Monday 29 June 2015

Bush orienteering - a lovely long leg

Our orienteering calendar has a variety of events. The beginning of the year is dominated by the Urban Series, a collection of 10 events that are held on urban terrain - places like university campuses, large school properties, city parks, botanical gardens and golf courses.

With winter comes the start of the Bush events, which are my favourite-favourite. Here the navigation is more technical and the terrain more challenging, especially up here on the highveld were we have rocks and grasses and bushes and wag-n-bietjie thorny trees and rocks and rocks...

My club hosted the Bush orienteering event at Hennops Farm yesterday. This was the second event of the Bush Series; there are eight in total from now until mid-October. Margaret did the controlling with Pascale learning from Margaret and trying her hand at assisting with planning.

I ran the brown course - and what a superb course it was!

For the most part my navigation was more than spot-on and I thoroughly enjoyed this terrain that really allowed us to move 'as-the-crow-flies'. There was little restriction to our movements due to vegetation and so for the most part I avoided the paths and played with straight-line navigation.

There was one leg of particular mention - between Control 2 and Control 3. Heading to #1 and #2 I'd folded my map and leaving 2 I unfolded my map to reveal the next leg.

"Oooohhh weee!" I shrieked with glee as I started running towards my destination.

There were two options here...

  1. Head back the way I'd come (a gate in the uncrossable fence) and run on the trails heading for Control 3 (yellow line)
  2. Go cross-country (pink line)

Let's take a look.

I didn't go totally straight-line from 2 to the fence corner to avoid dipping-into and climbing-out-of the valley. That's why I took the track along the fence, which made for easy, no-brainer running.

Most went for 1 (yellow). Margaret seemed to think that 2 (pink), which I went for, was actually faster because you don't drop and then climb up again - the gradient is more pleasant. Mmm... I'm not sure.

I wasn't particularly racing and I stopped to chat to Celliers for a bit near the fence and then I overshot 3. The road continued a bit further than indicated and I actually went off the map, which I realised immediately and backtracked - but I lost time anyway as I was a bit uncertain how far I'd overshot. So my split for this leg really won't be representative of the potential of this route.

Assuming two orienteers of similar speed and ability take on each route, which do you think would work out better?

Overall this was a very, very enjoyable course with great direction change and spot-on control placement. I really loved that I could go straight-line for most of the controls. Gauteng Champs are on this next weekend in Hilton, KZN and the next Bush event is on 19 July at Big Red Barn, also presented by AR Club.

Dead of Winter Run not that cold - again

With morning temperatures predicted to sit on 6°C for Saturday morning, we thought that this may be the first of our 'Dead of Winter Emmies to N1 Run' to actually be cold and wintery. In past years conditions have been sunny, warm and pleasant.

Driving from home to Fred's shop just after 06h30, it was already 9.5°C according to my car. Nice. And it was even more improved by the time we set off at 08h30.

Turnout this year was better than ever before. I didn't write a post about this last year but I seem to think there were only four or five of us running. This year at least 40 runners joined us.

This is a casual and social run and the runners settled into groups of matched pace. I was in good company with Ian, Sarah (x 2) and Nick. Good company and great conversation as we made our way along the Braamfontein Spruit. The distance was around 18km and we were rewarded with a lovely breakfast on the far end.

Next one will be in the dead of winter next year.

We (Adventure Racing Club) are thinking of coordinating a "Heat of Summer Emmies to N1 Run" - we'll let you know.

Monday 22 June 2015

Wearing gaiters, a winter run and bush orienteering

John Vonhof this THE foot guru and his book 'Fixing Your Feet' is the best foot care resource for runners and hikers. This wonderful guide is in its 5th edition and AR Gaiters feature in the book. John also writes informative and educational foot care blog posts (subscribe to his feed for free) and his most recent one is about the value of wearing gaiters for blister prevention and a host of other foot-care related reasons.

On Saturday morning we've got our annual AR Club Dead of Winter Emmies to N1 Run. It looks like we're in for a chilly run, which is unusual because our Dead of Winter Run has been warm and sunny the past few years. Well, it is a Dead of Winter Run and we've been angling for a frosty morning. Looks like we'll get our wish this year. 

And then on Sunday morning AR Club is hosting the second Bush orienteering event of the season at Hennops, which is North of Fourways on the road to Hartebeespoort. There are a bunch of courses available for all ages and levels of experience. It really helps us for you to pre-register on orienteeringonline so we print enough maps. It's free to register on the site and makes pre-entry quick and easy.

Understanding ignorance - a new MOOC

The world of MOOCs is a wonderful place. This are Massive Open Online Courses. They're available on the internet and cover more topics and themes than you can imagine. And they're free.

I haven't done a MOOC since the bunch I did early last year and I've been keeping an eye out for one. 

My new course starts tomorrow / Wednesday and it is hosted by edX. The course is called Ignorance! It is offered by the Australian National University and runs over five weeks.

In the course description they write:
Ignorance is everyone’s business. Ignorance is relevant to every discipline and profession, and to everyday life, both at work and at play. 
We will explore questions about ignorance such as: Where does ignorance come from? How do we impose ignorance on each other, and even on ourselves? And why? We usually think about ignorance as a bad thing, but can it be preferable not to know something? How do we use ignorance? What roles does ignorance play in social interaction, group relations, institutions, and law? Can ignorance sometimes be a virtue? When can ignorance be good or bad for us? How can we harness the unknown for learning, discovery, and creativity?
A few months ago the best friend of a lady-I-know passed away. Apparently she had a quick-onset cracking headache and was very ill. By morning she was dead.

The lady-I-know said her best friend has died because of the stress of her car being stolen a few days earlier.

I explained about meningitis - the onset, symptoms and prognosis. This seemed the most likely cause. I thought that the lady-I-know would think about this and consider that this (or something similar) could be the most likely medical explanation for her friend's passing.

A few weeks later in a random conversation she again mentioned the car theft as the cause of her healthy, mid-30s friend's sudden passing. It troubled me that she was ok with this.

Ignorance comes about when a person lacks knowledge. I'm not quite sure what you call it when you don't ask questions and you don't consider other possibilities?

I hope to learn more about ignorance over the next five weeks.

Wednesday 17 June 2015

Copy-cat events

On Monday I had the most lovely lunch with a dear friend and she told me about a new series of night runs on Jo'burg golf courses.

"But that's what Heidi and Stephan have been doing for the past few years," I exclaim.

The Kinetic Night Trail Runs are held on Wednesday nights - the first Wednesday of the month. Course distances are 4km or 8km and they use a barcode timing system. Their entry fee is R70 pre-entry or R100 on the night. Prizes for a variety of entry categories are Trappers vouchers to the value of R300, R200 and R100.

This other bunch, fitCAL, had an event in May and there's another in June (I don't know which other months they've had - and will have - events but I assume they're monthly). Monday nights, it seems. Their distances are 5km and 10km. Certainly double-lappers too, like the Kinetic runs. Pre-entry is R100, late entry is R150 and on the night is R200. Timing is ChampionChip so if you don't have  one you have to buy one. Their prize money is cash, and a lot of it. 10km: 1st: R2000, 2nd: R1000, 3rd: R500 5km 1st: R1000, 2nd: R500, 3rd: R250.

Considering that upwards of 600 people participate (or even many more!) and only six people receive the prizes, prizes are of little relevance to me.

When there are so many creative things that can be done with events, I don't see why fitCal chose to do what someone else has been doing already for years. But, there you have it.

Imitation is, supposedly, the sincerest form of flattery. I just think it is lazy.

Many days of running

After three weeks of illness I've been back to running for a week and it is nice to see my mileage gaining ground again. I've kept up daily running - or walking - since I started my annual pre-birthday game on Saturday, 25 April 2015.

It was meant to be '39 Days of Running' - in celebration of my 39th birthday. I started my runs early this year as I would have been at Expedition Africa. But as I stayed home, I decided to just keep going. Tomorrow, on my birthday day, I'll clock '54 Days of Running/Walking'.

I'm heading off for a birthday surprise this afternoon. I don't know where I'm being taken to for the next few days. I do know that it isn't too far away (no driving for hours) and that there are some mountain biking trails.

Celliers writes in his packing instructions email, "There are some mtb routes, not sure how long. Just pack your cycling clothes then. And clothes/shoes for walking/running. But I guess that is a given. :-)".

He's a fast learner.

My mom has baked me a delicious chocolate cake with a decadent chocolate icing. She reports that there is a slab of dark chocolate melted into the icing. Yum!

The internet has some good - and funny - images related to birthdays. Here are a few for 39. Big one next year.

Monday 8 June 2015

12-hour Dawn 2 Dusk circuit race entered

Nine years ago I ran my one-and-only 12-hour circuit race (thus far). I had such a great experience there. The race that I did, the Toyota 12hr in Randburg was discontinued the following year and I recall entering Dawn 2 Dusk in Pretoria but was unable to make it as I ended up running in India at the five-day Himalayan Stage Race.

Over this past weekend my friend Asa (the same person that I seconded at Washie last year) tagged me on Facebook for the Akasia Dawn 2 Dusk 12hr circuit race. He lives in Malawi but will be in Jo'burg over this weekend and so he was scanning event listing to see what he could catch while in town.

I didn't even hesitate.

"I'm in!" I replied.

Our entries are in and on Saturday, 29 August 2015 we'll be running many, many one-kilometer laps. This event is run during the day, not through the night like the other one that I did. I enjoy running at night, but this daytime run is definitely easier on our supporters.

D2D route drawn by Fanie Naude (thank you)
My goal is to better my distance of 98 kilometres that I did back in 2006...

Last night I had a good jog-walk following this past week of throat infection and meds. Now that I've had cough-cold-infection for three weeks I hope that this is it for the rest of the season!

It is now the time to log a lot of running - race coming!

Thursday 4 June 2015

I've cancelled the June Metrogaine

For the past few years I've always had a Metrogaine in June, on or near the Winter solstice. This year there's just too much on the go that I'm involved in and so I made the call to cancel it.

Here's a bunch of stuff to keep you warm and active in June.

Who said winter was for hibernating??? 

I am planning an open (do anytime you want on foot or bike) Metrogaine for the Sandton CBD for October. This is transport month and we're hosting the Ecomobility World Festival. If you haven't yet heard, Sandton CBD will be closed to private vehicles (yes, pedestrian and cyclist friendly environment) for the whole month! Depending, I may coordinate a night-something in later October, after my annual FEAT event on Thurs, 8 October 2015.

More GOOD NEWS is that here are a bunch of fun navigation options to keep in mind this month.

Sunday, 7 June 2015: The first Bush orienteering event of the season at Phambile, a super highveld terrain venue in the Muldersdrift area. There are five or six courses to cater to all ages (children too) and abilities. Don't be deceived by the seemingly 'short' distances... Navigating in this bush terrain takes longer than a 5km on road...  >>> event info <<< 

Tuesday, 16 June 2015: The first Mountain Bike Orienteering (MTBO) event at Protea Ridge. Also fabulous highveld terrain on the Krugersdorp side of town. Three course distances. The best fun you can have on a mountain bike. >>> event info <<<

Saturday, 27 June 2015: AR Club's annual Dead of Winter Emmies to N1 Run. Yip, run the length of the Braamfontein Spruit from Emmarentia to Sunninghill. This is a social run and total distance is around 18km. You can hop-on, hop-off the route where ever you want. We started this a few years ago aiming to catch the beauty and invigoration of a highveld winter morning. Every year we've had warm and sunny conditions... It should be fresh out there this year. start is only at 07h30. >>> event info <<<

Sunday, 28 June 2015: AR Club is hosting the second Bush orienteering event of the season at Hennops. Note that this is a new date (moved one week later because of other activities happening at the property on our original date). The event sheet will be out soon and you can find it on the orienteering event calendar

If you haven't got a clue what to do at these events, no worry. Just rock up and there are friendly people around at the events to give you a hand. Definitely start with an easier course for your first time and only then try more challenging courses. I'll be at most (or all) of these.

Metrogaine is on Facebook. Please Like and share.

39 Days of Running completed, but ongoing

Yip, that's it. Yesterday I completed my 39 Days of Running pre-birthday game. As you know, it was more of a walking exercise this year with only three weeks of amazing running (I was on fire!) and then almost three weeks of coughing and spluttering.

On Sunday and Monday this week I had the most lovely, easy jog-walk sessions to allow my body to get into the running groove again. I was still coughing a bit but lungs felt clear.

And then...

On Monday night my throat started to feel sore and after being up a couple of times in the night, I was down with a serious sore throat, compete with swollen lymph nodes, by morning.

This time I headed for the doctor.

Fever, temperature, sore skin, painful throat and neck... Now after a full two days of meds and an almost 11-hour sleep last night, I'm on the mend. I've still got another three days of meds and am hoping for full recovery by then.

I started my "39 Days of Running" to finish early, timed to coincide with me leaving for Expedition Africa. Unfortunately I was cancelled from writing for the event and so I won't be going.

The good news is that I can continue with my pre-birthday game until my birthday on 18 June, making up for all the walking this year!

The walking has been fun though. Many of my walks have been done with my mom and walking with her - chatting as we walk - is a treat.

Tuesday 2 June 2015

DGT solo in 45 hours

On Monday night there was no chance that I would have gone to sleep until Andrew Porter was safely off the Drakensberg. I'd been following his tracking blip for hours as he made his way over the final section of the Drakensberg to complete the Drakensberg Grand Traverse (DGT) solo and unassisted in a staggeringly incredible 45 hours and 8 minutes.

A friend fortunately told me about Andrew's attempt on Monday afternoon so that I could follow his live tracking online. Andrew is an accomplished Drakensberg hiker and climber and as the previous solo record holder, he was on target to better this.

And better it he did! Andrew completed the approx. 210 kilometre distance little over three hours 'slower' than the amazing time set by Ryno Griesel and Ryan Sandes in March last year.

I wrote two pieces for the FEAT website on Andrew and the DGT. You can read them there:

What he accomplished is phenomenal!

A superb movie - Travailen - was made by Dean Leslie and his The African Attachment crew of Ryno and Ryan's record-setting run. It is wonderful to watch as it shows the grandeur of the Drakensberg and just how tough it is up there (the top of the Drakensberg is not flat!)

Monday 1 June 2015

3 days of running to go

I haven't had a great one for my "39 Days of Running" this year as I've been down with a cough and cold since I returned from Cape Town two weeks ago. This has been more of a "Two weeks of running, two weeks of walking" game.

On Saturday I did the Woodlands parkrun with my friend Staci, who was doing her 50th parkrun. She is also down with a cold. And my friend Rob was with us too - also down with flu / other sort of lurgy. We all walked, with a few trots on the downs.

Yesterday evening I did my first proper walk-jog and will probably have a few more days of light 'n easy activity until the cough is gone and my chest is properly clear.

My annual pre-birthday game of "39 Days of Running" officially ends on Wednesday (today is Day 37) but as I'm no longer going to Expedition Africa and I've been 'cheated' out of two weeks of running with this cold, I'll just keep going until my birthday on 18 June.

Following our SA runners at the IAU Trail World Champs in France on Saturday was incredibly exciting even though I only had split times on the race website to follow. Very good results from our runners. (These releases written by me for K-Way - they sponsor AJ Calitz and Nicolette Griffioen).

And the good few hours spent on the couch watching Comrades on Sunday morning made for a wonderful weekend of running inspiration.

There were loads of incredible pre-Comrades runs done, the most notable being the Ten10 challenge undertaken by my friend Hazel Moller. Her aim was to run 10 x Comrades distances (90km) in 10 days from Jo'burg to Durban with the 10th run being Comrades itself. She managed all but Day 8, which was a tough one for her. I think she ran about 25km of Day 8 and then needed to eat and sleep before getting on her feet again for Day 9 and Comrades on Day 10. A phenomenal achievement.

Michael and Laura de Haast did a Comrades double by running down on Saturday and up on Sunday.

You can read about inspiring runs on FEAT.