28 February 2021

Trails & Tales Take Two


Every good thing has its time... is this yours?

Addo Elephant Trail Run is scheduled for 26-28 March!

Do you want a weekend out on the farm with me and share stories, strategies, and serious fun?

Book now! Space is definitely still limited.

Catering and self catered... camping or a room! Let me know... before you regret it!

21 February 2021

Roots (with apologies to Alex Haley)

For me this post is the 2nd marker[ˈmɑːkə]

  • an object used to indicate a position, place, or route. [
    "they erected a granite marker at the site"]

Make it a marker for you, too.

www.instagram.com/thatcoffeyboy says, "there are many ways to protest: ours is to run". So this marker for me is to introduce our history to people of the area. Our history. The good and the ugly. It is us. And to help steer that history forward together, not apart.

This Trails And Tales was the first organized event, albeit small, in what will be a series. Deliberately only a few people were invited (and fewer attended), because of Covid, Addo Elephant Trail Run's postponement (so training), and the nature of the relationships to build.

The next one will be bigger, and in all likelihood in the same "hood". You will gain family. You may lose misconceptions, but you'll gain clarity. 

The day started out: me lost. I'd only been to Van der Kemp's Kloof on foot before! Now I was driving and Google didn't get me there! A quick phone call and we were back on track. A welcome greeting.

It is Sunday. We met at the Church. It was closed. Covid. We passed buildings that have seen eight global epidemics! Is that a warning, a judgement...or just history?

The church building is marked 1803. Two Hundred and 18 years old. It is one of the oldest buildings in Nelson Mandela Bay, a once-upon-a-time halfway stop between Port Elizabeth and Uitenhage (now home to Volkswagen South Africa and other motor industry giants). It was begun by a man who believed in his call to mission, to make a better life for all people, JT Van der Kemp. Apart from the port, it was the only organized settlement for days.

It was told that Van der Kemp arrived in Port Elizabeth and was sent from there to the settlers of the Klein Karoo (a semi-desert). Traversing the valleys once carved by ice rivers, he arrived at where Graaff Reinet is now situated; even fridges struggle to maintain ice in this summer heat! He proffered his services (and the services of the God of the "good Samaritan") also to the indigenous population. But the settlers sought exclusivity, and he fled back South.

On his route back to Algoa Bay (now Port Elizabeth), Van der Kemp stopped in an area that once held some of the largest herds of buffalo and other grass eating herbivores south of Mount Kilimanjaro. Imagine standing and staring either from the hilltop of Lovemore Heights or from the Lady's Slipper and looking over those heaving fields? 

These animals were wiped out in an orgy of blood by order for farmland of the settler leaders, leaving the ecosystems in tatters. This area was known as "Kragga Kamma", or the area of "Pebbled Waters". It was full of high water tables and vlei's (marshes, bogs). Today much of it is either suburban city or small holding farmland, and regularly affected by water shortages. I live just a few miles to the South of this area.

And so Van der Kemp came, via Port Elizabeth, to settle where the Kloof bears his name. He worked both with settlers who passed through and the displaced indigenous people. A fuller account of his story can be found here: Port Elizabeth of Yore: Bethelsdorp – PE’s First Organised Settlement - The Casual Observer

Now situated in a "so-called colored" area, it was once inhabited by Khoikhoi and Xhosa. These indigenous peoples were forcefully relocated across the Swartkops and Chatty Rivers.

But why don't you commit to join me next time... we'll tell more stories, take more pictures, make more memories, steep ourselves in our history. Let's learn together so that we can grow together.

One week before Addo... Do you prefer a Saturday or Sunday? 20 or 21 March... let's hope the weather is like it was today!

14 February 2021

I have a dream...

... of life's lessons learned. 

... of life's lessons shared.

... of friendship across borders.

... of healthy bodies, minds, souls... relationships.

Perfection? No, seldom. 

Progress, open and transparent? Most always.

Trust? Yes, please! Slowly built, treasured.

Happiness's? Well developed, plentiful and deeply rooted. 

07 February 2021

Tips to finish that long run...

What do you do when there is a sudden plan change? Doesn't matter if its a 5 kay or 100 miler... or life!

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Last year I had The Tusker in my planning. In the training phase I had another big event! Well, like it happened to all of you: Hello, Covid-19 lock down... I now have it for this year.

In 2019 I had AMUK in mind (4 x 100 mile runs in the calendar year... craziness, but fun). The first one, Addo went brilliantly. A month later at Ultra Trail Drakensburg I fell at 100km and hurt my knee... from then on I was unable to run! Another month and at Mac Mac Ultra I kicked a rock (not on purpose... I promise) hurting my toe (the same one I broke in 2020) and stabbing my other foot with my trekking pole.

What gets me through these kind of things?

1 - know that its going to hurt at some point. That's okay. And have your earworms preplanned ;) Nobody needs a bad earworm to hurt their head!

2 - know what kind of hurt is "okay" and what kind of hurt you should have an expert evaluate. 

3 - if you're hurting, have a strategy pre-planned on how to address it. For me, this included trusting my kit like my Balega socks and Squirrels Nut Butter... If you're prone to a certain "ache", know how to stretch it out or prevent it. 

4 - hydration and energizing is very important. This is the reason I didn't finish AMUK... see below*. Also, know the symptoms of dehydration and over hydration: seek help if you are experiencing either! Hot and/or windy weather is lethal. Respect it by giving your body everything it needs to beat the weather.

5 - have two parts of your brain open... stay in the moment (you don't want to go off course) and keep your purpose in mind (this helps get through the tough parts).

6 - break up the tough parts into manageable portions: "Can I do 1 more mile / get to the top of that hill?" 

7 - run YOUR race... others will be faster and slower than you on the same sections. You will see them later. Go at your pace now.

Change in these last 12 months has been a constant. It will continue to be probably for another 12 months... Keep your eye on the prize, and know that you only see a little of the path. 

For me... that means a big training run on the 13th Feb as I train for sweeping at Africa's Wildest Ultra. It also means this the following weekend (comment or find me on socials to RSVP):

*I dropped from Karkloof 100 (the last of the AMUK 100 milers) because I dehydrated badly. I sought medical attention and they recommended a trip to the emergency room. I was fortunate... it shouldn't lead to any long term damage. I knew the signs, had promised myself (and my family) that I wouldn't put myself in unduly dangerous situations, and would seek assistance should it be necessary. You can read the full story here.

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