Wednesday 30 September 2009

Destination running

With the public holiday last Thursday, I decided to visit my uncle; he lives 7.8km from me, as the crow flies - and 11km, as the human runs. I've run there a few times before - sometimes taking a longer route to get there and then running home again. I haven't done this for about 3-months (not since Michael G. and I went to run an out-of-Joburg road race, arrived in the wrong town, drove back to Joburg and went on a long run, visiting my uncle midway for a colddrink).

Thursday had perfect weather - warm, but not too hot; a slight breeze and clear blue skies. This was my first proper training run since returning from TransRockies Run. After that crazy post-return weekend with the 100-miler and trail run, I thought my legs deserved a thank you; so I've stuck with paddle training and dance classes.

I felt great! And while I was running I was thinking about this 'destination running' thing. In training and in racing, we run in circles - literally. What I really enjoy about staged ultra races is that we usually run from one camp to the next; our origin and destination are two different locations. The same applies to adventure racing where you journey from one transition to the next; the latter located a distance from where you began.

The only limitation to destination running is, "How do I get home?".

Variation 1: Pick a destination, like the shops (DVD store works for me too), friend/family's home. Run to it and then run home.

Variation 2: Phone a friend. Arrange tea. Run to their place. Have tea. Get a lift home.

Variation 3: You've got a lunch planned at a friend's house. Leave early and run from home. Your partner can leave later, transporting your shower stuff and presentable clothing. Arrive at your friend's place. Shower and then be sociable, enjoying a well-earned lunch.

And now for my finest concept...

Variation 4: For this you need a runner friend... Plan a route between your house and theirs. They start from their house, you start from yours. You run a common route, meeting somewhere near the middle. Swop car keys (and gate keys). You continue to their house; they continue to theirs. On arrival, you fire up their car and start driving to a designated meeting point on the route. Say hi to each other, swop cars and drive home in your car.


Kilian breaks Tahoe Lake Rim record - by over 6hrs!

Kilian Jornet, the Spanish-wunderkind runner, broke the Tahoe Lake Rim record last night. He ran the 165-mil (264km) trail route in 38hrs32, which is 6h20 faster than the previous record set by Tim Twietmeyer in 2005. Kilian's target was 40 hours.

Kilian started running Monday morning and finished Tuesday night. He was paced by a number of accomplished trail runners and mountain bikers. He took an unintentional detour during the night, which they estimate could have cost him an hour; he also slept for two hours.

I followed his run, intermittantly, through Facebook (Salomon Running group); his pacers were sending regular Tweets and Status updates. There are also a number of YouTube videos; they show Kilian's relaxed and easy running style and pace.

It is quite exciting when a young runner, like Kilian, does such exciting running. I'm not sure what his next 'Quest' run is going to be, but it will certainly be worth keeping an eye on his conquests. I'd love to see him out here on the SkyRun route... (yes, I have suggested it to the media people working with Kilian).

Tuesday 22 September 2009

Trade agreements - keepin' the peace

When it comes to racing and training, there are definite advantages to being unmarried with no children, especially if your spouse is not as devoted to sport participation as you.

After some insightful (and entertaining) conversations with friends this past week (all married with children) I have some thoughts...

One for one
This is one I don't recommend - you work* X hours on one day of the weekend in order to get the same amount of time off the next day to race/train. It's a bad idea because this is essentially an eye-for-an-eye strategy. You'll never win.

* Work is defined as household, DIY or childcare activities

Suck it up
You just go ahead and do what you want, dealing with the impending doom when you get home later. This is not a great strategy either... for two reasons. First, it's never nice to being in trouble; and second, intentionally antagonising your partner is stoopid - you wouldn't like them to do this to you.

The guys I spoke to are all responsible, committed men, who love their wives and families dearly. They work during the week and put in time at home after hours and over weekeds. They don't go boozing with 'the boys' every weekend, crawling home at 3am; and they don't spend Saturday nights away from home tucking R50 notes into strippers' thongs. I'm certainly making assumptions about these guys and their home life (you know the whole 'behind closed doors' thing); my assumption is based on how I know them. For all I know they could be lazy, beer-guzzling, couch-dominating slobs at home - but I doubt it.

As much as these guys love their families, they also love their sports. And, their participation in sport is integral to who they are as well as their physical, mental and emotional health and wellness.

Athletes and their partners, I'd like you to look at training and participation in the following light; sport is a 'hobby' of sorts. 'Traditional' hobbies like stamp collecting, cross-stitch, watercolour painting and rebuilding cars also take you 'away' from your families. The only difference is that you'd probably do these at home whereas a run or a race will take you out of the house (as does boozing and gambling etc - there are worse evils than being sporty). The doing of hobbies gives you time to yourself, time to think, time to be, stress relief and the many physical health benefits. This certainly keeps the individual sane so that they're much nicer person, partner and father.

Of course, everything in moderation. Spending 50hrs a week at work and 20hrs a week training will mean that you'll be dropping the ball at home.

Not having to deal with these issues myself, I'm no expert but I do tend to be sympathetic.

On the radio today the local psychologist was talking about criticism (giving and receiving). "You spend too much time on that stupid bike!" could be better positioned as "How about you do a two hour ride early on Saturday morning and then we can spend the rest of the day doing stuff, together, at home".  And, in response to version one, you could ask, "Does the duration of the ride bother you or is it just because I'm away from home when you'd rather that I was with you?".

Avoid discourse by being open about your sporting needs - and they are, for the most part, needs. And what it means to you. Put your training and participation in context and, of course, be fair - both of you.

(Comments welcome; I'm sure there are many of you with lots of experience from which other readers will benefit)

Media release: Kilian's Quest

A media release on Kilian's Quest - interesting read.

Kilian’s Quest to Take on Tahoe Rim Trail

On September 28th, ultrarunner Kilian Jornet will take on the Tahoe Rim Trail as the North American component of his audacious worldwide trail-running challenge.

“Kilian’s Quest” is the personal trail-running odyssey of Catalan runner Kilian Jornet, who has quietly become trail-running’s brightest phenomenon. Mountain-born and with a background in ski mountaineering, the Catalonian has dominated the SkyRunning World Series, won The North Face Ultra-Trail Mont Blanc two years in a row, and recently pulverized the record for traversing Corsica’s 120-mile GR20 trail (32h, 52m) during his first stop for Kilian’s Quest.

While this dominance of Europe’s ultrarunning competitions is noteworthy, it is his youth that makes Kilian perhaps a once-in-a-generation talent: he is 21 years old -- and has launched the Quest to find the world’s most significant trail challenges and apply his speed and endurance to running them faster than anyone ever has.

Kilian’s journey along the Tahoe Rim Trail will wind him through a 165-mile (266km) loop wrapped around the largest alpine lake in North America. The trail is comprised mostly of multiuse single-track, connecting the peaks along the ridge tops of the Lake Tahoe Basin. Passing through California and Nevada, the trail ranges in elevation from 6,240 feet to 10,338, with a total elevation gain of over 21,000 feet. The current non-stop record for the trail (45h, 58m) was established in 2005 by ultra-runner Tim Twietmeyer.

The focus of Kilian’s Quest is centered on running the most majestic peaks and trails in the world, and while his journeys are intended to merely pit an extraordinary athlete against legendary challenges, he is capable of setting new records at each point in his odyssey.

Paul Guimond, Salomon’s Senior Marketing Manager, said “Salomon has an extensive history of supporting extraordinary athletes. Kilian is a unique athlete, and his quest is something we want to support because it will help establish new levels of human accomplishments in the mountain environment. Moreover, Kilian is re-uniting the worlds of runners and hikers and makes the trails the new aspirational sports playground. ”

Readers and bloggers can follow Kilian’s Quest through his Face book page, (, via Twitter ( or on his blog (

About Salomon:
Salomon was born in 1947 in the heart of the French Alps and the birthplace of modern alpinism. Driven by passion for skiing and design innovation, Francois Salomon and his son George designed and perfected many of the first modern ski bindings. During the following 60 years, Salomon's commitment to innovative design and passion for mountain sports created a vast range of revolutionary new concepts in bindings, boots, skis and apparel for both alpine and nordic skiing and brought innovative solutions to footwear, apparel and equipment for snowboarding, adventure racing, and many other sports. Today, Salomon products are sold in over 160 countries and the brand is a global icon. Through performance driven design, Salomon delivers innovation and progression to mountain sports; converting new ideas into action and expanding the limits of possibility. Salomon's heritage, culture, and commitment are tied together by one simple concept: the world’s leading mountain people creating the world’s leading mountain product. Salomon, the Mountain Sports Company since 1947.

Monday 21 September 2009

Awesome ultra mountain runner: Kilian Jornet

I recently caught word of an awesome ultra-distance mountain runner, Kilian Jornet. This 21 year old Spanish runner hit the 'mainstream' ultra headlines last year with his win at the gruelling Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc (he won it again this year). I know a number of people who have done this race and most, competent and experienced trail runners, have only made it half-way. To win this race is something...

Kilian's background is in ski mountaineering where he has excelled in the Spanish Euorpean and World Championships as a junior. Now a senior, he logs Top 5 placings a Championship events and is currently the European Champ.

He started mountain running in 2005 and notched numerous victories. In 2007 and 2008 he won the Buff Skyrunner World Series. It's hard to believe this guy is only 21!

Last month, Kilian embarked on something called Killian's Quest. This is a year-long tour of some of the biggest trail running challenges in the world. As his first challenge, he ran the GR20 trail on the island of Corsica. The trail traverses the entire island. He took HOURS off the course record.

This month (28 September), he'll line up in Tahoe City to take on the 165 mile (264 kilometre) Tahoe Rim Trail. Trail legend Tim Tweitmeyer holds the current record of just under 46 hours. Current predictions see Kilian going well under this time.

There are some great videos (click on the Video tab) on the Killian's Quest website. Kilian and this endeavour are backed by Salomon.

This is one guy to keep an eye on - wouldn't it be great to see him at Skyrun?

Sunday 20 September 2009

A very funny website

Yes, as children were aretold by our folks not to make fun of people who are different... I receive an email from a friend in the US yesterday afternoon, which had a number of very funny photographs. I went to the source and I've been giggling since - belly laughing at many of them.

The site is and it hosts photos taken of shoppers (and their cars), by shoppers, wearing really weird clothes - among other things.

I also quite enjoyed reading some of the Love and Hate mail sent to the site's creators. I agree that it is not on form to make fun of people with disabilities or deformities (site admin agrees); but if you go grocery shopping wearing superhero outfits (as an adult) or transform your car into a stegosaurus, then you're fair game.


Bubbling with pride

This morning, at the Kinetic Urban Adventure, two of my Abu Dhabi Adventure Challenge (past and present) were also on the top of the podium. Christiaan (ADAC 2008) won the mixed pair category, with his partner Landie; and Alex (2009) won mixed team.

Chris has assembled an adventure racing team, Team Gijimas, from a squad of friends. Many were racing today and looking really smart in their team tees. They are also getting the adventure racing club scene going again in Pretoria (keep an eye on and the AR email group for notices of PTA evenings).

Alex has brought a number of friends into adventure racing and orienteering and he is building a good mixed team around himself.

Choosing teammates from a submitted application form is a tough call; but when I looked at both of these guys on the podium today I was very proud of what these two guys have accomplished and will accomplish in the years to come.

1st at the 4th Kinetic Urban Adventure

With Lauren away at Southern Storm, we were fortunate to recruit Carine to our all-girls Triumph AR team for this 4th Kinetic Urban Adventure held from the Broadacres Shoppng Centre in the Fourways area. Big buzz and lots of teams present at the race - and the venue (Outer Limits Restaurant) looke festive with sponsor banners all over the place and the big inflatables in the garden.

The race format was a little different for this event. There were the two cycle legs (one orienteering-style on a rod map and the other with rally-style instructions), as before. The first run leg related to a map of the Broadacres Shopping Mall and our instructions guided us from one location to the next - we had to answer questions on each of the locations. What I only found out some time after the race is that we could get the checkpoints in ANY order; rogaine-style. We went in number order! Probably cost us 15-minutes...

The second "run" leg was hosted by the nearby Virgin Active gym. This was a relay where we each picked a discipline - rowing, treadmill, stationery bike - to do a 1km distance. We chose well with Debbie on the rower me on the treadmill and Carine on the bike.

And fnally, those large inflatable obstacles.

Although there were alot more all-girls teams (12 I think), we managed to hold on to our first place. Again we were spoilt by Heidi and Stephan and their team with our first place vouchers followed by lucky draw prizes. Again this was a superb event and I can definitely recommend that you come to the 5th and final event of the Series, which takes place on Sunay, 29 November 2009. Venue to be announced. These events are also perfect for first-timers. Heidi, Stephan and your team - well done! We love taking part in your events.

Finally - and most importantly - our thanks to Triumph for their sponsorship of our team entry. We also get fabulous Triumph sports bras with each race so we get to try different styles in Triumph's range. We're all Triumph girls anyway, so this really is a treat.

Monday 7 September 2009

Golden Reef 100 - 2nd place!

Yay! We completed the 161km Golden Reef 100-miler in a respectable time of 14h06. Our Adventure Racing Club team (me, Tony Abbott, Matthew Gray and Tommy Booth) had a great night out to place second.

Silver Sands Casino finish - Tommy, Lisa, Tony and Matthew

The first team, a pack of racing snakes, was far ahead - possibly two hours or more - and the next team behind us was at least two hours back (we have not yet seen results). Sadly the field was small with only 6 teams (about 20 individuals did the run solo), a substantial drop from 2007 and 2008.

Our strategy this year was as follows:
Matthew and I ran the first 6km and 6.5km respectively; these were designated changeover places. For the next 130-odd kilometres we rotated at 4km intervals (eight rotations), which gave us each an hour break between runs - we were running fairly even 5min/km splits. Just after sunrise we changed into 2km rotations (three sets). With 5km to go, we did a three 1km runs and then ran the last 2km together.

The one thing that makes this run challenging, despite the relay format, are the breaks between runs. When we finish our run, we hop in the car to drive 4km to our next changeover. At night it is cold outside (good temperature for running!) so we stay in the car for the hour interval between runs, wrapped up in warm clothing. Sitting makes your legs sore and our legs, especially hammies, were quite tight by half-way, even though we'd only run about 20km each.

The element that makes this race fun - yes, f.u.n. - is the team component. It is not often that we get to do runs as a club team (the only other event being the Gauteng Orienteering Relays) and the comraderie is motivating. We're proud to be AR Club members and to compete - and do well - in our club colours is rewarding.

Special appreciation, from all of us, go to Izaan - Tommy's wife. She very kindly offered to be our driver. She spent the whole night awake, keeping focused on measuring out the rotation distances and keeping alert for our runners approaching. Having her there really made a big difference.

My team was fantastic with a good vibe and consistent and even running throughout the 14 hours we spent on the road. Well done Team AR Club!

Team Adventure Racing Club: Matthew, Lisa, Izaan, Tommy and Tony

Thursday 3 September 2009

Golden Reef 100-miler - tomorrow night

Yay! I've hit the ground running - literally. Just off the Gore-Tex TransRockies Run, I landed last night and tomorrow night I'm in a 4-person relay team for the Golden Reef 100-miler.

I did this event two years ago in an Adventure Racing Club team . This time around we've got two original members, me and Tony, plus two new recruits, Tommy and Matthew. We'll be running in our club colours.

This is a superb event and although I'll be like a zombie on Saturday - we start at 19h00 and run through the night - I'm sure it will be just as much fun as the first time around. Woooohooo! Photos and fun to follow post-race.