Wednesday 27 August 2014

Five weeks to FEAT

Just as a cobbler's children have no shoes and a plumber's taps drip, so I've been negligent of FEAT here on my blog.

Today I announced the first speakers in a newsletter to subscribers and publically. It's a double-whammy with Ryno Griesel and Cobus van Zyl. They'll be speaking about what went into setting the Drakensberg Grand Traverse record earlier this year.

I'm fortunate to have wonderful support from FEAT sponsors and friends in helping to promote the event.

This weekend Powertraveller are at the Getaway Show in JHB with Cape Union Mart and Trappers. They're offering a cool deal where anyone buying a Powermonkey Extreme solar charger will receive a FEAT ticket.

Outdoor Freedom is an outdoor store in Centurion. Leon has been a long-time supporter of FEAT. He has two tickets to giveaway - by lucky draw - to a customer who makes a purchase of R500 or more until 30 September.

What has really struck me with this FEAT are how FEAT regulars are really spreading the word and bringing along their friends - sporty and non-sporty alike. The block bookings are rocking!

I was at the Linder about two weeks ago to sort out the projection and lighting setup. Standing on the stage looking up and standing right at the top looking down gave me such butterflies! It's an impressive venue!

That's the AV guy on the balcony. FYI - the stage is 16m across and 9m deep
Next picture taken from near the open stage exit door (bottom left of stage).

Ja. It's a good thing that I love a crowd ;)
As always, there are many hundreds of bits and pieces that go into the event - September is usually the month for details as all the big things - like venue, MC, speakers, flights, sound, AV and lighting are booked anything from nine to three months before the event.

I hope to see you there too.

Tuesday 26 August 2014

Three remarkable young men

Last week I travelled to Polokwane for orienteering / navigation coaching activities. First was an orienteering teacher workshop in the settlement of Lebowakgomo, which is about 40km South of Polokwane.
I've mentioned Ephraim a number of times - he's our star and an accomplished orienteering mapmaker. A natural from the get-go. He recently wrote his final exams for his electrical engineering studies. His focus is on heavy current.

 Tebatso was with me for the Big 5 O earlier this year. He is also an engineering student. He came through to GOC Champs in June and he assists Ephraim with the Polokwane Orienteering Club.

 And then there's Lefa. I first met him at the GOC Champs in June when he came through with Ephraim and the other school and college students. He's another Ephraim-recruit from college - also engineering. Like Ephraim, Lefa's 'hobby' is doing architectural drawings - floor plans, external views from all angles. You can't believe how good they are!

 These three young men have just written their final theory exams. There are problems with Eskom and thus their practical (apprenticeship) opportunities, which are meant to start now that they've completed their exams. But, Eskom are having issues and can't accommodate the students.

 Instead of wasting their time lazing under trees, these guys are back at their old schools as teaching assistants, helping with maths classes - and bringing orienteering activities to their schools.

 At the teacher workshop, all three were on hand to assist with the orienteering activities, explaining the games to the teachers with one-on-one attention. They also helped me with putting out and collecting cones. 

I'm just so impressed with them as there are so many unemployed (and retired) people who waste their days when at the very least they could be sharing their skills and abilities with communities and organisations who need volunteer assistance.

 These guys are making their own opportunities but I can't help feeling that they may appreciate an open door, especially in the engineering realm, which is what they have studied. They currently reside just South of Polokwane.  If anyone reading this blog has the scope to employ / provide apprenticeships for these bright, self-motivated young men, please drop me a note and I'd be delighted to put you in contact with them.

Monday 25 August 2014

Let's talk about hips, baby

There's something to be said for good posture.

A few weeks ago I developed a sore right knee. As I've never had knee problems this was very strange and unwelcome. Shortly after this I whacked my knee badly - on a rock - while playing at Suikerbosrand. A week of rest healed everything - mostly.

I've put the initial pre-bash niggle down to new road shoes.

The reason I put it down to shoes is:
  • I ran about 70km at Washie in my old shoes. No problems.
  • I run 6km in the new shoes and I'm left with a sore knee
  • Footfalls shouldn't be noisy - light, think light. The new shoes seem to make me land differently and my footfalls are noisier. 
  • I ran in old shoes for a week; no problem. I run once in the new shoes; sore knee.

I've given the shoes to a same-foot-size friend and he's rocking them. During this process of elimination I started thinking about posture because I felt that the shoes had affected my posture.

A fundamental principle of ChiRunning is "practice good posture". PoseMethod also promotes good body position. It's easy to get lazy.

My foundation in running for more than a decade was done on a treadmill. Kilometres and kilometres of treadmill running. Long distance, speed intervals - all of the above. What the treadmill has in its favour is that it eliminates variables like uneven surfaces, slacking off, barking dogs, pavements and cars. You can focus entirely on running and posture and good form. If you can catch a reflection - even better. With a reflection you can self correct - shoulders, arms, back, hips, legs and feet. It really is an underrated training tool.

For me, if something niggles, it is 99.9% likely that my posture is off. Too many hours spent on my computer is mostly to blame. Sitting is a posture where you're always bent at the hips and we usually spend more time sitting than running so it is hardly a surprise that this filters into our running. When we run, we want to be straight and tall, with a slight forward lean from the torso. We shouldn't run like we sit.

And so, for the past few weeks I've been focusing on my posture, tweaking my head and shoulders and back and neck and hips. And I chatted to my Wednesday running buddy about this too. He'd been thinking exactly the same thing that week. We ran our run, self-correcting along the way.

Around the same time (about two weeks ago) I chatted to another run friend who was experiencing knee niggles. "Hips," I said. She agreed. It was something on her mind too. Must be hip season. 

And hip mobility. This is something I first cottoned on to through yoga and also pole and circus school. Most foundation postures are hip openers. Open hips makes so many postures possible. Poor hip mobility will result in bad posture and niggles/injuries. Yoga is great for improving hip mobility.

I think that the biggest running posture errors stem from the hips (tilted too far forwards). Everything is connected and if one part is out of alignment, it will push the others out and that's when niggles (and later injuries) occur. This makes me think of the Bones Song...
The toe bone's connected to the foot bone,The foot bone's connected to the ankle bone,The ankle bone's connected to the leg bone,Now shake dem skeleton bones!
The leg bone's connected to the knee bone,The knee bone's connected to the thigh bone,The thigh bone's connected to the hip bone,Now shake dem skeleton bones!
And it isn't only knee niggles that occur as a result of bad posture and hip positing. Glute issues and ITB can probably be throw into the mix too. 

Good hip positioning results from solid core stability and a conscious effort to run with good posture. When you're out running this week, every few minutes think "Hips!" and self-correct as you run. That's what I'm doing on my runs. See whether it makes a difference to your footfalls, landing impact, posture and feeling of lightness. Works for me.

Sunday 24 August 2014

Rocky, O so rocky

This weekend was quite a rocker on the local orienteering front. I didn't do the Kloofendal event on Saturday but I was most definitely there for the Mountain Marathon event today. This was a new map for me as I haven't been to this venue before.

Rocky Valley is exactly that - rocky. It has some open veld (where we didn't go!) and a number of rocky ridges. The more open sections had small rocks underfoot (runnable). The sides of the ridges tended to have bigger rocks - grassy in some places. Most of the area has burned at some stage this winter and it is actually a blessing because you can see the rocks. And lots of cliffs too. The map looks boulder-cliff-contour feature crazy.

A Mountain Marathon has at least 600m of climb (I think that's the value) on the longest (Brown) course. We were in for lots of climbing today. Notable was the first climb up to Control 1, also to Control 6 and the climb from Control 12 to Control 13. Lung-busting stuff! The most runnable section (for me) was from Control 4 to Control 5.

Here's my route.

Route in yellow. Red circles? Blood! I took a circle of skin off the side of my left hand -  a graze from a rock. Fortunately it was only a thin layer of skin taken off - not a cut. But now that all the dirt is out it feels like exposed nerves. It ain't a good event if there isn't blood... 
I don't move very well over this very rocky terrain. Leaving Control 9 my clubmate Brian was with me. He blitzed down the hill and I kept expecting to see him fall on his face - but he just ran beautifully and didn't trip at all. I'm far more skittish and cautious.

My nav today was spot-on; I just lose time from not running hell-for-leather on this terrain.

So, let's see where I made errors today.

Control 15 to Control 16

Looking at options... First option was to run across the top of the ridge towards Control 10, where I'd been earlier. I knew the terrain here and it would have been reasonable to go from Control 10 and down the path, below the cliffs (continuous line/row of cliffs marked by thick black lines) and to Control 16.

Second option was to head down, below the ridge and the rocks - to the more open contours and land (solid black squares / rectangles / circles are buildings). Here it was probably very runnable. And then climb up from the building below Control 16.

I thought option 2 would be better... except I didn't end up doing it. I started descending and the the going was ok over the rocks so I decided to contour instead of losing height. I passed control 11, where I'd been earlier. Nice point of certainty as to my elevation.

I actually thought that I was pretty on track and hit the marked cliffs clearly. But Control 16 was actually far lower down than expected. I would have done better to come up from the building marked below it. I ended up bum sliding down steep rocky sections. It was a steep drop down to the control... but not as bad as what I'd encounter later...

Control 23 to Control 24
It is really easy to make mistakes on the last few controls leading to 'home' because concentration wanes. I'd been out there for almost 2.5hrs by then.

I hit Control 23 beautifully (coming from 22). The ridge looked steep straight ahead (steeper than indicated by the contours) so I dropped down and then contoured. Where I really screwed up is that I wasn't totally paying attention and hadn't quite realised that Control 24 was sitting in the same valley that I'd ascended going to Control 1 early on.

What added to me making an error here is that as I was heading for my first control from the start I'd seen my friend (on a different course) heading up before I did. So I kinda had that in my head that I wanted to take an earlier re-entrant ('valley').

*sigh* As far as I can recall I mostly went where I've drawn the yellow line. In short, I took an earlier re-entrant and almost got cliffed out. I bum-slid down a tight gap that wasn't ideal (definitely not ideal by orienteering standards - fine for adventure racing...) and then had to contour below the cliffs to get to where I wanted to go. It's nonsense to be playing silly buggers on the second-last control.

As for the last control - 25... I ran the path on the way back - towards the start. I reached the grass and realised that I hadn't seen Control 25. *sigh again* There were two controls flags (individual locations) that I'd seen along the path and although I hadn't looked at them I knew they weren't mine. But then I thought... what if they are? For the last control there are always two timing devices - and the ones I'd seen were singles.

I backtracked, reached the other controls, hadn't seen Control 25, turned around again, noticed the pool of water and from there nailed the crossing bridge, the final control and the finish. I just hadn't been concentrating.

The as-the-crow-flies course distance was marked at 8.6km. I an 9.86km. I was expecting around 12km so I evidently travelled pretty directly.

Officially the women's course was the Blue one; but I love the longer distance of Brown. I was the only woman on Brown today.

My thanks to RACO for presenting this event - it was a good one!

Wednesday 13 August 2014

Grey revolution

Last year the 32-year old Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, was seen sporting grey roots at an event shortly following the birth of little George. And what a hoo-ha this created.

More than 10 years ago I remember the bashing that Hilary Clinton got when she left her hair au natural (I remember reading an article in TIME! magazine... geezz). There's more discussion about her hair (up, down, colour, length) than there is about what she does.

Men go grey. Hair disappears from the top of their heads (and can end up running down their backs instead). But that's ok. That's 'distinguished'.

Women... women have been discriminated in the workplace and even fired for going grey and refusing to continue to colour their hair...

Consider that 95% of women colour their hair... going grey isn't very popular (but it is gaining momentum!).

I found my first grey hairs at 21. By 28 I had quite a lot, so much so that after a few not-very-complimentary comments I leapt into a dye bottle, keeping my hair colour as close to my golden brown natural colour as possible. I've never really approved of the process, but I did it anyway.

My hair grows fast and I have a pet hate - visible roots. On myself and on other people. I had to dye / touch-up every four weeks. By the time I turned 34 I had a lot of grey. And I'd had enough of the hamster-wheel.

It really was a "Fk-it! I am who I am" moment when I decided to stop dying. And I haven't looked back.

I went to my hairdresser, told him my plan to stop colouring. We chopped my long hair short to cut out as much of the colour as possible. And so began a process that took about eight months. Every few weeks we would chop out the colour until it was all gone and my hair was completely un-coloured.

My mom got onboard too. She had been colouring for years and figured that she couldn't have a daughter with grey hair while she kept up the illusion of colour. She also cut her hair short and together we went grey.

Sure, my face looks different surrounded by a predominantly grey colour compared to the warm golden brown of my pre-grey days. It's something you get used to - much as we get used to looking different as we lose hair and gain weight.

Releasing myself from the dye bottle was intensely liberating. It was like the life-altering moment in my first adventure race when I stood on top of the Drakensberg with a map in my hand and realised that I had the ability to cross mountains and get myself from A to B by any route that I chose. I could also choose to just be me and to be comfortable with this.

This past weekend I had a good conversation with two guy friends, both in their early 40s. We haven't seen each other for years. They were asking me about my decision to leave my hair grey. Both were very curious - and supportive.

Strangers too - mostly older men (like my dad's age or older) - occasionally stop me in malls to commend me on leaving me hair as it is, especially as my face is younger than expected. It's a contrast to have 'old' hair and a young face.

Just because your hair goes grey it doesn't mean that you're old. You've just got grey hair; like auburn, red, blonde or brown. Grey is a colour too.

Here's my theory... Most men are probably A-ok with their wives, partners, mothers, sisters and colleagues going grey. It is us, women, that is the bigger problem. We bound the feet of little girls to trade them off to men, we strapped ourselves into corsets to achieve teeny-tiny waists and we still squeeze our feet into high heels... and we (women, media) put pressure on women to dye their hair - maintaining an illusion of 'youth'. It's only when more women stop dying that grey will become more accepted.
  • By the time most women reach 40 they have a good degree of grey; not all, but most
  • Unless you're regularly going to a professional (and even if you are), it's very clear that your hair is dyed
  • That darker shade you keep choosing is hard on your face and makes you look older; too blonde has the same effect
  • After three or four weeks we can all see your roots and just how much grey you have
  • Lots of wrinkles and dark hair... they don't go.
Maintenance is intense - and expensive. A very attractive friend (same age as me) spends a bundle each month on maintaining her coloured tresses. And the more grey you have, the harder the maintenance challenge.

Today I took another step in my Grey Revolution. I added more.

Grey doesn't grow through nice and evenly. You get more on your temples or more on your crown. And hair doesn't go grey overnight. It takes years.

My mom, who has more grey than me, tried a tinting procedure a few months ago. She was my guinea-pig. Our hairdresser pulls strands of hair through the holes of that swimming cap thing. The hair is bleached and tinted grey. Because it is so finely distributed it doesn't show 'roots' and can be left without maintenance. You don't have to touch up or repeat, unless you want to enhance the grey further, which my mom did a few weeks ago with great success. The addition is subtle and if I hadn't told you about this, you wouldn't notice a dramatic difference. You still won't. It's just that the grey is a little bit more evenly spread.

At the salon there were a number of older women there, all dying their grey away. When we were done, they looked at me approvingly and with wistful eyes. They've probably been dying for 30 or 40 years!

The challenge is to transition. From coloured hair to natural hair.

Here are some ideas:
  1. Take advantage of the CANSA Shave-a-thon to shave off all your hair for a good cause. If your hair is long enough, donate it to CANSA's wig makers.
  2. Cut your hair as short as you dare to get rid of the colour and keep trimming regularly until all the colour is out. Headbands are wonderful accessories.
  3. Speak to your hairdresser about using highlights or low lights to break up the solid colour, steadily letting your own grey blend in. My hairdresser is pro-grey - I'd be happy to pass on his details.
  4. Use demi-permanent dyes, which don't fully cover grey. As it fades your natural colour will come through.
  5. Plan a six-month long adventure. Cut your hair short and spend six-months travelling.
Going grey revolutionises your life and liberates you from self-inflicted restraints. It works for me.

Here are some worthy reads:

Green Kalahari Canoe Marathon

I'm a bit behind after spending most of last week in the Northern Cape for the three-day Green Kalahari Canoe Marathon. The event takes place over three days and covers 100 kilometres on the Orange River between Upington and Augrabies.

I first visited this area in 2001 when I ran in the Kalahari Augrabies Extreme Marathon. This was my first multi-day staged race in a semi-desert, sandy environment. It is also a self-sufficient race where you carry everything with you for the week. AND, one of the six stages was an ultra, which I ran throughout the night and loved it. This race very much changed my sporting direction and was instrumental in where I am now and what I get up to.

I had the fortune of returning to this area many times over the next few years for other events; but it has been many years between my last visit and now.

It was up here that I met and befriended Gawie Niewoudt - he's the organiser of the event and owner of Khamkirri, a wonderful accommodation and activity venue on the Orange River across from the town of Augrabies. Gawie launched this canoe race three years ago and so it was my absolute pleasure to join his team and to write (and Facebook) on behalf of the event.

Aside from this being a superb event, what it has done it to make me crave kayaking and I'm dusting off my K2 to ready it for paddling this weekend - and beyond. I can't think of anything else! The beauty, grace, speed, rhythm of paddling... It has been a few years since I paddled regularly. While paddling is a physical discipline, it is also quite meditational. I enjoy paddling with a companion in a K2 but perhaps this summer I'll finally get the hang of a K1 (I got half-way there a few years ago).

Here are some photos from my time in the Green Kalahari last week.

'O die donkie' - sightseeing in Upington
The event invited children from nearby schools to cheer for the paddlers at bridges and at the finish. It gave the event a wonderful vibe - the paddlers felt like rock stars - and the children delighted in seeing the paddlers in action.
A three-boat sprint for the finish at the end of Stage 1 - incredibly exciting

A four-boat diamond

People really make an event. This trio from Craddock (David and Michael with Kirsty as their support) had different designs painted on their every day.
VERY exciting racing on the third and final day. Watching this raft of kayaks charging at full speed for the daily bridge prize - like Oh wow!
The water level was very low, which made for more portages and bumpity-bumpity sections on rocks. There are a number of rapids on each stage. This was fairly tame.
Graeme Solomon's brand new kevlar boat took a knock on Day 2 and took them out of the running for the win.
We made a quick pass after the race to see the Augrabies Falls. I accompanied the foreign teams. Even though the water is low, this is a sight that I never tire of.

I first visited Khamkirri in 2001 during the Kalahari Augrabies Extreme Marathon. I hadn't bathed for three days and I was incredibly salty, sweaty and, certainly, smelly. The lush green lawns and the inviting water of the Orange River... I've always felt very much at home here and this time was no different. This is Khamkirri on Sunday morning, as I was departing.
My media buddy Cameron Ewart-Smith took many beautiful photographs of the race. You can see them in the albums on the Green Kalahari Canoe Marathon Facebook page.

Tuesday 5 August 2014

Hi-Tec Haraka, road shoe (review)

In April I reviewed the Hi-Tec Shade, a road shoe that I've really enjoyed (and still currently enjoy). I've had this Haraka model for at least 2.5 months but I've been sitting on this review because I can't quite make my mind up how far I'd run in it. But I am quite clear on the Haraka being a versatile, comfortable and good-looking multi-purpose trainer.

Let's take a look at the Hi-Tec Haraka.

Shoe: Hi-Tec Haraka
Terrain: Road
Gender: Women's shoe
My shoe size:  UK8, US 10, EUR 42
Weight: 222g
Price: R699.00

Although I always urge runners to ignore the colour of a shoe when making their choice, it's hard to ignore attractive (and unattractive) colours. This pink-blue-white colourway is very, very pretty indeed.

I've put in more than 80 kilometres (straight-up running) into my pair. The longest single run being no more than 15 kilometres. I wear it many times a week as a casual-wear shoe.

The model
The Haraka comes in a men's and women's version. It is marketed as being "Ideal for wear at the gym, during fitness classes or running round the tracks (or just to the shops!)"

The weight
At 222g, this shoe is heavier than the super-ultra-light Hi-Tec Shade (an unbelievable 185g per shoe), but it is still lighter than most other road shoes. And you can feel it when you put the shoe on. This is one thing that Hi-Tec really excels in - producing light-weight shoes.

The fit
It's a wide shoe with a last (the inside shape of the shoe) that presents no lumps nor bumps underfoot. It's a comfortable and simple fit that is unlikely to interfere with most foot shapes and will be welcomed by those with broad feet and those who appreciate more room for forefoot expansion and toe wiggling.

In this picture these shoes actually look quite similar. They feel a lot different. The Shade is more narrow and the heat-moulded upper is soft; it spreads with the foot. The Haraka has a more sturdy upper with stitched support. It just is more roomy.
I always wear socks with my shoes and I found nothing inside these that scratched nor bumped nor rubbed. The sole is neither too thin nor too thick - but this will depend on your personal preferences. For me, it's a midway outer sole. These are very comfortable shoes.

This is the one area where the shoe doesn't quite suit me. Look at this photo.

I wear my running shoes relatively loose - such that I can pull on the shoes without untying the laces and I don't like laces to be too high. If I lace the Haraka in the upper-most hole (left image), the laces 'push' the tongue into my foot-ankle-bend, reduces the size of the foot pocket and just feels too high.

On the other hand, when I skip the upper hole and go one down (right image), there's almost too much space - or too much tongue. I only ran for about five minutes with the laces in the upper-most hole before dropping it down one, which works just fine but feels just that little bit too low - we're talking millimetres.

Different shoes for different purposes
When I look at a pair of running shoes I ask myself, "Would you run 100km in these?". Yes, I know. It's not really the right way to approach each and every trainer because running shoes are definitely suited to different purposes.

  • Would I run 100km in these shoes? Probably not. But they'd probably make it too.
  • Would I do Parkrun in them? Yes.
  • Would I run 10km in them? Yes.
  • Would you wear them to the gym for circuits, group classes, treadmill and cardio machine work? Yes.
  • Would I wear them with jeans? Yes - and I do, most days.
  • Would you pack them in your bag when you travel? No, because they'll be on my feet. I'm travelling to the Northern Cape in the morning and I'll be wearing them on the plane - and to social gatherings and around the place and to walk here and there and... I haven't left home without them since I received them.
As always, I recommend that you take your socks with you to the store and try on the shoes. Many shoes. Remember to try one size bigger and smaller to what you think to make certain that you're getting the right size -don't go on numbers alone.

If the shoe fits with no unsettling lumps and bumps and the foot-in-feel is good and your heel doesn't lift out the heel cup when you walk (try them on stairs too) and your toes can wiggle and your foot is comfortable... then buy it.

Note that Hi-Tec very kindly sent me this pair of shoes to wear, enjoy and review. I'm not sponsored by Hi-Tec and I have the freedom to review their products without bias.

Sunday 3 August 2014

Mohale's East - Bush O

The series of Bush Orienteering events (formerly called colour-coded and then cross-country) are definitely bushy. It's this time of year when our events head onto rough, rocky, grassy and bushy highveld terrain. They're my favourite-favourite of the orienteering events. This was my first one since Gauteng O Champs in June.
Hip-hip-hooray for Adventure Racing Club!
At each event there are a variety of courses ranging from short (like 2-3km) courses for newcomers and children to the long and technically challenging Brown courses. The short courses stick to paths; the long courses head into the vegetation.

At registration this morning there was a new guy. So Sarah B, who was handling registrations asks him which course he is doing. "Brown," he says.

"How much orienteering have you done?" I ask.

He's a bit hesitant.

"Only a few."

"Then I don't think you should be doing Brown."

Here's the thing. People see that the course is 'only' eight kilometres. But in orienteering this is as-the-crow-flies. And, even if actual distance turns out to be 10km, you've got to find your way through bushes and down crags and under fences. It's not a straight-up 10km.

But, he's keen to do Brown.

"OK," I say. "But, you've been warned. We'd like you to come back another time."

We once had some less experienced adventure racers on a property across the road (same terrain) on an 8km Brown course for 5hrs...

He was good humoured and in for the adventure. Ja, no, well, fine.

Here's my full map.

My first six controls were a breeze. Having just passed through the gate and en route to #7, the new dude caught me. He started three minutes behind me. Not bad!

We both made an excellent error here.

Gate to Control 7
I quite enjoy errors because I like the problem solving involved in getting out of it.

Here's my approximate route...

 So, heading North I came through the gate. I could swear that there was a junction and I took the right split... Evidently not! I wanted to be on the road next to the fence (but looking now the road I was on was actually a really good option). But then that funny road shape didn't really happen. It was around here that I saw the new guy and so I asked how he was doing and we had a quick few words. He then left the road and ducked into the grass to our left. I thought he was heading in too soon so I carried on down the road.

This mistake was totally because I wasn't paying attention. I mean, there wasn't even a fence to my right, which there should have been. Aaarrggghhh... so silly.

I ran on the road until about the light green / boulders on my right. I could hear and see the new guy thundering through the bushes on my left. I headed into the grass. There was a lot more contour action happening, similar to what I was expecting on the way to #7.

We met up and figured that we'd done something really stupid. We could see the road outside the property and that how we knew we'd missed our split and had, in fact, been on the wrong road. Soooo elementary! But it does happen. Just to keep you on your toes. Navigation has no sympathy.

So, we shot off back to the road (always a good recovery measure to head back to your last point of certainty). Boom! There was the intersection, the road and easy-peasy to the control.

We stuck together for the rest of the course. He runs a bit faster than me but my lines were better.

Control 8 to Control 9
We had a good route here. I just wanted to show you some options.

From #8 you can see the road on the other side of the spur (see where the orange arrow is pointing). My new buddy wanted to head that was, straight for the road.

"Have you seen the dark green and the cliff on the way there?" I asked.

There's first a lot of drop into the valley and then a steep climb up through vegetation.

He joined me on a route to the road. Sure, there was some steep climbing, but far better on road than crawling through thorn trees.

From Control 10

Straight line through the grass, vegetation and rocks... Or rocky off-road run? Ja.

At Control 11

An easy one. Really. Run road. Reach T-junction. Keep going past the first vegetated boulder cluster. When I got to where I thought the control was I didn't see it. Surprise, for sure. I was about two metres from it. I'd checked my control descriptions and, as I recall, I think it was to the West of the boulder feature. Mmmm..

Then I wondered whether my distance judgement was out. Further down I could see other boulders but it looked too far away. Mmmm.

I walked to the start of the vegetation but it was definitely not right. I turned around and thought that I'd better look around the rocks where I'd been because I really hadn't looked thoroughly when the control wasn't where I expected to see it. My friend started moving towards another cluster of boulders incase we'd hit the wrong group. And then some other people found our control as I was approaching - only it wasn't their control.

Lo-and-behold we'd been on target, metres initially from our control. Doh! This is what happens when you chitter-chatter at orienteering! A long, easy no-thinking road run plus chatting and the mind does like porridge!

My new O friend did really, really well. He has orienteered in the UK a few times and he said that he did indeed underestimate how challenging this highveld terrain would be. He has a British Military background and thus foundation nav skills. Although he doesn't know all the orienteering colours and symbols, he's mostly on track with map orientation, route choice and moving over rough terrain. Today he learned to fold his map (we were on an A3 map today) and thumb (place your thumb on where you are). With a bit more practice in this type of environment he'll definitely climb up the ranks (and hopefully join my club - hahahaha).

The rest were all straight forward.

Highveld terrain. complete with barbed-wire fences.
I ran with Runtastic on my phone today. I've been interested to see how much data the app uses over a longer period of time. I had the app running from before I started. Total time was 2h17 and it used 1.74MB.

I covered 10.78km.

Any event where you're crawling like an animal through bushes, squeezing between barbed wires of fences, using your hands to get up embankments and drawing blood is an event worth doing ;)

I thought that I'd grazed my leg on a rock near control 9. It was stinging for ages and I looked down to see blood on my gaiters. Aaaahhhh... All cleaned up now. Looks like a bash and cut combo. Swelling should be down by tomorrow. And my tetanus shots are up to date. 
This event was presented by the youthful WITSOC club. Well done to Sarah Roffe on her first foray into course planning - I enjoyed your Brown course. And thank you to the other WITSOC helpers for presenting this event today.