Friday 29 July 2016

The Munga Trail launched

Adventure racers are perfectly suited to Alex Harris' new The Munga Trail event. They can keep going for ages and many can navigate. OK, so navigation for this event is GPS based, but still.
Here's the low-down:
Venue is Lakenvlei Forest Lodge (10km from Belfast – on the Belfast-Dullstroom road) to Blyde River Canyon.
400km non-stop foot event. Five race villages (70-80km apart) where runners can sleep if they want, grab a shower and hot food that we’ll supply. Dedicated water points 20-30km apart. 10 in total.
Terrain includes about 25km veld running and about 150km single track and trails. Jeep tracks, forestry roads and some district roads will make up the rest.
Navigation by GPS and rudimentary MUNGA route markings at major turning points. GPS track issued two weeks before the start.
The race will start on 19 April 2017 at 12 noon at Lakenvlei Forest Lodge and finish at 12 noon on 24th April in the Blyderiver Canyon – the 3rd largest canyon on earth. Runners will navigate district roads, forestry roads, jeep track, single track and some virgin veld. More than 85% of the route will be exclusive to the race.

The cut-off time limit is 120 hours, and the winners are expected to finish between 60 and 70 hours. They will not be allowed any additional outside assistance i.e. no support crew.

Entries are now open. Early Bird entry fee is R12,000 until 31 October 2016. Thereafter R 15,000. Entries close end February 2017. Limited to 100 runners.
Of course there is much chatter about the entry fee. Please read the post I wrote a while back about entry fees. I hope that this adjusts your perspective on what goes into an event and why fees are what they are. Sure, it is a lot of money to spend to enter, but this isn't more than what you'd spend on many other events and when you consider the logistics and a field that is limited to only 100 runners... This will be a high profile event, media and all the bells and whistle... They cost.
You have two choices; enter, or don't.
From Alex Harris you can definitely expect top quality in planning and execution.
If you wanna keep tabs on this event, Like their FB page The Munga Trail. I most certainly have!
And if you're doing it and you need navigation skills help, call me.

Navigation coaching dates for August

Hi Navigators-to-be,

Thank you for being so patient while I find my feet in my new home. I've been busy with creating a map to use for navigation training - and it is looking fabulous.

I had a most wonderful day yesterday teaching navigation skills to a group from the outdoor-based post-matric 'school', Warriors. I had a group last year, in Jo'burg, and so I was delighted to receive a call from them again a few weeks ago asking me to teach their new group how to navigate. With a fixed date, this was the kick I needed to explore the area more - looking for checkpoints - and to tweak my map.

I did skills and activities with them in the morning and later in the afternoon we headed out for a bushy practical session. This area, being highveld bush terrain, is far more challenging than Delta Park and so I was super-super-super impressed with this group of 19/20 year olds yesterday afternoon. As far as challenging, precise navigation goes, this ticks all the boxes. And they got it! I felt like a proud mother hen watching them in action.

I have TWO DATES for you (minimum 6 people, max 12):

·         TUESDAY, 9 AUGUST 2016 (public holiday, Women's Day)
·         SATURDAY, 20 AUGUST 2016 (plus Sunday morning GPS activity)

VENUE: Thabela Thabeng, in the Vredefort Dome (near Parys). It takes me 25-30 minutes in my VW Polo to get to Thabela from my home in Parys. Parys is less than 90-mins from Jo'burg. Thabela has lovely chalets and also a Youth Hostel (my group yesterday stayed in the hostel - it's around R100pppn).

TIME: 09h00 to 16h00. It is very chilly in the early morning at the moment but by 9am it is much-much improved.

COST: R350 for the full day. For the additional GPS morning, plus R100.

In the morning we'll cover the fundamental skills: map orientation by features, thumbing, scale-proportion-relationships, pacing, contour lines, compass use (map orientation plus direction of travel).

After lunch, we'll head into the bush for a technical activity where all of these skills will need to come into play.

I know there are a bunch of people looking for GPS assistance. I assume you'll want to know things like following a track, putting in co-ordinates and using the 'Go To' function?

Let me know:
·         what kind of GPS you have
·         what event you want to do, and
·         if you know, what GPS content the event provides i.e. gpx file with a track, a file with waypoints or coordinates

Thabela Thabeng is a great place to stay - and it is our host venue too. They have a variety of chalet options both on their property and the one next door. Their chalets range from 2-sleepers to 4, 6 and even a 10-sleeper house. Depending on the size of the chalet and number of people, rates would range from R270 to R495 per person per night. These are all self-catering chalets.

If you're not planning a romatic getaway with your partner/family, I'll be happy to coordinate participants to share a chalet.

If you're keen to come through for the Tuesday, 9 August, I'd recommend staying over on the Monday night. Usually bookings are two nights minimum but as it is a public holiday in the week, they're fine for us to book just the Monday night.

If you plan to come through on Saturday, 20 August, this will fall under the 2-nights minimum so you'll stay the Fri and Sat nights. That's why I suggest the Sunday morning for GPS skills. We'll be done by noon.

The chalets are all self-catering. There is also a great spot 4km down the road in the historic village of Venterskroon. I used the Venterskroon Inn as my start/finish venue for my Forest Run. They make delicious food. Nice for Saturday night dinner and Sunday lunch.

For lunch during the nav course, pack in some sammies and snacks and we will have a quick 30-minute picnic.

Dress appropriately for activity and the weather… Hat, shades, water bottle, backpack (for putting in your layers of clothing as you strip them off). Of course, takkies. You won't be running - the focus is on navigation, not exercise.

  • A pen and a clipboard.
  • If you have your own compass, bring it. I do have compasses for you to use if you don't have one. Please don't go out and buy one for the course. Rather buy later once you know what to look for in a compass.
  • Lots of enthusiasm and energy :)

Please let me know by noon on Thursday, 3 August if you're in for the 9th.
Please let me know by noon on Tuesday, 16 August if you're in for the 20th.

Payment confirms your place.

Email me at

Thursday 28 July 2016

It's easier to edit than create

I've recently been doing some copy editing for a friend - and I love it! There are so many things in writing that I innately know, but I don't know why it is as it is. I'm enjoying the challenge of editing copy together with researching appropriate explanations of why I've made a certain change to the text.

I've also been writing website content for a client. Although I know what his business is about, I don't know all the technical details. I was also given free reign to create the content for all of the pages. We'd brainstormed a bit so I knew what we needed. Then, I wrote content that I would find interesting to read if I landed on his page. Once the copy was written, I handed it over to him to alter.

It is definitely far easier to get cracking and to make additions and alterations when you have something - anything - to start with. For him, altering my copy triggered ideas and it was far easier for him to have something to get him started than to face a blank page.

This applies to so many things - not just writing.

It is easier to take over something and improve on what exists than to create something new from scratch.

And it is also easier to critique what someone else had created, rather than to create it yourself.

For the person that has created something from scratch, there is always room for improvement over time and with experience.

It really is just to make that first step - to create something and get it off the ground. That is the hard part.

Wednesday 27 July 2016

A very happy re-birthday, to me. To me.

My Saturday morning unfolded like this.

I got up really early on Saturday morning to take my turn as Run Director at our Parys parkrun. Poor Celliers gets roped into helping so he was up early too. We opened a gate, put out the turn-around signs and headed for the start. Celliers left me here to set up the start/finish while he went to open another gate.

Two smiling, familiar faces rock up. Iselle and Peter (aka 'The Red Fairy'). Yay! Jo'burg Forest Run friends to enjoy our local parkrun. We get many visitors to Parys parkrun. Some weekenders and others drop in just to run - parkrun tourists. It is always nice to have friends visiting.

The runners set off and the next hour is busy with runners returning and the usual finishline stuff.

Celliers stands chatting to Iselle and Peter. And then Fred rocks up. Yay! Another friend visiting. Fred meant to arrive in time for parkrun, but he took a scenic route.

Celliers tells me that we're all meeting for breakfast.

"Cool," I reply. "I'm just going to quickly process the results and then I'll find you about 20 mins later."

"No," he says. "Results can wait. You're coming to breakfast."

I'm hopping between legs.


After packing up, Celliers and I go off to lock a gate and I ask him something about whether he knew they were coming through. He said he knew. I thought he was pulling my leg so I didn't really believe him.

With everything parkrun wrapped, me, Celliers and Fred head up the road to find Peter and Iselle at a table. 

My eyes settle on this awesome table decoration. It looks like a tall, round cake with a sparkly purple-green-blue icing and with lavendar stalks and flowery-looking puffs.

"Ooooohhh, This is neat!" I exclaim as I'm about to poke a finger into it to see what it is made of.

"It's REAL," says Iselle.

My finger halts millimetres from the 'table decoration'.

"It's your cake," she adds.

"Your birthday cake!"

And so the penny dropped.

This was a surprise for my 40th re-birthday (I was away in Chile on my birthday day this year - 18 June).

What an absolute surprise!

And even more of a surprise was that Celliers had been in cahoots with Iselle and he knew all about this surprise. My mom knew too, but with friends and relations visiting for her birthday (this past Sunday), she didn't join us for breakfast. Other Jo'burg friends were also part of the scheme but were unable to make it. Fred and Iselle did pass on their warm wishes.

We started breakfast with cake and tea. An absolutely delicious and colourful four-layer cake! Amazing texture and taste and icing. 

Eggies followed, accompanied by fabulous company.

Even more wonderful was their kind donation of five massive bags of maizemeal and an envelope of money for the little school in my Forest Run area, Mponeng Primary Farm School. I dropped these off at the school this morning together with the crocheted creatures (a dragon and a cow) that I made. They'll find a good home in the little children's class.

As we hardly made a dent in this impressive cake, I had loads to share with my neighbours.

Iselle, Peter, Fred and Celliers - thank you for my very surprise re-birthday. This was a very special surprise that I'll treasure for a very, very long time. xxx

Friday 22 July 2016

Foot care happiness

Argyrios 'Argy' Papathanasopoulos is a superb ultra-distance runner. We met in March 2013 when I ran the wonderful five-day Namib Desert Challenge for the second time.

 Argy is helluva accomplished and he runs a lot. From Spartathalon to multi-day staged races, Argy gobbles up distance with ease.

Argy and his wife Hannisze before the race.
With the notorius Badwater Ultra (135-miles / 217-kilometres through Death Valley) coming up, Argy dropped me a note asking for foot care advice. This is what he wrote:

In one week's time, I will be running the Badwater race of 217 km in very hot conditions. Last time when I did Spartathlon 250 km, I suffered from many blisters. Do you suggest taping before race to prevent it...or changing socks - shoes on regular period and check for blisters and treating them during the race? 
I'm no foot guru like 'Fixing Your Feet's John Vonhof, but I have had a keen interest in blisters and foot care since I got into adventure racing and ultras some 17 years ago. I've been very fortunate not to suffer terribly from blistering, but I've had the odd heel blister, maceration, triangular little toes, random toe blisters and under-toenail blisters. My aim has always been to learn how to deal with the problem so that I never get them again.

On receiving Argy's note, I got all excited and fired off something about John Vonhof's excellent new article on foot maceration and skin toughening options.

I also agreed with Argy's his suggestions of changing socks and also checking on blisters and treating them during the race. Yes, yes, yes! I'm not big on taping, but that depends where the blisters arise and what is the cause and whether experience has proven that the taping will prevent blisters in the problem area.

And then I added, "So where do you get your blisters?" (this should have been my first response but I was just so delighted to receive Argy's note).

I get blisters only around toenails!
Ahhh... I love toenail issues.

Primary toenail issues are: shoes too narrow, shoes too small, seam line on socks, toenails too long and also thickened toenails. In the process of firing off my theories Argy replied,

I don't think it's too narrow. I think it's due to my thick nails coming upwards and increasing friction.
 Boom! Did you hear it? The sound of a nail being hit on the head.

In addition to suggesting that he uses a nail file to file his thickened nails down and to use a scraping tool to dig out any thickenings under the nail, I sent him this link to an excellent piece that John Vonhof wrote on his 'Fixing Your Feet' blog a few years ago on Toes and Toenails.

He took a quick look at the article and replied:

This last article is talking about my problem. First photo shows exactly my problem. I think I have to emphasise on filing the nail.
Argy completed Badwater about two days ago in an incredible 7th place. He ran the 217-kilometre distance in only 27 hours 39 minutes 32 seconds.

Emerging from the internet-free desert he just sent a quick note saying:

Everything went perfectly. Only two small blisters, sorted out straight before creating problems!
A successful race in more ways than just an excellent result and time. Very, very well done Argy.

Thursday 21 July 2016

Taking my car for a drive

There is one thing that I do very little of in Parys: drive. I usually ride my bike around town - or walk, or run - and so I only use my car if I'm heading out of town or if I'm transporting people or kayaks. I even go grocery shopping with my Qhubeka bicycle, using tie-downs to strap my shopping bags on the rear carrier.

Yesterday, I needed to move my very dusty car from the driveway and realised that it had been over a week since I drove it. It was sluggish to start and so I took it for an out-and-back drive on the R59.

I love not having to drive my car - another selling point of living in a small town.

Wednesday 13 July 2016

20 of '40 Days of Running'

Today marked halfway in my '40 Days of Running' annual birthday game.

20-days ago I set off on the first of my 40 consecutive runs with a touch of post-travel blocked/runny nose. I took it easy for the first few days, slowly kicked the bugs and ran a good time at parkrun this past Saturday. This week has gone well and my legs and lungs are ticking over easy. I haven't put in much more than 4-6km/day and I'm feeling good for it. I'm looking forward to a longer run on Saturday.

I've also been pretty good with my yoga efforts. In the first two weeks I did three to four self-practice Ashtanga sessions each week. Sun salutations for warm up, standing postures and finishing sequence. I could feel the cobwebs dissolving.

Last Friday I attended my first yoga class in a long time. I'd heard about classes in town. Timing was right and off I went on my bicycle. I loved it. It isn't Ashtanga, but it is yoga and it is fabulous.

The class had a good pace and I felt at home immediately. I enjoyed the variety of postures and focus on breathing. I was back there yesterday (Tuesday). I should be able to make most of the Tuesday-Friday classes regularly. My classmates range from my age to late 70s (she just does much of her own thing) and they're all very friendly and welcoming.

Hip-hip-hooray and three cheers for 20 more days ahead.

Blood donation can be competitive

Here in Parys, the SANBS mobile unit comes on the second Tuesday of every month. Since I've been living out this way, I've been to the Potch permanent clinic once and this mobile clinic once (now twice).

The local Parys Gazette newspaper reported on a Rotary initiative; a blood donation competition between Parys and Viljoenskroon, a nearby town (reportedly bigger than Vredefort, smaller than Parys), for this past Tuesday, 12 July. As I was due to donate, I was in! I love a good competition.

The SANBS people set up in a local church hall from 1pm and yesterday morning I told Kyla and Ruben about the competition. Ruben came with me last time; Kyla wanted to come along this time to see what blood donation was all about.

The afternoon passed - filled with work and activities. I had forgotten completely about donating blood! 

Around 17h30 I went out for a run. 30-minutes later I was home and just as I was about to step into the shower I remembered: Blood Donation!

I quickly checked the newspaper. 13h00 to 19h00. I got dressed and, accompanied by Kyla, we drove up to the church hall. 

I was delighted to see all but one of the eight-odd beds full and it seems that the turnout yesterday afternoon was good - definitely over 100 donors. I hope we beat Viljoenskroon.

As always, the SANBS people are friendly and efficient and I even bumped into a young chap that I met previously. SANBS often hand out gifts to donors and their winter gift is a navy and white scarf with a red stripe that runs the length. It is light and warm and I'm wearing it right now.

Thank you SANBS. Always a pleasure.

Friday 8 July 2016

A writing adventure

Writing just happened to me. Looking back writing was always in my veins. When my post-graduate supervisor, Professor Kramer, used to say, “Your papers are very well written”, I didn’t think anything of it. A few years later, writing became my work.

I've generally written for magazines and clients in the adventure / running / outdoor industries but I'm keen for new challenges - writing content on other topics.
I'd never considered myself a 'ghostwriter', yet writing media releases for clients is very much ghostwriting because my name rarely appears on published releases, whether in print or online. 
I recently wrote a number of blog posts for a client. These appear under their name, not mine. And I love it! There's a satisfaction in looking through their blog and picking out the pieces that I've written. 
At the moment, I'm changing my focus and putting out feelers for writing-only and copy editing commissions. If you're in the market for a writer, please drop me a note.
You'll find examples of my writing as well as services, rates and contact details on my 'writing stash' website - (note the wordpress address).
Looking back - over a 20-year period, I have written:
  • Scientific papers (cell and developmental biology)
  • Voice-over scripts (for Drifter Adventure Zone on Supersport)
  • This AdventureLisa blog (over 1,100 posts!)
  • Blog content for clients
  • Website content – news stories for and FEAT ( (hundreds and hundreds of posts)
  • Newspaper articles
  • Newsletters – hundreds of them!
  • Product specifications and descriptions
  • Product reviews
  • Magazine columns (for GoMulti and Runner’s World SA magazines)
  • Magazine features
  • Gear Editor for Runner's World SA
  • Magazine supplements – for Runner’s World as well as the running section of the Men’s Health Buyer’s Guide
  • Book co-author with Jacques Marais of ‘Adventure Racing’
  • Content contributor for Jacques Marais' book, ‘Trail Runner’s Guide’
  • Text content for Wouter Kingma's large-format, coffee-table book, ‘2008 Abu Dhabi Adventure Race’
  • Event reporting – website content and media releases in the role as media director of the event and visiting media
  • Media releases – products, events, athletes and brands
  • Website editor and designer (I am proficient in HTML, CSS and WordPress)