31 March 2019

A Month of Mazda

Mazda Month 2017 July-ish or somewhere there…

Two years ago I was privileged to be given a Mazda a week for a month. And just recently I’ve been thinking how much I enjoyed that month… so here’s a recap. Don’t bother searching the original reviews, they’ve been relegated to the mists of time. Enjoy these recollections knowing these vehicles still exist...

The guys at Mazda really stepped up to the plate with their press vehicles… We got them in order as follows: A Mazda 2 (full house diesel that disappeared in dust alone), a Mazda 3 sedan (classy and probably my overall 1st choice), a CX-3 (mid-range SUV, probably my least favorite, but then I was comparing it to some outstanding choices… so not really anything to do with the vehicle itself), a CX-5 (marketed as the flagship, and clearly best value for money in its class at the time), and lastly my favorite of the family, the BT-50 (a thoroughbred).

When you design an old favorite meal from scratch, you don’t use just salt or a store-bought mash up for flavor; you do it properly. When writing a story, you don’t start with, “It was a dark and stormy night”… You just don’t. When Mazda redesigned their style, they introduced the then new “Kodo design philosophy”. It is a well thought, well executed example of redesign going right. Kodo emanated through the whole family from the Mazda “M” in the grill to the interior styling. It was like riding in the belly of the dragon, and being the knight in control! I won’t lie: it may have had a little to do with how I wrote my Washie blog and chose my Insta handle… Design and power.

So… to the cars: and first up was the Mazda2 DE Hazumi 1.5 – Auto. It is lighter than its predecessor, and stronger; more fuel efficient, but faster. It has a 5-star Euro-NCAP grading; brilliant for a B-segment vehicle. To show this, I did an 808km round trip on a cold winter day bumping over the rough roads of the Eastern Cape… and it was comfortable and cheap; 5.4l/100km. All I had to do was think about overtaking slower vehicles and suddenly I was in front of them as if the wizardry of knight’s tales is engineered in this powertrain. The Hazumi was fun, and if you know how to “drive” then you wouldn’t be disappointed with this hatch getting you places quickly (just don’t get caught doing it) and as a trend-setter. Oh, and the 950 liters of loading space with the seats down mean you can get the whole entertainment system to the party… we literally tested this out by packing in a monster TV, sound system, and a trolley full of party goodies from the local hyperstore).

On to the Mazda3 2.0 Astina Auto for the next week. This vehicle had me overachieving on my image with a trip to the Plett Wine Route, a lesser known class act vehicle taking to the lesser known class act vineyards… Game, set, match. I mentioned this vehicle would probably have been my choice of the 5, and this is true for very practical reasons. Ask me what is most memorable, and I’ll tell you: “the whole shebang, but not one single thing springs to mind". After the Mazda 2, it didn’t lack power or space or class or strength or economy or anything. It was only toward the end of the week that I realized that the WHOLE package was that good; so nothing stood out. The Astina caught glances and got conversations going with its attracting design. If it wasn’t for the insistent voice of the sat-nav we would have caught some flack from the local law; I’m still grateful for that irritating wench… and of course we fitted a substantial amount of liquor into that boot which we had to keep safe on the way back. Overall it is a great ride for far too many reasons… and would suit me very well!

To me the CX-3 serves Mazda well. It fits nicely into the smaller-SUV gap. It is a “developing world” vehicle that says we’re growing, believe in our success, can handle all the potholes life throws at us and do it with integrity, ingenuity and class. The ride height and ground clearance speak to this precisely. From a comfort, power, strength, design and safety perspective it was everything we had come to expect from Mazda having driven the previous two vehicles. So what did I do to test out this baby dragon? I went to the airport to visit an anti-poaching helicopter to test out the sound-proofing of these babies (click the link to try and listen!) (They wouldn’t allow me on to the tarmac to race a plane taking off… so the next best thing was!) This is an outstanding little lifestyle vehicle and richly deserving of the brand.

"The big-daddy SUV Mazda CX-5 was the best value in its class, no doubt". This was the off-the-record consensus of a few car critics I’d spoken to at the time (no names mentioned, and I believe it is far enough after the fact to say it here!). And I had no doubt either: Rand for rand there was nothing on the market that could beat this vehicle. What would suit it for a challenge, though? The Washie 100. Mazda has a rich history and many of its “ancient” vehicles are still running today; the brand goes the long run. The Washie 100 is the longest running 100 mile foot race on the road in the world. And that year we were supporting a friend… 5 big fellows in an SUV running all night and all day. A full tank of gas was more than enough to get us through (700+km), keeping the guys in the vehicle warm with enough space to spread out all the food, clothes and other crap runners think they need! And there was a bicycle on top… just in case we needed it. We didn’t. The CX-5 offered everything the CX-3 did plus space. It really was a memorable week (and weekend) with that vehicle. And to boot, 2 friends have bought them since and still love them 2 years later...

Lastly we got into the Mazda BT-50. I am a sucker for charity, and the fact that Mazda had sponsored these vehicles for years to some favorite wildlife charities meant I already had a soft spot for them! Add the modern accouterments and we had my favorite Mazda of all. Height, comfort, power out of the 2.2l engine, space, and the practicality of a bakkie (aka ute)… what more could a man want. My wife loved it, too… as long as she didn’t have to drive this monster; but it really did drive like a car. It didn’t fit under our covered parking at home, or in our styled-entrance garage, but if I bought this vehicle, I don't think she would have minded being parked outside in our yard showing off her lines and innate power. The most spectacular place I had the privilege of parking this cultured beast was on the table top at the local moto-cross track (don’t tell them ;) ). The Impossible Made Possible was a slogan on the wall alongside the BT-50’s spot on the sales floor… it really seems that the only place this vehicle couldn’t go was fully submerged in water! My friends said they “can see (me) in this”. I still can… It is stylish and hardworking, thrifty with long legs.  

Thank you for reading... Happy driving! Remember, you can RAZE A BAR (the impossible made possible).

29 March 2019

Addo 100 - Race Report #RunAMUK for #RazeABar

A week after completing the Washie 100 miler I started training for my 2nd miler... I couldn't walk, but in my head it started. It was a kind of running “I am because we are” (loose translation of an African philosophical idea labeled “uBuntu”). Truth be told, it probably started when I ran my first official 5km run or parkrun many moons before that!

uBuntu philosophy leads to other African proverbs like, “If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go with friends”. Race medals need friends, too, right? From a road 100 miler I needed to add a bush 100… and of course there are many around the world as one of the faster growing sports. The more 100 milers the better, right…? And of course me going far at Washie meant a great team of unicorn support on that road, and many miles training with mates leading up to Addo! Go together…

There were a lot of lessons I needed to learn at Washie. Teamwork, nutrition, hydration, training the right amount (not too much is as damaging as too little), and keeping your head and heart in the moment are all important. My unicorns (Charles, Derek, Niki, and Robyn) all contributed to my finish at Washie and I am eternally humbled by their hearts… you should read that blog now if you haven’t already.

I grew up in bush or close to it with a great love of being outdoors on the rocks, grass and rivers of home. I’d played with snakes, crickets, frogs and other critters. Deer, caracal, rhino, and others had all been hunted on foot; or maybe I was just lucky to walk around the right corner at the right time to see some magnificent creatures up close and (sometimes a little too) personal. Those rhino were less than 50 meters and marking me... 

And of course I live in Nelson Mandela Bay, 200 miles from the Washie 100 and 50 miles from Addo… They are two of the iconic 100 milers in the world… No, that is not an exaggeration. The Washie, heading into its 43rd consecutive edition, is the oldest running miler in the world; history. AddoElephant Trail Run takes place in a pristine wilderness area testing the body and mind both; whether it is a hot or cold year it has areas of aloneness that you will not experience. There are no pacers or seconds allowed. I am privileged.

From 110+km per week to 75, from supplied nutrition to carried, from soup and water to Tailwind… so many things changed between July 2018 and March 2019. From “perfect training” leading into Washie I struggled with an injury leading into Addo… and am forever grateful. It meant I got professional help to learn just how to run properly again. And of course this build up included a mental challenge from Dr Chris van der Walt and Bradley Mackenzie to build a run streak that culminated on day 100 24 hours before Addo started… would it finish me?

Addo started at 2pm on Friday 15 March. There was a group of experienced led by Tobie Reynecke who would become South Africa’s leading 100 mile finisher by completing his 53rd miler not long before the 37 hour cut off on Sunday 17th, and Annalise Scholtz who would take the women’s course record and finish second overall. I was hoping to have finished just before midnight on Saturday… after all, who wants to run 3 days in a row without a sleep?

#LancasterLight, just off of 4 years old wanted to run with me… He was on his leash to be handed over as a cross critter to his grandfather about 50 meters after the start. It was probably the slowest start I’ve ever had to a race, and the most enjoyable being led by an excited toddler!

We got the weather we expected: humid and warm. It meant one HAD to take it easy the first day and night in order to not blow properly the second day (and night). It also meant your feet had to be well taken care of… Part of my team are my Balega Enduro socks* (read my sock-specific review here). These worked very well with the Altra Lone Peak 4’s I’d chosen. The cushioning and stone guards on the shoes really did what they were designed to do well and my feet finished very comfortably.

The gun goes, the runners amble off. Leading out of the Addo Elephant National Park we traipsed, some a little too hard for the heat. There was a reported 37% DNF rate this year, the highest ever. From the start you head down the main road and left onto a jeep track. Around the corner and you cross the main road to some cheering onto a local “gravel road” half way up a pass before heading into single track. Those first 11km to = checkpoint (CP) 1 were a great introduction to what was to come.

On the local gravel road leading into the bottom of the pass I’d spent a little time around Tobie; first behind him learning his “100-mile shuffle”, and then next to him swapping some Washie stories, and lastly in front of him as my legs are longer than his! I was moving easily and well. Tobie espouses uBuntu, and his sharing of knowledge and passion carried me often over the next hours. It is amazing what you can learn in just a few seconds if you listen hard!

Moving now upward toward Camp Figtree I thought of some of the training partners I’d run with. Dawn, Renee, Errol, Beth and Grant all lined the road after the start; Allister, Chris and Gary had been there to see us off. I’d been left by Dane and Ronald at the start, and Pamela, Craig, Letitia, Johan and others were behind me. It was windless in that jungle. And hot. I looked for the first time at my shirt sleeves. On my right were my work logos, companies that support great causes; thank you Cellucity! And on my left were those great causes. Christmas Cheer, One Land Love It, Rainbows and Smiles and Community Veterinary Clinics. Was it a good thing that I needed to look down at my sleeves so early in the game?

After not letting my seconds go at Washie because I was afraid of where my mind would wander, was having to be by myself this Friday night going to be a problem? Who would motivate me if I used my shirt mojo so early? Fight or flight?

I smiled… and looked again at my sleeves realizing that I was in a position to do way more than any of the beneficiaries… "perspective". It was the word gifted on my “Tag It” from Pamela of SA Medal Hangers. Perspective. That would keep me going all night long… and all of the next day; well, most of it.

Arriving on the ridge I ran in the afternoon sun as it slowly withered to a gloaming over pink heathered mountains to the East and the North… the Zuurberg were showing off… or maybe just inviting us to give up right then and enjoy her without exploring her depths.

From what I could tell, I was the last to turn on my headlamp… I LOVE running dark. And if it had been a full moon out from behind the clouds I would have continued into the dark night. As it was there was cloud cover that kept radiated heat on the Earth’s surface and proved a boon for me: it helped keep my core temperature up and me moving easily (lesson from Washie affirmed… don’t forget this, Steven!)

After the ridge running… then down. Of all the disciplines, down hill is not my favorite, especially in the dark. Before Addo I had assumed I would most value my trekking poles on the uphill grinds, but it was these steep down hills that I came to really value the upper body’s role in running “light” on your feet, especially with poles.

There is a Crowded House song that I love (I like “deep stuff”): Always take the weather with you. I refer that line to my attitude. I hadn’t worried about running in the dark, running alone, or running with people… and it didn’t bother me. Possibly the most disappointing aspect of Addo 100 for me was the lack of animals I saw, and that Pamela saw a leopard just meters from her makes me so jealous (fortunately I only found out later), but I did force myself to remain of sunny disposition.

Ellies Tavern: the early years!
My first real planned stop was at Ellies Tavern, CP 5 at 43km. I wanted to reassess my strapping (bio – prescribed) and check that all my muscle systems were working properly (they were). So I got stretched out and fed up, treated to Ellie’s world famous Millionaire’s Shortbread, and got on my way. It was a slightly longer CP for me… one of three (the medical check and back at Ellie’s later). A quick in-and-out of check points really worked well. “Just don’t stop” was a mantra I’d used at Washie that I adapted for Addo! Live, and learn; I’m glad I did!

The stars were intermittently bright, and the moon faded. There were 3 strategies I had lined up to get me through… and each played their part.
  1. Perspective is a wonderful thing: concentrate for 10 minutes in turn on a beneficiary of #RazeABar. Nothing like knowing your alive, healthy and able to partake to get your mind in order. This is what I referred to above.
  2. Pick a Christmas Carol and practice it for an impromptu performance on entering CP 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, and 11… I may have missed a few, but it was a classic way to get comments, give energy and receive cheers! Nobody joined in… so I’m not sure if I was that good, or that bad!
  3. The details of point 3 are a secret… Suffice I say that I thought of my happy places with friends and family. Again, a form of perspective.
The night wore on. And I was reminded in short order of a game the Lancaster males play; my father Howard, brother Peter and I. My brother, the accountant, has won once… we go for coffee at a local; we size up the clientele, and tally who we know (excluding staff). At 82km, just before crossing the Sunday’s river, at 1am on Saturday morning, I get asked: “Are you Howard’s son?” Bloody hell. The middle of the night, the middle of the race, the middle of nowhere I’m doing MY thing and here comes the pre-ghost of my famous father; and I didn’t recognize Clive Gibson! Dad 1, me 0. Father Lancaster is a wonderful man with a significant contribution to our society and to be associated with him (even at that time) was kudos to him… and pride for me. Love you, pops. I had 2 crossings of the Sundays to get through and 16km to the drop bags… Leaving Mr Gibson behind, I had to focus. And I did.

Most of the night was warm, uneventful and wind-less. It left me thinking I was glad I didn’t need to manage my core temperature even after river crossings. I did put my buff over my nose and practiced breathing in through the nose and out through the mouth. If I run colder races this year I may need a beard… A friend keeps saying every “good” trail runner has a wild beard to match their wild eyes! I don’t know what Ryan Sandes says…? He was about to start the 76km race and win. Obviously. Beast!

Once again I caught the Ultra Running SA legends, Dane and Ronald, at CP 11. We were all well inside cut off and on course for a decent finish. I was starting to think of finish times now… if I could get fueled, and out of this CP quickly… and manage a little niggle in my left ITB. Then I could go quickly through the Valley of Tears to Ellies Tavern and get some treatment with a professional strapping job and finish inside this wild ride inside 30 hours easily. An unnecessary change of socks, a necessary refueling of the body and restocking of GNLD bars along with Tailwind nutrition ensued… it was still a quick turnaround, under 10 minutes.

As I went between CP 11 to 13 I mused on my nutrition/hydration strategy and how well it was working. No dips. Andy Wesson once said that if you feel down, eat. Tired, eat. I added if you feel water sloshing directly onto stomach lining: eat. I remained strong and focused all the way through CP 15.

However, my first “blip” came at CP 13… where I followed the markers & GPS route into the Valley of Tears… and missed the medical check that was a couple of hundred meters up the road. Unfortunately the person based there to show me the way needed a little break and it was my misfortune to hit that gap! An extra 3km total. The weather entering the valley for my first sojourn there was warm, humid, and overcast. On the other hand, seeing the doc and thanking him for his role in getting me through Washie was great! And of course he has a sound sense of humorous sanity and the ability to measure insanity in ultra runners that stands us crazies in good stead…

By the time I entered the valley for my 2nd time the sun had just burned off the clouds… I knew what was coming. I had hiked these mountains in summers before. I was grateful I had turned back to hydrate and fill my pack with water. That decision stood my mood in good stead, although I did use my annoyance at the extra kilometres to my advantage as I powered up the hills. Huff, puff, FSH… (yes, FSH is actually earlier in the race where people traditionally have to utter expletives in the direction of the race director to enjoy a good 2nd half… I didn't follow tradition, so I got some bad luck in the 2nd half! haha)

The Valley of Tears is tear-inducing. If you’re there in the dark, navigating won’t be easy; if you’re there in the heat… you may be too parched to cry; but if you have your wits about you, there is no other place on the course that matches its raw, remote beauty. The silence and stretching views of skies, mountain sides and valleys is breathtaking, and if I was ever going to cry at Africa's Wildest Ultra: it would have been at this beauty.

Of course I was still struggling with ITB and had expected to power through the second half of the valley going down the watershed. It wasn’t to be; I had to take it easy… again the poles were an asset.

Running the last 500m into Ellies Tavern at CP 14 I booked the next spot on the physio’s table… Nicky Roodt’s treatments are legendary. It was hot and humid and the checkpoint was beginning to look a little like the fallout in a warzone with athletes being treated for heat stroke and dehydration, as well as other things. Allister Marran, the bloke that introduced me to long distance running arrived shortly after I did. He had, rightly, made the decision to tackle the awesomely challenging 76km run. Beforehand we’d joked about it being the Addo parkrun… and the 44km event the “nappy dash”. Let me clear up that any ultra run, but especially those in tough conditions and treacherous terrain take a level of training and guts to enter, let alone complete. Kudos to all participants! (And if you haven't already, give his Addo blog a squizz, too).

Allister told me he was struggling… I was a little surprised. He’d been bok the day before with missing the 100 miler (he is also a Washie 100 graduate). While I was getting treated, strapped and refueled, he made sure to get enough food and liquid for the assault on the little mountain out of Ellies onto the escarpment. It is a tough little 6km piece of the course… down or up. We'd come down it the previous night, now it was up. It is relentless and exposed. I boldly said I’d catch him (thinking I didn’t have a hope… he was still “fresh”). But running long distance is a funny thing.

There was another Washie runner from Fat Cats that arrived and left Ellies Tavern in the course of my stay and I quickly caught her and her two friends. We would yo-yo regularly all the way to the finish. About 1km up Ellie’s hill I passed her one companion sitting under a tree… I told him to get up and keep going. Keep looking at the view… just don’t stop. He CAN do this thing and RazeABar… raze his bar. Credit to him, he did.

3km up the hill, there sat Allister. I had marked him well ahead of me as we crested the steepest section of the climb. I was surprised to see him sitting there. Saying he was finished he told me he was just enjoying the view. I told him, “You know the rule.” I think he may have wanted to hit me… but he smiled and said effectively that the beauty of the view was worth the pain of the climb.
The rule is that you never quit, you can get pulled, but you don’t stop. He didn’t stop (apparently he also got some advice from his wife… and that is always important advice). The advice #LancasterLovely gave me was that if I came home broken, she’d put me in a wheelchair at the top of our (steep) driveway and let go… If I survived our gate at the bottom, she’d still wheel me out onto the verge… I guess I had to finish strong, then!

I then muttered to Allister again… I’ll see you when you pass me later. To his credit… he did, and I never saw him until the end. Stubborn bastard wasn’t going to let me catch him a 2nd time!

My second blip, it came up at the top of that climb. I was planning on “scout’s pace” of running 50 paces and walking 50 paces along the ridge, possibly even running more depending on how I felt. However, sleep was starting to catch up to me and a general lethargy. I looked at my shirt sleeves. I looked at the heather on the hills. I looked at the fynbos flowers and smelt the mountain air. I cheered runners as they came past or I passed them. And then I woke up… I took a caffeine shot! Clever boy. After 8km of “low” I started to wake up and be able to walk run again.

Cresting the end of the ridge after CP 16 it was gradually downhill to CP 17, the last CP. People manning that point included Jeff Ferreria, a longstanding hiking buddy, James de Scande and Colin Shroder. They are all involved in hiking, scouts, radio and various other outdoor activities. Perfect checkpoint “staff” to have on an event like Addo. Colin had pledged R100 to #RazeABar in the build up to the race… and told me I had to get to him to get it! Well, when I got there he had raised the bar to R800! What a champion lift to the spirits. Of course they had more coffee there… also known as “Hapoor se Pis”; Hapoor was one of the legendary elephants of Addo who earned his reputation as a stubborn survivor, and pis is… well, use your imagination. I’m going with the extra donation that powered me to the end.

At this stage 100 miles in 30 hours was possible...with some intentional movement. I might even make it to the end in 30 hours 30 if I could run all the way. But I knew that was a pipe dream; and razing bars is made of dreams! After getting my torch ready with fresh batteries, stashing the cash donation safely and fueling for the last 11km I ran out of CP17, down the hill and into the sunset. Thinking that if I hadn’t wasted 3km I could easily have finished sub 30… that is enough for me.

Addo has a sting in the tale: a beautiful finish, but to get there you run down to a stream, cross it on wobbly rocks numerous times, and climb a cliff face in the dark. It really is a beautiful mount to summit, but on old legs it can be a little daunting. Fortunately I had a precious donation to take care of, a goal of 100 miles inside 30 hours, and a solid finish. I did all 3… nearly taking out the race director Sheena at the finish as I jumped across the line happy and healthy. Sheens… I hope you’ve recovered as well as I have ;)  

And the cherry on top? That the Malkoppies (Bianca & Chris, pictured right) were able to finish their dream Addo as an engaged couple having raised great awareness for #RazeABar and in spite of the hurdles of equipment failure on their feet! Congrats guys… you are SUPERhumans! Mal… the best kind!

Thank you to Sian and Sheena for a world class event. Thank you to my family for allowing me the freedom to follow dreams. Thank you to all the charities for partnering with me on this journey, and especially to One Land Love It (Wayne, Nikki, Laura and Melissa) where were there at the start and at the end… they are part of the honorary rangers for Addo Elephant National Park and had arranged to be on duty so they could support! Thank you to my training partners and fellow enablers who sweep Thursday’s Achilles trail. Thank you to my mentors known and not (Andy Wesson, Sean Nakamura, Kim, Peej, Hylton Dunn, and a million more). Thank you to my biokineticist, Ilona Hearne. Thank you to the CP staff… mainly honorary rangers; you guys do a sterling job on the event and all year around at poacher’s moon! And thank you to you, reading this. Also a little thanks to new friends… Deon Braun, Andrew Booth, Cindy Mills, Malcolm the Squirrel, Ayla, and more… your guys stories are awesome! Keep talking… I’m listening J

PS: Cindy, Malcolm... I realize I also need to apply SNB like I do deodorant... under my arms! That is a new lesson... :D 

So... what's next? I'm going to run amuk... or rather, #RunAMUK. UTD, here I come ;)

*I am a Balega Impi for 2019, but if you haven’t, please read my review because I would be in these socks regardless.

PS: Thank you to the brands that got me through... not sponsored by any of these, but hey... if you're from them and want a piece of me, get in touch ;)
Altra Running (aka Flat bois) Lone Peak 4, Nike Trail Running (clothes of course), First Ascent pack and poles, Tailwind nutrition, Squirrels Nut Butter, Sony (my phone... 78% battery left after 31 hours on airplane mode operating the GPS), and Garmin FR35 (a few charges, but solid performance)

28 March 2019

Balega Enduro Review: 100 (s)miles

When you’re running “short”, you don’t need to worry much about your feet. But if you’re often on your feet and your favourite distance is “far”, foot care is paramount.

Like most runners I discovered this, because: blisters. Small. Big. Not too bad. Really bad; one time I had one blister… the size of my foot and ankle! I lie... 2 blisters that size, one on each foot/cankle. And then I discovered mohair socks, and I thought I had found Heaven.

Balega Enduro socks in Altra Running Lone Peak 4's on the Addo Elephant Trail Run 2019
My foot in Altra Lone Peak 4’s and Balega Enduro’s at Checkpoint 16 at Africa’s Wildest Ultra, the Addo Elephant Trail Run by Richard Pearce Photography

Mohair is a natural fibre. It breathes and protects your skin. It thermo regulates your feet in all temperatures. When wet from sweat or rivers or snow, mohair gets that water away from your skin, keeping you drier sooner and blister resistant.

Now add some cleva Balega tech and cool design:  you have extra support where you need it most (your feet) and you become a fashionista.

That tech, over the long run (100 Addo miles in my case), might seem small and insignificant, but if you multiply that support of 5% per step x 100 miles you begin to realize how little distraction your feet give and just how much easier it is to keep your focus on the important things: food, water, and fun. 

Balega Enduro, Bhuti! 10/10 for them socks.

WIN A PAIR OF TWO: Donate to #RazeABar and benefit some awesome charities. Businesses can request donations certificates, Section 18a, et al. Message me... 

And you can buy your own here, too: https://shopbalega.co.za/

13 March 2019

The last pre-Addo pep talk

There has been plenty of time to make friends and to self reflect;

Time allotted for blending life and respect

Is given to all who take it...

And more is often given to those that use it wisely

In the service of self and others.

I don't participate in an event "for others", I do it to "raze" my "bars,

Pushing boundaries beyond what I thought was too far.

In my doing, you may or may not learn that the same is true for all who take a step, two...

And with professional help, a hand up from you and yours, you may also learn what leaves you better and others too.

Details of how you can track myself and the Malkoppies, Bianca and Chris who are also raising funds through #RazeABar, will be posted to fb.me/razeabar during the course of today or before the run starts on Friday at 2pm.

Go on... we urge you...
Donate now:
Steven: https://www.backabuddy.co.za/champion/project/razeabar2019-upiufd
Malkoppies: https://www.backabuddy.co.za/champion/project/malkoppies-take-on-addo-100-miler

11 March 2019

Lucky donors who bring smiles win smiles!

Please feel free to share far and wide before 31 March 2019!
You are a lucky bunch of donors... Not only do you get the feel-good factor of donating, but these are the prizes you could win:

  • a pair of Balega running socks... #BalegaBestSocksEver
  • a hamper full of goodies from Cellucity, powered by Vodacom
  • a consult up to the value of R500 for your pet at South City Veterinary Practice (Nelson Mandela Bay donors only)
  • a R1000 Acana food supply for a month to the pet of your choice
To enter: donate R100 or more. Each R100 gets 1 entry.

Terms and conditions:
  • prizes are donations and not affiliated in any way with the company donating goods
  • prizes are not exchangable for cash
  • the organizer(s) are not liable for any loss, damage, harm or death or any other liability from use of such prizes
  • winners will be drawn on 1 April where donors are found on BackABuddy, whether having donated to the cause through RazeABar or Malkoppies pages
  • organizer(s) reserve the right to extend or withdraw the competition without notice and correspondence will not be entered into
All monies received through BackABuddy will be distributed directly to the charities and not to the organizer(s). All charities are appropriately registered and should a business require a donation certificate for tax or BEE purposes, please contact the organizers through the Facebook page at fb.me/RazeABar.

08 March 2019

Motivation has 2 faces: 5 tips to keep you running

Image result for buck up sissypantsI love The Big Bang Theory. (Spoiler alert... but if you haven't seen it yet, well... too bad!) There's that episode where Raj and Penny "hook up"... Then to get Leonard to snap out of being depressed because his girlfriend slept with one of his best friends, Sheldon gets Leonard's mother on the line because she's "so good" with parenting and advice. 

Image result for which wolf do you feed

Her sage advice: "Buck up." When her son Leonard questions this, she responds: "Buck up, Sissy pants."

Hard motivation. Leonard initially didn't respond well, but quickly changed his circumstances and "bucked up". Hard motivation worked.

Sometimes we get to a place where all we need is cottonwool, a shoulder to cry on. A bubble bath (but not in drought-stricken Nelson Mandela Bay) ice-cream, a glass of coffee, milo, or champagne, a duvet, a loved one, and a good movie can have such an awesome effect on our well being. Soft motivation works. Even when its at work and it is a colleagues listening without offering assistance or them refilling the stapler or the coffee pot... soft motivation works.

Knowing when to use which is the science and the art of the leader! And ultra runners have to lead their body, not only through the events, but the training as well. A good leader, a runner who finishes a race, uses both soft and hard motivation.

There are a 100 tricks to get you through... here are a few of my favorite:

  1. Stay in the moment. Don't focus on that long, flat piece of the run, or the uphill that is 1000m (3300ft) in 20km (12.5miles) that is still 4 hours away... or 15 minutes away. Listen to the birds. Look at the flowers. Watch the route markings! If you feel like you can't... don't listen, know that you can climb this next 1000 meters of path; then re-evaluate and see what you can do next. You bloody well can do it.
  2. Get a "Tag It" for your shoes. I have just one word on my tags. "Perspective". If you feel good while running an ultra: don't worry, it will pass ;)  Also if you feel bad, obvs. And another also: Also you can participate! How many people don't, and so many want to but are unable to do what you do. Appreciate it. All of it.
  3. People WANT to be involved... let them be! A mate got 30 of her closest friends, family and colleagues to write "something" motivational on a small card that she could carry with her. Each time she felt a low coming on, she'd open one up and be inspired... to run on and not stop to throw up on the surrounding vegetation! This method is awesome because out of 30 people some will give hard and some soft motivation... and the universe knows ;)
  4. Focus on what got you started. In my case, with #RazeABar, its the beneficiaries to four special charities; orphans (human, rhino, cats and dogs), the elderly, kids with cancer, those that have nothing but hope! So for each quarter I focus on a charity... 
  5. To be an example... a leader... in the most intimate way: as a parent. And #LancasterLight gives the best hugs. I am because he is... (with apologies to that great African proverb).
Winston Churchill is quoted as saying: When you're going through Hell, don't stop.

BONUS MOTIVATION... Don't forget about the buckle... or the medal... 

01 March 2019

The mental game: Why?!

Its 2 weeks to Addo... my second 100 miler, and first in the bush.

The bush is beautiful, the mountains are "home". I know what it takes for me to have done 100 miles before... #Washie100.

Image result for to thine own self be trueIts mental... crazy, yes; more in the head than in the body. Its tough, fulfilling, crazy... all of that. Some dude that lived a long time ago said that its important to know yourself. And on a long road, you have no choice: oh yeah, you can ignore yourself, too. But its important to pay attention.

Ubuntu... I am because we are ~ African philosophy

Animals, plants, rocks (yip, even them), and humans... we are because we all are. And so I also run for others... after all, I wouldn't be me if it weren't for you reading this!

BUT! What happens when it gets tough? And in 100 miles there are going to be a tough moment or two. There are tricks that a lot of people have shared with me over the years. The best advice is to "stay in the moment"; not to think about the other stuff.

At the Washie 100 it was "easy" to stay in the moment. There were a group of Unicorns (pictured right) who kept me chatting and my mind in the game when my body broke down. At Addo, that's not going to happen (hopefully I won't break... and there definitely won't be a support team).

Africa's Wildest Ultra takes place in a remote part of the Addo Elephant National Park. Its a logistical masterpiece that we can run there at all... and an impossibility for support teams.

So what AM I going to do to keep myself in the moment... well, that's where YOU come in! I'm going to #RazeABar ;) You're going to donate. I'm going to have divided the run into 4 marathons and 10km sections in each of those marathons. When it gets tough, I'm going to remember: PERSPECTIVE. There are 4 charities that would be less because we don't care... The first 10km I'll think of Rainbows and Smiles, the 2nd 10km One Land Love It, the 3rd Community Veterinary Clinics, and 4th The Herald Christmas Cheer Fund!

SO DONATE... preferably now, please :)

Even then, I may occasionally tend toward thinking 50km more is "too far"... but I know that I can go another hill... or another parkrun. I know I can. I know, more importantly, I WILL.

Expectations are made to be broken, limitations to be removed... fun to be had.

So get in my mental game. Please. And TYIA.

DONATE HERE: https://www.backabuddy.co.za/champion/project/razeabar2019-upiufd 

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