Thursday 28 April 2011

Girly conditioning

It's the Royal wedding tomorrow and, like many other girls, I'm going to be glued to the set to watch the procession of horses and marching soldiers and the carriage and, of course, her dress, hair, tiara or not-tiara, flower girls and bridesmaids...

Guys seem quite oblivious - and I think it is all because girls have been 'princess conditioned' from the day they are born. Indoctrinated may be a more appropriate word.

I have vague recollections of watching Prince Charles and Lady Di's wedding on telly - of course I saw that movie/doccie subsequently (a few times, no doubt). I also remember Prince Andrew and Fergie's wedding, but it didn't have the same fairy-tale sheen that Charles and Di had.

I grew up listening to - and reading - classic stories of princes and princesses. Rapunzel, The Princess and the Pea, The Frog Prince, Snow White, Cinderella, Little Mermaid, Thumbelina, Rumpelstiltskin... And who could forget dear Sleeping Beauty. I was brought up on the real, non-Disney versions - books with hand-drawn illustrations. I had a lovely book of Hans Christian Anderson's stories and another of Brothers Grimm's tales.

Little girls are affectionately called princesses, they role-play as princess - dolled up in tiaras and pink nailpolish, they have princess parties and their Barbies come with princess dresses and accessories, including a castle and prince. Yes, a charming (and handsome) prince, everlasting love and 'happy ever after' are part of the princess package.

The prince and princess thing is just not a part of little boys' education, which is probably why male humans will be the only ones roaming the streets, while their female friends and relations are grouped around teevees. A lass on the radio today said that she and her friends are having a princess party, while watching the wedding tomorrow. They're dressing up as their favourite princess - tiara and all. Sounds fabulous. I'd go for that ;)

Although I'm a nonbeliever in the reality of the prince and princess fairy tale and I'm certainly not a royalist, I have been sufficiently indoctrinated to like the idea of the whole lot of it.

I loved these classic stories as a child; and I still like them now. I love going to friends' weddings - I always get misted up with happiness for them. I'm just as bad with chick flicks when the ending is a fairy tale one. These movie characters may not be princes and princesses, but the recipe is the same.

So, as a result of my girly conditioning, I'm looking forward to tomorrow's spectacle and I'll delight in every aspect of Prince William (I remember when he was born) and Kate's wedding.

Tuesday 26 April 2011

Lovely Drakensberg

I had a lovely weekend away in the Drakensberg with AR and orienteering friends, Alex, Sarah, Nico, Salome and Tony. From the moment we drove out of Jo'burg, we hit nasty traffic on the N3 South - crawling. We expected traffic but couldn't believe it could be so bad. Being adventurous types, we navigated off the N3, past Suikerbosrand and on to the R59, heading South past Vereeniging and then detouring through a handful of small towns (Petrus Steyn, Reitz, Kestell) - places I've never been. It turned into a long, but interesting road trip through to the Monk's Cowl area of the central Drakensberg.

Alex and Tony looking at route options to keep us off the N3.

Lots of potholes and stop-go interruptions past Harrismith
We stayed at the Dragon's Peak campsite, which is about 5km from the Monk's Cowl trailhead parking lot. It's a huge place that caters for campers, caravans and it has chalets. It is quite a family-orientated place with jungle gyms and trampolines and horse riding activities. We had a good sized campsite, which Nico and Salome has established the day before. We were lucky to be in a good position near the showers and with neighbours only to our left and right. And although there were loads of people around, we didn't feel boxed in at all.

This venue, like others, hike their rates over Easter weekend - from their usual R90pppn to R175pppn - for camping! Personally, I think it is greedy to hike rates, just like South African hotels, airlines and others did during the World Cup. But, when you want to go away and they're the only place still with space... To their credit, we had hot water in the showers and the bathrooms were kept spotless by the cleaning staff.

On Saturday we took the morning at a leisurely pace before heading up the Blind Man's Corner trail, below Cathkin. The morning started out with a blue sky dotted with white clouds but by the time we were on top of the Lower Berg clouds descended to obscure views of the nearby peaks.

My play buddies. (L-R) - Tony, Sarah, Alex, Nico and Salome.

10-second self-timer... 3rd time lucky. Posing with the new edition of Outer Edge, an awesome Australian magazine.
The mag did the rounds this weekend, passing from one to the next. Clouds obscuring Cathkin Peak behind us.

Instead of taking a big, wide trail along the contour path and back to the parking lot, we decided to scale the hill at the junction (no trail) to eat our sandwiches and enjoy the view. This was a real treat.

'Lunch Hill', at about 2100m. Clouds rolling around.
Sarah and Salome almost at the top of 'Lunch Hill'. Previous photo taken from where the blue arrow is pointing.
It was pretty windy and chilly on 'Lunch Hill'. Snap! Alex and I are both wearing our First Ascent rain jackets. When my old GoLite jacket needed replacing at the end of last year, I bought this one.

Sibling pairs on 'Lunch Hill'
We took the Kearnsey (name?) trail back down, stopped to see two waterfalls and walked back to the parking lot to meet up with Nico and Salome - they did the waterfalls the day before. We spent the late afternoon drinking tea and trying some acroyoga before the rain arrived.

Sterkspruit Falls
We extended our patio by rigging a shelter from groundsheets and we played 30 Seconds in sibling teams. Alex and Sarah are siblings; Nico and Salome are siblings; being an only child, Tony was my adopted sibling for the weekend. We won ;)

The day dawned clear on Sunday morning. Alex and Sarah made a breakfast cookup and then we headed through to the Drakensberg Sun parking to do the walk to The Grotto and Barry's Grave. All nice and leisurely.

We got back mid-afternoon and lazed around on our camp chairs drinking tea and munching rusks. Alex and Tony cycled through to Mountain Splendour, to try the 10km mountain bike route there. They met the Don-Wachopes (Iain and Sue) and came back muddy. While they were away the girls took a nap, Nico went walking around the camp and I did a good yoga session. I'm really chuffed with my headstand (25 breaths) and L-shaped headstand. Awesomeness!

Nico and I got to making a fire for our dinner braai and had roaring flames by the time the guys returned from washing their bikes. We had a little help from a neighbour, who contributed some dry wood to our pile of not-so-dry, recently-purchased logs.

A real fairy forest leading to The Grotto.
Lunch at The Grotto
And so, another night passed and we woke up in no hurry on Monday morning. I love 10 to 11 hour sleeps while camping. By 10h20 we had packed up and were on the road. The N3 back was busy, but swiftly flowing.

And that was that, a weekend zapped. Super to go away and play with friends in the mountains. Thanks friends ;)

Friday 22 April 2011

Non-event weekend away

I'm going away for this long weekend. And it isn't for a race - it's just for fun. Like a h-h-h-holiday.

I've never been much good at holidays and at least since I started university in 1994, my vacations have been very much around sporting events. First, intervarsity and interclub underwater hockey tournaments, and then adventure races, ultra runs and other similar events. I can count the number of non-event getaways I've had on one-and-a-bit hands.

About three years ago I tried to take a five-day holiday. Although I did lots of super road and trail running, I didn't like the place where I was staying (pre-booked and paid in advance); I came home a day early. That was disappointing.

I also rarely go away over Easter or xmas and New Year, preferring the quiet of Jo'burg to busy roads and venues. This weekend I'm in for it all hook, line and sinker. Easter. Busy roads. Busy venue in the Drakensberg...

But, I'll be playing with five orienteering and adventure racing friends in the mountains, which is the lure that got me. I haven't been to this area of the 'Berg for a few years so it is going to be wonderful to run trail after trail. I've got my Salomon Crossmax and Hi-Tec Infinity trail shoes packed - they haven't had much opportunity for testing on good trails so the next few days they'll see lots of action. My friend Ray has lent me his GoPro camera so I'll give it a go making a little video of our runs in the mountains.

I've also packed my yoga mat for some self-practise sessions. I'm now just over two months into my regular (like twice a week regular) yoga practise and tonight in class I took note of some of my advances since I started. I can almost do a seated forward bend with my tummy flat on my thighs (I couldn't two months ago), my hands can just grab on to each other during the seated twists (they couldn't touch before) and my headstand is rocking (I've always been able to do headstands but with less discipline). I can get into headstand with straight legs and just this week I've managed to lower my legs into an L-shaped headstand, tipping my toes on the ground and bringing 'em back up again. Yoga. Mountain scenery. Ja, a good mix.

I've also packed in my acroyoga manual. Friends, your acroyoga initiation is about to begin ;)

One of my camping buddies, Sarah, has packed the boardgame 30 Seconds. I've got a deck of cards (Snap!, Go Fish, Blackjack and Rummy being my favourites). I've also packed some magazines that I've been wanting to read... And my picnic blankie (for a post-run nap) and my camping chair for being a lazy-ass while I read my magazines.

Rain is pretty likely but, as I've heard said, there's no such thing as bad weather, just bad gear. I've got my rain goodies packed.

I also think that I'm going to sign up for the beginner kayaking classes (white water plastics). I've never been in one and I fancy learning to eskimo roll. Brrr... water is going to be freezing.

OK, so I'm not much good at sitting around doing nothing, but it is a progression from event-only 'holidays'.

So... I'm outta here in the morning and actually feeling pretty excited about my first proper holiday in a few years ;)

Wednesday 20 April 2011

The scents of running

I mostly run in the late afternoon / evening. It's a time when there are so many wonderful (and sometimes, not so wonderful) scents around. I was reminded of this yesterday evening when I ran past a guy who was a smelly smoker and then past two women who smelled of coco butter lotion. Further on I ran past houses where aromas from dinner were wafting out on to the street and then past an open piece of ground where the scent of wet highveld grasses dominated. And then down a main road where a queue of cars were waiting for the lights to change: nasty, choking car fumes.

Scents are, for me, very much part of running - whether on road or off. Fragrant flowers in bloom, animals - horses, cows, buck, droppings, dinners cooking...

Some of my strongest - and fondest - memories from races are of scents. There's the incredible memory I have of a surprising, fresh citrus scent that I noticed as we rode through a little settlement in the Cederberg in the early morning. There were no people around, just this lovely scent surrounding the few homes. This was the Cederberg 500km adventure race. And at Jungle Marathon in Brazil, a staged-ultra, I remember clearly the rich, fertile scent of the jungle floor. It was one of those smells that literally hit my senses as we started the first stage, moving from the clearing near the river into the jungle proper.

Smells also stand out for me in normal everyday interactions. I got a giggles a few weeks ago while picking out a DVD in my local store. A woman walked past me and I thought that she smelled like toilet air freshner... The smell persisted for a while after she passed so I looked around and spotted one of those automatic air freshener dispenser things. It must have dispensed just as she first walked past me.

I've never quite understood room air fresheners because they smell like toilet air fresheners, which never really smell like 'ocean fresh' or 'green meadow'. Toilet sprays are designed to transform the odour of poop and when they're sprayed in rooms other than the toilet, they still smell like toilet sprays. Ja, room sprays are meant to be different to toilet sprays, but they're not really. And, as a result, I though that poor lass smelled like a toilet. Hahaha.

When you go out for your next run, open your nostrils and give some attention to the scents around you. I do find that taking in more than just what I can see makes my runs more enjoyable and memorable.

Sunday 17 April 2011

A muddy Kinetic Adventure

This morning it was the second Kinetic Adventure event of the year and after almost non-stop rain over the past two days, it was bound to be wet and muddy out there.

The race was held from Amazingwe, near Hartebeespoort Dam, which we rode through last year. This wedding and conference centre is also some to the Ama Zwing Zwing  zip line activity. For the race last year, and this, we just zipped down one of the lines - there are more all linked to each other. The ropes guys here are so on the ball; the best display of bulk efficiency and proficiency I've ever encountered. They were as good this year as last at getting what must have been around 250 people through the zip line swiftly.

I'm again racing in a three-person women's team for these Kinetic Adventure events. We don't have Triumph as our team sponsor again (new marketing manager in place just before the series started) but we're keeping the all-girls thing going and just racing as Team AR. I'm mixing up the team this year and having at least one new girl with us for each race.

Lisa, Vicky and Jackie
 My racing buddies for this race were Vicky and Jackie. Vix raced with me in February and this was the first time that we've raced with Jackie. And it was Jackie's first time racing in a girls team. We race hard but we also have fun - it's not the heads-down hard-paced racing of the front mixed teams. We definitely have time for calls of whoop-whoop along the way and lots of laughs. 

Taking the slide down easy - these obstacles look like harmless jumping castles but they're not.
If you slide too fast and land hard you could be in for a broken ankle - Jackie knows first-hand.
Jackie enjoyed her all-girls experience. And, even better, we beat her husband, Alistair; she usually races with him. OK, so Al and Dean with Greg damaged their map and rode like headless chickens in the wrong direction until they found Richard & Rika - and then us. But still, we beat his team. Al, you're not going to live this down any time soon ;) 

Always time to wave to the crowds ;)
The course was a good one with a long mountain bike leg that took us though some fabulous mud, like I haven't seen for a long time. Sticky, thick and mushy. On the short little dam paddle, I was the non-paddling piggy-in-the-middle; my first time ever! I've paddled on all of the races so it was a nice change. The cycle was a good one with an excellent mix of terrain and super scenery. We also saw some buck and a mommy zebra with her baby.

My muddy buddies. Jackie, Lisa and Vicky, with Calvin
Yay! Up on top. Vicky's son, Calvin, joins us.
We were delighted to take our place on top of the podium - we like it up there. Girls reading this post, we're definitely not unbeatable and I challenge you to get your girl friends together to make a women's team. It is a fun format racing with girls, expecially for these short events.

Again Heidi, Stephan and their team of people who put these Kinetic Adventure events on did brilliantly. Super venue, routes and vibe. The planning of races takes dozens of hours - I know from experience! - and yet the event itself takes place in a fraction of that time. When you're juggling family, friends, full-time jobs... Heidi and Stephan, your presentation of these races is very, very appreciated. See you all at the next one on 26 June.

Saturday 16 April 2011

Hi-Tec Infinity Challenge

I think I know why it is called the 'Infinity Challenge' - and it ain't because of the new Hi-Tec Infinity trail shoe that has recently launched... it's because this two kilometre distance feels like an infinite distance when you're running at a 7% gradient! Hahaha

Today I took on the Hi-Tec Infinity Challenge and, lucky for me, it was held at the Cape Union Mart store in the mall not two kilometres from home. After a morning of being all over Jo'burg, I got through to the store at a bit after 14h00; in time to catch AR friend Jeremy on the treadmill. Nathan and Michael had already run.

I've had the Challenge on my mind since it started this month and I've been looking forward - apprehensively - to it the whole week. Just thinking about the 'race' elevates my heart rate. I mean, I'm going into this Challenge knowing that I can't run two kays on a flat road in the 8:30 time-to-beat. It's a little daunting to contemplate giving it a good shot with an added incline.

The super friendly Hi-Tec crew added to the vibe and in next to no time it was my turn. A number of runners had blown completely by the end of the first kilometre - going out too fast - so my strategy was to take my usual conservative approach to make sure I had the legs in the latter stages to work it.

Out of the gates: Ian giving me encouragement

My objective was to keep it nice and steady, especially as I was essentially going into the run cold, and to work the incline as it increases by 1% automatically every 130m. I didn't want to die a death and end up hanging on to the machine or spat out the back...

After 500m, Jeannie is already 230m ahead of me...
I brought along my MP3 goodie, on which I have tunes that are chosen for their pacing - number of beats per minute. Music on a treadmill, for me, is a big kick, especially when I'm working hard. It keeps my focus and the pacing keeps me on track. I didn't want to slack off or be too distracted by the spectators.

In the zone with not much further to go. Is Ian laughing at me? Hahaha. Bruce on my left.

Although my overall result was... kuk, for my personal running I was pretty pleased. I kept a consistent pace as the treadmill went up and up and up. Sure, the Jeannie Bomford avatar was running away from me; but it would have run away from me on a flat road anyway.

Ian reminding me that I don't have far to go because Jeannie's avatar is nearing at the end. I'm still climbing! The red bubble on screen warns of yet another 'Steep Incline Ahead'.

What was interesting from today's Infinity Challenge was that times were consistently than the coastal runs from the first and second weekends in April. Both Ian and Bruce ran slower times. Altitude. The mall is at about 1700m. Jeannie's time was set at sea-level but even taking into consideration a 30-40 second slowing, I would have still finished 400m behind her.

So, I ended up about 600m behind Jeannie *sigh* What was quite frustrating was that as I was approaching 1.3km - still running uphill - Jeannie's avatar was flying on the relative flat at under 4km/hr. I've never even run at under 4km/hr! ;)

Clutching my Hi-Tec Infinity Challenge Buff and water bottle. Yeah, breathing hard!

What I was pleased about it that I ran the incline steadily and strongly - more so than if I'd been on the road. The mucis helped to keep my pace consistent and to avoid the temptation to slack off. And by the end of the incline I still had gas in the tank for the rest. But then Jeannie's avatar reached the end, meaning the end of my run too.

Participants get to try a pair of Hi-Tec Infinity shoes, if they don't have their own. I have the green men's model; so I gave the ladies shoes a try for the Challenge. Personally, I prefer the mens shoe. Suits my feet better (and that green is delicious!).

My efforts did score me a very cool Infinity Challenge Buff for my collection; I'll take it to the Kinetic Adventure event tomorrow, which I'm doing with the girls - Vicky and Jackie. We've had rain since Friday so tomorrow is certain to be chilly and wet.

Ian, Ben and your Hi-Tec team - thank you for a really fun and challenging Infinity Challenge. A super set-up that was well organised and the screen and bit were fabulous.

Thursday 14 April 2011

What is perfect?

On Monday I was on a mission to get maps and stuff printed for the metrogaine on Tuesday night. Walking in the mall from one side to the other, I noticed one of those promotional cosmetics counter things. It was actually their banner that caught my attention as their logo looks very similar to Coco Chanel... They're in a similar industry - couldn't they at least be original?

Anyway, the young foreign chap at the stand catches me as I walk past. Turns out he's from Jerusalem. He's only been here for a month. There seem to be lots of them around; there's another one at another, similar, cosmetic stand in another nearby shopping centre. This chap is friendly, he seems to know his products and he has a nice manner.

I would rather be on my way because I'm really not interested in what they're selling and I know without asking that these products cost way more than I'd ever pay on lotions and potions. I don't like being one to just whiz past so I stop and listen to him.

He does his thing and also asks about my lifestyle, recommending appropriate products, like sunblock and a nourishing moisturiser. He gets me to exfoliate my hands with this sea-salt stuff - it's exactly like the stuff that the other dude with the other brand at the other counter in the other mall got me to do a few weeks ago... I didn't really like it because of a greasy after feel. Same with this one.


After being walked through all kinds of things, I ask how much the two products he is punting - serum thing for better absorption of their products and a moisturiser.

The serum stuff is R2400.

The moisturiser is like R2000.

He adds that the moisturiser will last 12 months; so what's R165/month eh?

So I say that I get his reasoning and that sure, the product will last 12 months, but that it is a lot of money for this product that I don't want or need.

Anyway, he makes some special deal offers like buy one, get one or a 40% discount on just the moisturiser... I still decline

I'm trying to leave. He asks me if there are things I want to improve about my skin.

I say no.

I've got good skin. Even as a teen I was rarely plagued by zits. And with all the outdoor stuff I have done sunblock, hats, shades, arm protectors/long sleeves for many, many years.

Then he asks whether I think that I'm the perfect woman.

Cheeky swine, preying on insecurities.

I answered no because that's the answer he expects and wants. But I did add that I'm quite happy with my skin, that I don't have any issues and I don't have any problem areas that I want to fix. I don't get greasy T-lines, I don't have wrinkles and as a Jo'burg girl who has grown up on the dry highveld, I've moisturised daily since I was about seven years old.

The thing is... what is the perfect woman or perfect skin. Both are artificial constructs. Cover models? I've seen enough before and after images to know that they've got good facial structures and that's it - make-up and Photoshop gives them unnaturally flawless, pore-less, hairless, blemish-free skin. Really, it is skin-free skin.

He lost my attention completely when he tried to sell me a 'perfection' I'm not interested in. Preying on common insecurities and challenging people on their appearance in order to sell overpriced products is low.

It probably works on others; doesn't work on me.

I don't care for his or any other 'perfect woman' construct.

I'm a perfect me.

Wednesday 13 April 2011

Metrogaine fun - awesome results

At last night's metrogaine, held in celebration of's 10th birthday, Nathan Thompson ran a phenomenal course to collect 880 points. He covered just over 22 kilometres in 90 minutes!

It's the first time that a metrogaine has been held in SA and many participants were absolute newcomers to the rogaining concept. A metrogaine, unlike a traditional off-road rogaine, is an urban event. Both are navigational point-score events. Participants are provided with a street map from which all street names and significant features - like names of hotels, petrol stations and the like - have been removed.

Many numbered circles on the map indicate control locations and they're points-ranked according to distance and/or difficulty to locate. In this case, there was no physical event marker at the control location. Instead, runners had to select a multiple choice answer from a clue corresponding to the control number as proof of locating the control.

It is fun but also challenging to plan this kind of event - looking for variety in clue questions and answers, distribution and points-ranking of controls, ensuring sufficient distance on the course and route-choice options and updating the map to indicate road closures, boom access and any pedestrian accesses.

When I measured a long, high-scoring route that appealed to me, which didn't get all the controls, I came up with just over 20 kilometres and I thought my planning was safe. I mean, who can run 20km, at night, while navigating and choosing routes, in only 90 minutes. I'll tell you who can. Nathan Thompson. Although he didn't get all of the controls, he did get most of them. Nathan recorded his distance at just over 22km!

Special thanks go to my mom, Liz, for helping to bake and ice some 70-odd cupcakes and for handling registration. Also to Heidi and Stephan for kindly hosting the metrogaine from Kinetic Gear.

The map below shows the routes run by Nathan (880 pts, 1st), Nic & Jane (610, 2nd) and Steven & Tony (580, 4th) (click on image for bigger one).

And below is Roland & Ben's one-hour course route (340 points, 3rd place) on Google Earth.

  • 54 participants (9 solo runners, 21 pairs, 1 trio)
  • 16 entries for the one hour course
  • 14 entries for the 90-minute course
  • Highest points on the 90-minute course: 880 (Nathan Thompson, solo)
  • Longest distance covered on the 90-minute course: just over 22km (Nathan Thompson)
  • Highest points on the one-hour course: 450 (Motlatsi Mutlanyane, solo)
  • First pair on 90-minute course: Nicholas Mulder and Jane Swarbreck (610 points)
  • First pair on one-hour course: Alex Pope and Magi (360 points)
90-minute courseRun timePointsMinutes latePenalty pointsTOTALNOTES
Nathan 1:34:0988055875
Nicholas & Jane1:29:13610610+10 for #13 (Lesley)
Ant & Wes1:26:40600600
Steven & Tony1:27:52580580+10 for #11 (Moon/Wood)
Robert & Stuart1:27:32570570
Brian1:26:20550550#27 incorrect answer
Lobby & Pam1:25:53490490
Wiehan & Lizelle1:25:05460460
Andrew W. & Caroline1:25:12420420
Louise & Jackie1:28:03320320+10 for #13 (Lesley) and +10 for #11 (Moon/Wood)
Jonathan & Pauline1:19:46210210
Blue Sky 1 (Susette)1:31:0531022308
Blue Sky 21:31:0531022308#28 & #38 incorrect answer
Dino1:39:5026010(5+10) = 15245#10 & #38 incorrect answer
One hour courseRun timePointsMinutes latePenalty pointsTOTALNOTES
Motlatsi1:03:2045044446#17 incorrect answer
Alex & Magi1:01:1036022358
Roland & Ben0:59:31340340
Kim1:11:0635011(5+10+5) = 20330
Hazel1:11:0635011(5+10+5) = 20330
Andrew W.0:58:45300300
Katharine & Mark0:58:45300300
Ildiko &Graeme0:54:15230230
Gareth & Monique0:56:20170170
Heidi0:54:00150160+10 for #17 (Spiky)
Tommy & Izaan0:53:40130130#13 incorrect answer (Lesley)
Ronelle & Yaseen1:06:521307(5+4) = 9121#38 incorrect answer
Ray & Liz1:08:021309(5+8) = 12118+10 for #11 (Moon/Wood) and +10 for #13 (Lesley)
Caron & Patsy1:04:211005595#13 incorrect answer (Lesley)
Damon & co1:01:10502248#33 incorrect answer
Andrew R. 20:454040Had to leave early.

Monday 11 April 2011

AR's 10th birthday

Can you believe it? A decade! Today, my big baby,, turns a hefty 10 years old.

From a few hundred visitors, AR now greets a few thousand visitors each month. And these visitors originate from over 80 countries!

The site has been through various designs over the years. The logo too evolved from a squiggle to a contour-line type logo (I liked this one but was far too complicated for embroidery and such), to the current logo, which has been around for about six years - I think.

The domain,, has been around for just over nine years. The original domain was adventure-racing. Hypens in addresses are a bad idea - too many people don't know what a hypen is.

The site has sometimes been a pain in the butt with updating articles, reports, calendar, answering emails... especially when I'm snowed under with work. There are so many things I'd love to do - time and finances being limiting factors. I'm still sitting on a couple that I hope to get going over the next few months.

For the most part, AR is my pride and joy and the reward for me has certainly been the difference that it has made to so many people by getting them involved in the sport and the travels and opportunities I've been able to jump at directly as a result of the site. - happy 10th birthday!

Full Moon Run on Friday

Another month has passed. Crazy!

Although the moon is only full in a week (Monday, 18 April), we'll run this Friday night, 15 April.

Same procedure as before.

Meet outside Vini's on the upper level, exterior of Bedford Centre (cnr Smith & Arbroath Roads, Bedford Gardens).

Meet at 19h00. Start running at 19h15. Please wear reflective vest / belt etc. It's dark out.

Run will be up to 1h30 in duration. Pace is 5:30 - 6:30. Very chilled vibe. We stop and check out views etc.

Pizza and drinks at Vini's afterwards.

Friday 8 April 2011

Colour fun

It all started last year when my local residents association did a drive to get people to knit squares for blankets. I had an idea for project, which I wrote down and left it at that. Early this year my mom found something online that triggered my idea again. So, I got surfing and discovered that so many cool things are crocheted, not knitted. It's the one hand-craft that I've never gotten the hang of (not that I'd ever really tried).

Turning to the net again, I learned the basics of crochet and in the process found this fun and friendly knitting and crochet blog; her colours are vibrant and her posts have got me all enthusiastic about trying my hand at various projects.

It took me a while to settle on a yarn. Pure wool gives me goosebumps (like scratching a blackboard) and so do some of the synthetics. I found locally -made and hand-dyed natural options: 70% cotton twisted with bamboo thread, 100% cotton and 100% bamboo. The blend is a little uneven and rustic; the 100% yarns are even, smooth and silky. Love 'em. And the colours rock.

Through the blog I discovered a crochet book of motifs - shapes, which I ordered online. It arrived this week. And so begins my crochet adventure!

Handcrafts like knitting and crochet have a bad wrap; they're associated with old folks. And yet they're fun, rewarding, colourful and they keep me off my computer ;) And, I think I almost prefer crochet to knitting because it is faster and more interesting.

I'm not very fast and I'm still gaining familiarity with the basic stitches and reading patterns as I currently work on my 4th motif in as many days. I hit the yarn store yesterday and loaded up with some lovely colours. The 100% cotton is my favourite for the crochet motifs because they show the stitches better than the blend, which I love for knitting and chunkier crochet.

The headwarmers... they're divine! I love my fleece-type sporty headwarmers, which I use big time for winter adventure races to keep the cold from my ears. These are pretty versions (band is knitted, flowers are crochet) and will be perfect this winter.

Thursday 7 April 2011

Is it really important?

As I heard the news this afternoon of another earthquake just off the North East coast of Japan, slightly closer to the island that the quake of 11 March,  I again had thoughts of just how fragile and insignificant our everyday activities really are.

I love writing - articles, releases, blog posts; I love assembling content and interacting with people through and FEAT and other work projects; I enjoy reading magazines, surfing websites; I devour books; I love my family, friends and kitty dearly.

But, if a tsunami hit, what - if anything - of my daily activities would be important? None of the above, except of course for family, friends and every other person encountered in the ensuing chaos and devastation. Ah... my poor kitty. I'd definitely try to save her but when you're in a situation like that I don't think that holding on to a terrified kitty with her claws embedded in your flesh is an easy task.

As for the content on my laptop, books... it can all go bye-bye because in the big picture, it just isn't important.

And yet this is what consumes most of my waking hours. Why? Because it is what is done. We've got to work to keep a roof over our heads, food on the table, cat in the luxury to which she is accustomed and all the trappings of society as we know it. My various hobbies, sports and activities fill the non-work hours.

I just think it is weird that most (actually, almost all) of the things in which I invest my time, skills, energy and passions are not really important outside of life as we know it. Thankfully I'm really good at organising stuff, people, activities, projects - handy in chaotic environments.

Ah man, another earthquake and an accompanying tsunami warning for the same area... Japan, my thoughts are with you.

Just read on BBC that tsunami warning was lifted 90-minutes after it was issued.

Tuesday 5 April 2011

AR's 10th birthday party - a metrogaine

I've had 'organise a metrogaine' on my list of things to do for ages - like 18-months ages. What better excuse than to celebrate 10 years of by running a metrogaine.

What is it? A metrogaine is an urban point-score navigation event. It's a rogaine but in an urban environment. Running or walking (or both!).

Date: Tuesday, 12 April 2011
Venue: Kinetic Gear at the Exercise and Nutrition Centre, cnr North and Rivonia roads, Rivonia (Jo'burg)
Registration: from 17h00

Time: 18h00 for 18h30 start.
Entry format: individual or pairs
Entry fee: R25 per person

Enter as an individual or pair and receive a map (each person receives a map) on which checkpoints are marked. A cluesheet will guide you to the control locations. You will have one hour or 90-minutes (two courses) to walk, jog or run to as many checkpoints as possible.

The map is a regular street map BUT, street names and identifying features have been removed. Only basic navigation skills are needed to locate checkpoints using the clues provided. Compass skills are not required.

You will be penalised for each minute that you are late. Entrants will receive a 'happy birthday' cupcake on completion of the metrograine.

Bring: As this event is run at night, please wear a reflective bib / belt to ensure your visibility. The course is run on roads, so trail shoes are not necessary. Also bring a headlamp. There are not street lights on all of the route and you'll need it to read your map anyway.

RSVP: For printing of maps, please RSVP by 10h00 on Monday, 11 April 2011. If you're on Facebook, you can RSVP on this event notice. Alternatively email I will print some extras but I can't guarantee that I'll have spare maps for you if you don't RSVP. Tnx.