behind Heather) and a glimpse of Tansy. Rusty may have been ahead.

Mom and Heather. School friends meeting up after 50 years.

With my dog, on a rock.

Ahhhhhh... Full moon.

Under 3hrs for 26km paddling? For sure!

On 1 May, I again paddled the 26km stretch of river from upstream of Parys to our paddling club. I'd done it a few days before with my friend Karen. The water was a bit lower on the 1st, but no less lovely. I'd thought it was 24km but my companions with GPS units confirmed it to be 26km.

I set a new record for this section of 3h10, paddling my Vagabond Kayaks Marimba. There were two bits of waiting involved so even with lower water, I'm still certain that I can I get my time under 3hrs. By the end, my upper body was tired; I'd worked hard. I really enjoy this stretch and look forward to paddling it more regularly, even at low water. And yes, I have plans to create a really decent map of the river.

Before the start. I didn't take any other photos because I was too busy paddling!

Mother's Day walk

My mom fractured her right leg in October last year on a trip to Morocco! She started walking regularly again a while back but only recently has she been back on the uneven surface of tracks and trails.

For Mother's Day, we headed out to the Deelfontein farm for a walk and picnic with our friend Marianne and our dogs. I haven't been to Deelfontein for ages. The terrain is rocky and there are countless paths to choose from. The hills are still very green, but they won't be for much longer as winter sets in. It was the most beautiful morning and lovely to be out together. The dogs loved it, of course.

Deelfontein is open to the public, by arrangement, for running, walking and mountain biking. Visit their website and contact Gerhard directly. It is about 20-minute outside of Parys.

Me, mom and Marianne.

Mom and Marianne on a track.

Beeegggg spider! (there were two of them!)

With my dog-child. Dogs got picnic snacks too.

Rusty watching out for interesting things.

Mom and Marianne.

Mom with Tansy.

Monday, 6 May 2019

43 Days of Running

I figured that it would be about time for my annual pre-birthday running game... Thank goodness I checked because it starts... TOMORROW!

I started this game when I turned 35, which makes this my 9th year of playing.

How this game works is that I have to run every day for the number of days of the age that I am turning, with the last day being on my birthday. Yes, this year I am turning 43.

In the past I've set minimum distance or time ... I generally look at a minimum of 4-5km. I often do more but I can't do less. Sometimes I do swap out activities, like if I do a long paddle instead of a run. I just don't have the time to paddle for an hour and run for an hour. But as running has always been my primary discipline, the bulk of my daily sessions is made up with running.

My mom is doing her own challenge this year, starting later this week (I think). She has a lot more days than me to do - leading up to her 67th birthday in July.

That's the joy of this game; you get more days as you get older, not less.

Saturday, 27 April 2019

River is up - let's paddle

Back in February, I paddled a section of the Vaal with my friend Karen. It is a mostly flatwater, 25km section with a number of lovely ungraded rapids aka 'ripples' along the way. The river has been low but after the good rains in Gauteng the past two weeks, the river was up - time to paddle.

What a superb Friday afternoon we had! We got on to the water just before 3pm and got off 3.5 hours later just as darkness descended. The current doesn't exactly push your down the river - the volume is not enough for that - but high water does mean that the rocks in the ripples are covered by water. We did not scrape or get stuck on rocks, which we did last time.

This is very much the type of paddling that I enjoy; long distance, lots of variety with many channels, sweet and friendly ripple-rapids, lovely scenery, many bends in the river, and a few hours out on the water in the company of my friend.

The water is already on its way down. We have our fingers crossed that we'll see these decent levels for another few days. Wednesday is a public holiday and a bunch of paddlers are planning on hitting the river in the morning.

Karen. Taking photos of each other. The reflections were so perfect.
Me. Paddling.

Not quite a rapid - these ripples are such fun.

Oh yes! Blissful fun.
That's a very teeny island with a big tree on it.
Karen coming through a long section of ripples.
The last two kilometres to the finish. The sun is gone. The wind is gone. Very peaceful.

If I was a DSD athlete...

As we wait for the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) to make a decision in the case of Caster Semenya vs the IAAF (International Association of Athletic Federations), there is chatter in the press.

Paula Radcliff got slammed for saying that she doesn't agree that hyperandrogenic (HA) and those athletes with Differences of Sexual Development (DSD) should compete in the female category.

Why HA/DSD issues didn't come up decades prior to Semenya's 2009 medal-winning participation puzzles me. Dozens of athletes from years gone by can be pointed-out as being HA/DSD, even without hormone testing.

While I think this issue has not been dealt with correctly, like Radcliff, I do not think that hyperandrogenic / DSD athletes should be competing in the women's category. Not at all. Not even with lowered testosterone (T) levels.

 Let's say I'm an athlete and since puberty I've been taking T. This hormone has allowed me to develop physically bigger and stronger than I ever would have without it. T has given me big strong muscles and I'm at the top of my game - fast and strong.

CAS's concession to T lowering means that if I keep doping as I have been, I can't compete in women's events; but if I only take half of what I was taking, I can compete in women's events. Even if I stopped doping completely, I've had the advantage of developing my body for 15 years (based on Semenya's age) with a hormone that I wouldn't have had naturally, which has given me an advantage over other female athletes even without the ongoing boost from having a higher-than-physiologically-normal-female T level. That is cool for me, but bad for them.

Sport selects for DSD athletes, just as basketball selects for height, because they are faster and stronger, which is why there are so many DSD athletes in women's sport - far exceeding population occurrence - and not just in the track and field disciplines.

This Let's Run article by Amby Burfoot (22 April 2019) is well presented and it a must-read that clarifies what is going on.

It brings me back to a Q&A piece from 2016 by Ross Tucker with Joanna Harper, a hyperandrogenic ex-athlete herself. It is long, but informative and educational read.

Whether Caster, the poster child of hyperandrogenic issues, and other DSD athletes should compete against non-DSD women should not be an emotional issue. This is something that can be decided by science.

Just because I feel that DSD athletes have been run through the mill and that this issue has not been dealt with correctly, does not mean that I can ignore science and evidence to say, "Ag shame, just let her run because she trains so hard, she wins medals for South Africa and she has been treated so unfairly". No. This is something that has a detrimental effect on women's sport.

According to the Lets Run article, "The occurrence of all DSDs lumped together is between 1 in 15,000 (0.0067%) and 1 in 20,000 (0.005%)". But when you look at the start line for the 800m Olympics / World Champs, there is very likely a 35-75% participation of DSD athletes.

Testosterone is the hormone that is key to this issue of differences of sexual development.

From the Lets Run article:

There’s a large, definitive medical literature on normal testosterone levels. Women with XX chromosomes generally live in a range from 0.00 to 1.7 nmol/L, while men with XY chromosomes typically fall between 7.7 to 29.4 nmol/L. Don’t worry what an nmol is; just note that there is no testosterone overlap between typical women and men. In fact, the high end of the female range (1.7) sits 75 percent lower than the low end (7.7) of the male range. That’s a big gap.
At the 2011 and 2013 World Championships, the IAAF actually measured the testosterone levels of 1,332 women and 795 men. The women averaged 0.67 nmol/L and the men 15.6 nmol/L. Again, the proposed IAAF cutoff of 5.0 looks generous alongside 0.67. 
Over the years, hundreds of athletes have been banned from competition for taking performance-enhancing drugs - and many for anabolic steroids, of which testosterone is one. Steroid use is banned by most sporting bodies. Doping is a nasty business that has brought down many stellar athletes; they certainly felt the risk was worth it to be better than they already were. Considering athletics, names of female athletes that stood out for me were Marion Jones (convicted) and Florence Griffith Joyner (speculation, never proved).

If the CAS testosterone lowering regulation is passed, it means that DSD athletes with high T levels must take meds to lower their T levels. That said, can women with a natural testosterone level <1 5="" a="" get="" if="" level="" not="" now="" of="" p="" take="" testosterone="" them="" to="" why="">
All of this is about protecting women's sport. Women do not compete against men; they would lose. Women will lose against a field of DSD athletes too.

Semenya is the poster child for HA/DSD controversy. That's just how it is. How she has managed to put up with the controversy for so long... Tough! But then Pistorius went through this too in his bid to be considered for able-bodied competition, which should never have happened! I can't begin to understand why they are do driven to be in a category that they are not.

If I was her...

I would withdraw from competition. I would use my fame for awareness around hyperandrogenism and Differences of Sexual Development, including testing, diagnosis, types and health repercussions. The secrecy behind this and her has not helped the situation either. I would coach athletes and I would also establish a global league for DSD and transgender teens and adults. This would prove an interesting project!

But that's me.

Because of emotions and sensitivities, we're tip-toeing around a fraction of a percentage of athletes compared to 99.9% of women athletes without DSD. And this is how the CAS ruling should lean. But, we'll only know when it is announced.

Friday, 26 April 2019

Too many choices for Freedom Day

The past few years I have done the Freedom Day parkruns on 27 April. These Freedom Runs for Freedom Day started five years ago, organised by some friends. At that stage there were only 9 parkruns in Jo'burg and they planned a route that did all of them in a day. This involves driving-running, driving-running throughout the day. I missed the first year as I was away, but I've run the last three years.

This year, as there are so many parkruns there is a Jo'burg East, Jo'burg West and Pretoria options for Gauteng. I am sure there are also runs in Cape Town. And we have four parkruns in this Vaal area, Parys is one of them.

Part of the appeal for me is not only to spend the day running, but to catch up with friends from Jo'burg who I mostly get to see once a year at this event. With people now split east and west... I've been indecisive. When there was only one version, I didn't have to make a decision.

I concocted a plan for doing a long run here in Parys; but as Event Director of our parkrun here, that we're newly on the new scanning system and we have the additional Freedom Run, it looks like I'll be at home providing support to our Run Director for the day.

I'm doing a long paddle this afternoon as the river is up after the recent rains, so it maybe isn't a bad thing that my long run is shifted from tomorrow.

Back in the day there were only three adventure races a year - 180km, 250km and 500km. It was like this for about three years. Everyone who participated in adventure racing, came to these events from all over the country. Then came mountain biking events, the start of growth in trail events, the introduction of sprint adventure races... and 10 years after adventure racing was introduced to South Africa there were fewer teams at a 500km than there were in the early days.

in addition to parkrun, we also have a myrun event here in Parys - on Sunday mornings. They recently introduced a 2.5km run in addition to the standard 5km. While this is superb for children and those walking or starting out, it does give those who would do 5km an easier alternative. This past Sunday, there were very few people on the 5km, with the majority opting for 2.5km.

Choice is nice and choice is good. But too much leads to inaction or a spread of fewer people at each event.

Rusty and I at myrun Parys

Tuesday, 2 April 2019

Rusty's second adoptaversary

Rusty and I celebrated her second adoptaversary in the way we most enjoy - with a run.

This dog-child has been in my life for two years and what a wonderful influence she has been.

She is sweet, playful, bashful and gentle. She has the most beautiful eyes and a smile that melts my heart and brings a smile to my face. She can be mischievous - sometimes, but mostly she is chilled and calm - until I lace up my running shoes.

She is a wonderful companion and I treasure her company every day.