15 December 2010

The Aurora I Missed Last Night


Although I don't feel too cheated  because this was a 30 second exposure and it is still quite faint.

11 December 2010

Norwegian Gastronomique

It has been a week of weird and wonderful food. On Tuesday night I prepared Lutefisk for myself. After doing a bit of reading online I was under the impression that this was going to be a character building experience. Some sources had this to say:

  • a repulsive gelatinous fishlike dish that tasted of soap and gave off an odor that would gag a goat, and
  • reminiscent of the afterbirth of a dog or the world's largest chunk of phlegm
but, on the other hand, also
  • by all accounts the tastiest fish dish since pussy.
So, needless to say, I was also intrigued. After letting it soak overnight to get rid of most of the caustic soda, I baked it in the oven. At the same time, following instructions, fried up a hefty load of bacon. Then smothered the fish in bacon bits and bacon fat. Squirted it liberally with mustard. And sat down to eat... finding that it was actually pretty damn palatable and that the consistency was perfect. Or maybe I was just lucky.


Last night was the Christmas function in the Physics Department at UiB. Thomas had persuaded me that Smalehove was the thing to have. And I willingly gave in. Thomas is a trustworthy guy. If he says that it is good, it is bound to be good. Well, this time I was perhaps not quite so lucky. Look, it is not an experience that I regret. I am happy to be able to say that I have eaten a sheep's head. I am filled with a sense of satisfaction in knowing that I have popped an entire sheep's eye (about the size and consistency of a squash ball) in my mouth and chewed. But as the whole thing got cool (which it did quite rapidly), it started to get less and less appetising. And by the time that I peeled back the lips and observed that this sheep was definitely not too big on oral hygiene, I am afraid to say that I had lost my commitment. Anyway, I pressed on valiantly so that all that remained on my plate was a bare skull. And next to that a very empty glass of Aquavit.



06 December 2010

(Tr)ack Addict?

This might just be the start of something... I propelled myself voluntarily up the mountain once again this evening to indulge in the lunacy of 10 laps of a 400m. And I did this because I kind of enjoyed it last time. In a very masochistic kind of way. There is a lot to be said for running fast. Well, not that I really have an pretensions to running really fast. That is just never going to happen. But running faster than usual is quite thrilling. And the 1 minute breaks in between repetitions are just heavenly. But go by so damn quickly. Some sort of weird sadistic time contraction in effect? Anyway, Dad, I can see what you liked about this track running, but how you could even consider putting waist high obstacles in the way is beyond me!

05 December 2010

Orienteering Championship

Attended the UiB Orienteering Club Championship this afternoon in Sanviken. Got a little bit lost on the way there, which did not bode well for my performance. By the time I arrived, everyone else had already started. Stripped off all the wintery kit and started out with timing chip, compass and map in hand. The compass turned out to be totally unnecessary because the map was pretty good. Although I did have some trouble with gauging the scale. But I am telling myself that this is what happens when you try to run and read a map at the same time! The route consisted of 10 waypoints which had to be done in sequence.


My times:

  • WP 1: 02:54
  • WP 2: no time (timing post removed)
  • WP 3: 16:03
  • WP 4: 17:45
  • WP 5: 21:12
  • WP 6: 23:15
  • WP 7: 25:47
  • WP 8: 30:54
  • WP 9: 33:52
  • WP 10: 35:56
  • finish: 38:03
Very cool afternoon!

01 December 2010

Air Quality Crisis

The headline in the local Bergen newspaper today is "Krisemøte om luften i dag", which I gather means that the air quality is really bad. And it is quite dingy outside:


But not what I would consider to be a crisis. So we have been advised not to engage in any outdoor activities. I guess that this means that my run this morning was ill advised. Sigh. Looks like I am just going to have to slack off until this calamity passes. ;-)

29 November 2010

Intevals at Skansemyren

Track workouts are great. Especially when you can drive to the track, roll out of your car, trot around for a bit and then drive home. When you have to run across town then up the side of a mountain to get to the track, things are a little more challenging. Then, of course, there is the descent on jelly legs afterwards. And all of that at sub-zero temperatures... This is really testing my commitment.

BSI Orienteering this Week

Monday, November 29th at 6.00 pm

Janita has the practice at Skansemyren. There will be running intervals, 10 x 400 meters. Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, November 30th at 6.00 pm

Urb-O Cup at Krohnegen skole. Meet at Krohnegen skole. Free start between 6.00 pm. and 7.00 pm. There will be five short tracks. Registration here before Monday evening at 10.00 pm.

Sunday, December 5th at 1.00 pm
We organize club championship in Sandviken. Meet at Meyermarken. There is a track about 3.5 km and a track for beginners about 2 km. There will be street orientation with elements of park and forest. Bring your EKT-chip if you have. Otherwise, you can borrow one from us.

Sunday, December 5th 6.00 pm
Christmas end and porridge at Janita, Gjeble Pederssøns gate 9A. Welcome!
Do you want to join the club championship and / or Christmas end? Send an e-mail to bsi.orientering@gmail.com before Thursday, December 2th.

14 November 2010

Over the 'flu and Up the mountain

I think I have finally kicked the 'flu. No longer coughing up chunky bits and chest is not aching any more. That is not to say that I am not still having trouble breathing on runs, but I put that down to the air temperature. Well, that is what I am telling myself anyway. This morning I ran across town and then made my way gradually up Fløyen. Once you get up through the housing at the base of the mountain, you are onto gravel tracks that zig-zag back and forth up the side. The paths are strewn with red and yellow autumn leaves right now, which makes them really spectacular. That is if you can focus to appreciate the surroundings! I think that I got to an altitude of around 320 metres in just under 28 minutes, which considering that I started from the other side of town, is not too bad. For comparison, the funicular gets up there in only 8 minutes... But then it starts half way up!

02 November 2010

And then to Norway

Arrived in Bergen, Norway, yesterday after a fairly epic trip. Weather on arrival was anomalously good, but I was informed by a number of folk that it would not last. And, indeed, they were correct: this morning is overcast and drizzly. Still battling off the tail end of a nasty bout of 'flu, but having been a lazy ass for over a week, I thought it was high time to get out and do something. So I went out for a rather brief trot around my immediate neighbourhood, taking care not to slip on the leaf-strewn sidewalks. Can definitely feel the results of my sloth and the great big clump of residual phlegm that I am still toting around. Even at 08:30 it is still pretty dim, so it felt a lot earlier than it actually was. Tomorrow I will get out for a trot when things are a little more quiet: I only woke up at around 07:00 this morning, which is grossly out of character!

12 July 2010

Budapest... Finally!

Just arrived at the Peregrinus Hotel in Budapest. It is lovely coming back to Hungary, being picked up by Janos at the airport and being greeted by Andrea at the guesthouse. Especially after such an epic trip. I left Durban at around 15:00 yesterday afternoon, flying to Johannesburg. I waited until around 21:00 for my flight to Munich. Got onto that plane and, shortly after takeoff found that my little TV wasn't working. Not good because it totally messes with my routine of getting liquored while watching a movie and then dozing off. Plus I was sitting next to an American guy (now living in Cologne) who said that he had been out in South Africa to choreograph some of the dancing for the Soccer World Cup. Don't know whether I quite believed him, but he looked the part. But then, after he saw me editing a lightning paper, he started on his own private conspiracy theory about "them" flying back and forth across Europe seeding clouds in a grid... at which point I started to panic because the last thing I want to do when I get on a plane is to be engaged in conversation. Fortunately though he got into a movie and I engulfed a bottle of wine and a couple of miniature whiskeys before falling asleep. And having a very uncomfortable night because I just got could get comfortable and my bum went to sleep.

Arrived in Munich and, full of optimism, tried to change my itinerary. Was informed that for the paltry sum of around 900 euros they could indeed send me direct to Budapest... at which point I realised that I was in for a very long day since there was no way I could justify that! So I waited around at Munich airport before taking the short flight across to Berlin. Then a much, much longer wait there for my flight back to Munich. And another short wait for the final leg to Budapest.

I have totally earned the couple of glasses of wine which I am about to consume while washing down my cheese and salami sandwiches. And then I am going to sleep like the deceased.

24 June 2010

Race Day Photos

Had a look at what actionphoto snapped of me during the Comrades. This was about the best of the lot. I think that this was going up towards 45th Cutting. Wonder what I was looking so pissed off about?


And then there is the video footage. I wish that we could download this. There is no way that I am sufficiently conceited to buy the DVD.

31 May 2010

Comrades Marathon 2010


The day did not start particularly well, with a massive traffic snarl at the Marianhill Toll Plaza. For a start the credit card lane was "broken" and then they had a couple of the other lanes which were just not open. As a result the enormous stream of traffic was funnelling down to just a few lanes. It took forever to get through. Once we were on our way again, the volume of traffic was absolutely insane. It was just so much busier than last year. Obviously, because the numbers were much larger, but there was no police presence to make sure that the traffic flowed easily into Pietermaritzburg. Everyone was just left to get on with it, which I suppose, is what we have come to expect from the police force. I had to jump out of the car and run to the start because there was just no way that Claire was going to be able to drop me off nearby in time. By the time I got to the seeding pens, C batch was already busting out of the gate. Somewhere before "Chariots of Fire" began to play, the whole crowd shifted forward and I was able to worm my way into the pens. I didn't notice too much else about the start because I was still so stressed about getting there in time and missing my trip to the delightful porta-potties. The cock crowed, the gun went off and we were on our way.

The different route out of maritzburg seemed to take quite a bit longer, but I suspect that was just in my head. Just before Polly Shortts I had to make a dash for the bushes because my stomach was feeling awful. I subject a tree to something completely inhumane as I watched the field trot on by. Felt a little better afterwards. I made sure to run carefully down Polly Shortts, going with a short stride and conserving my quads. Up and down Little Pollys and then the long pull up to Lions' Park, where Claire was waiting for me with my first bottle of juice. Was lovely to see her and she was easy to spot with her fairy alice band. Did a bit of walking from there up to Umlaas Road while drinking my bottle. The ratio of Energade to Rehidrat was better this time and the combination was not half as nauseating. Was playing a bit of catch-up at this stage, having lost so much time in the bushes. I got into the back of what we assumed was the 10 hour bus and trotted along with them for a while. The pace was a bit too slow and the density of the pack was quite irritating, with lots of stop-start (or at least fast-slow) running. Coming down into Camperdown my stomach was feeling bad again, so I once again found a secluded spot on the side of the road in a massive patch of weeds, from which I could watch the race go by while sorting out my issues. Felt a lot better after that and it was my last serious stop of the race.

Going through Camperdown I passed a father running with his two sons. Very cool! Then across the N3 and into Cato Ridge where I found Claire again with my second bottle and 1/3 of a hot dog. Under the N3 again and into Harrison Flats. This bit actually went very quickly and we were soon at Ethembeni School and then going around to the bottom of Inchanga, where my faithful second was again, this time with juice, hotdog and a bunch of flowers. I reckon that if dropping a flower on Arthur's Seat gives you a good second half, then carrying those flowers all the way up Inchanga and down the other side has got to give you an even better finish. Walked a lot on the way up the hill. Then started running on the descent down into Drummond. Walked up the far side all the way to Arthur's Seat, which by this stage was absolutely packed with foliage. The next bit past Alverstone to the top of Botha's Hill is quite hard, but I was into a good run/walk cycle and I was feeling fine.

Hit the Athletics North table at the bottom of Botha's Hill and picked up my sachet of tuna, which I ate with  my hands coming up the far side. Was very thankful that I had a wet wipe with me to get the fishyness off my fingers. I had been dreading the bit from Hillcrest through to Kloof since I really suffered there last year, but since I was going a lot slower this time it did not seem to bad. Up until this stage I had not taken anything, but I started to feel pretty sore so I took a Myprodol around Kloof station. Crossed back over the highway and then through the beautiful tree-lined section going into Kloof village. Feeling pretty good at this stage. Onto the highway and started down Field's Hill. Legs feeling quite fine and the descent was not too bad. Scrupulously avoided making the error of looking up and seeing the sea at this stage. I had planned on running to the bottom of the hill and then taking a walk. But when I got to the bottom I was feeling rather fine so I ran a bit further. I had been trying to do the maths in my head but, since I was actually finding it a little difficult to focus my eyes on things on the side of the road, this was not working out too well. I concluded that there was no way that I could run the remaining 20 km in 1:45, so a Bill Rowan was out of the question. Once I had resigned myself to a Bronze (not a big surprise since I had been taking it rather easy), I felt a lot better since the pressure was off. The run through Pinetown went very quickly. I had my sights set on seeing the Family on Cowie's Hill. It was amazing to have Mom, Dad, Storm and Emma there supporting me and I LOVED getting a hug from my kids. Picked up another juice and a delicious slice of quiche and kept on walking to the top of the hill. Ran down the other side. When I got to the bottom I settled back into the run/walk routine. Saw Yvette just before Westville and then Claire again a little later with another bottle of juice and the tail end of the hot dog.

The long slow descent from Westville to the bottom of 45th Cutting took ages and I was feeling damn tired, but still running about 4/5 of each km. Walked up 45 Cutting and just as I started running down the other side I came up behind Brad, who by this stage was just walking. I had planned on doing run/walk to the finish but I stopped and walked with him for quite a while and caught up on his race. After we got up onto the N3 we did the occasional bit of running and slowly made our way up and over Toll Gate and down the N3 into Durban. The city was not nearly as crowded as last year, probably because it was a Sunday. This made a huge difference because that insane throng was just a bit too much! Finally turned left and ran towards the stadium. Got onto the grass right next to Brad and we ran through to the finish line together.

The "new and improved" Comrades medals are bloody disappointing: they look like the same cheap crap that you get at other races, nothing like the special small Comrades medals that we have received in the past.

29 May 2010

Restlessness & Anxiety

I have had the crappest two nights' sleep. The day before the race and I am up, in the kitchen, eating instant porridge at 04:00, having just spent the last hour trying to get back to sleep. Mildly hungover from the few extra glasses of wine that I had last night just to feel sane at bed time. My plans for having afternoon naps the last two afternoons did not come to fruition: no naps. Somehow the afternoons just slipped away. I had better get in a serious nap this afternoon. I have been taking it very easy since wednesday. Thursday I spent most of the day coaching Storm with his Maths. Yesterday I had all to myself. Mostly. Spent the morning lying on my bed working. Went through periods where I would suddenly realise that I was almost panting and that my heart rate was thundering... and I had to actively calm myself down. Did two trips to uShaka yesterday afternoon, ferrying Emma. The second trip took about two hours because of the road closures for the World Cup "practice". Today I am going to get totally selfish: it's going to be about me and the race. Everyone else had better sort themselves out.

25 May 2010

Tapering

So, only five days to go to Comrades 2010... deep in the middle of my taper. Last night when i got into bed I had a bad case of the sniffles. Maybe I was coming down with something or maybe it was the dust from the duvet which I finally had to drag out and dump on the bed (winter seems to be finally arriving, but without too much enthusiasm). This morning when I got up at 04:00 I was feeling a little bit under the weather. Not sick. But not particularly well. And not at all enthusiastic about running. So I managed to persuade myself that it would be better to run in the warmth of midday than to go out into the cold and dark. So I stayed at home and worked a bit instead.

I got back into bed at around 06:00 and snuggled up to Claire. I had had too much coffee by that stage to realistically think about going back to sleep, so I lay there and tried to do some race visualisation. Went through the whole thing in my head. Amazing how you can memorise an entire route. The only bit I am a bit sketchy about is the first bit through Maritzburg, otherwise I can see the whole route. The thing that worries me is that the whole thing fills me more with dread than excitement right now. I kept on worrying about how tired and sore I would be feeling by the time that I got to Kloof. I need to work on setting up some positive thought patterns there.

13 May 2010

Sleeping and Running

Just had two of the most appalling nights' sleep in succession. Too many other things going on upstairs... Anyway, so this has meant that the last two morning runs have been called off. This is damn frustrating and i am imagining the kg's piling on and my aerobic capacity plummeting. No matter how much I tell myself that these thoughts are rubbish, there they are, niggling away at the back of my mind. If I can summon the energy I will go out and do the Hill Run route around midday today. That should keep the daemons at bay for a while.

29 April 2010

Hill Run

Went out on the Regents hill run this morning. Felt pretty good and was powering up most of the hills and not needing too much in the way of recovery when I got to the tops. Have been cutting down on my intake of the good red wine for the last few nights and this has made a massive difference to how I have been feeling in the mornings. Instead of being groggy and mildly hungover, I am feeling pretty good. Of course, the down side to this is that I am not sleeping quite as well without the alchohol induced coma. Decisions, decisions.

25 April 2010

Up to Hillcrest

Took a run from Musgrave up to Hillcrest. Got a reasonably early start, so things were quiet going through 45th cutting and Westville. The long slow climb was a bit of a grind and I had a narrow encounter with a taxi driver who obviously was not too keen on (white) runners and came bloody close to me as he pulled over to the side of the road. Going up the back of Cowie's Hill was not too bad and I enjoyed the descent into Pinetown. Quite a few other runners on the route, most of them going in the opposite direction. I had planned on getting a Coke in Pinetown but did not pass any garages with shops attached, so just pressed on through. Fields Hill was a long hard grind and I was very glad to get to the top and come to a stop at the garage where I invested in a 500 ml Coke which went down a treat. Put the last third of that into my backpack and continued up through Kloof and onto the freeway. Stopped for another short stroll at the Dandy Dude car wash to finish off the Coke and send a SMS to Claire to say that I was getting close. Crossed over the freeway and made my way through Hillcrest. Went through to the base of Botha's Hill before turning right and climbing back up to Claire's Mom's place. A very good start to a Sunday although I was finished for the last few kilometres.

And, to the bastard who clipped my elbow with the wing mirror of his great big hulking SUV as I ran through Pinetown and failed to stop: I hope that somebody hits either you or somebody you love really hard and really soon.

19 April 2010

Route Tester

Yesterday we went out for a bit of a trot on the Comrades route. We started on Harrison Flats and were pretty diligent about staying on the route apart from a couple of spots where it was not possible or just downright dangerous. I felt pretty good most of the way although my hips and knees were sore towards the end. The total distances was about 52 km. I also figured out that my new shoes (bought in the USA two years ago) are going to be no good. My previous ones were apparently identical, but this pair is much too tight and my toes were damn sore.

The route is at http://www.gmap-pedometer.com/?r=3652906.

08 April 2010

Back on Track

Throat feeling much better. Would say that it is about 97.5% fixed. So, just to get back into the game I took a short trot up from All Africa House this morning. Nothing too strenuous, but with a pretty decent ascent. Somewhere just more than 4 km. Felt fine. Okay, so game on again.

03 April 2010

Bloody, Bloody (#&@%ing) Miserable

Yesterday was supposed to be a day of resting and carbo-loading. When I woke up though I had a bit of a sore throat. It was early so I did a bit of work and waited for the shops to open (and also for the lovely Claire to wake up). Then at 09:00 (it was a public holiday, so I was just lucky that they were opening at all) I drove down to Rondebosch and spoke to the chemist. He said that it was "probably just a 24 hour virus" and that since it was not below my neck and my pulse rate was not elevated, there should not be a problem. He gave me some Andolex spray and suggested that I take on lots of vitamin C. Got some other provisions and headed home. Claire was up and about when me, pottering around in the kitchen. I whipped up the ultimate "get-well-in-a-hurry" breakfast: two slices of toast with blue cheese, one chopped green chillie and a whole flower of garlic (lightly fried). Chased that down with a cup of ginger tea and retired to bed... from which we did not emerge until very late in the day. During the course of the day the throat did not get any worse. But it also did not get any better.

At 18:00 we were scheduled to meet up with Troy, Fiona, Brad and Robyn for dinner at Posticino. Had a few glasses of wine and a delicious bowl of gnocci with chicken livers on top. And about two table spoons of fresh ground garlic and a good load of fresh chillie. I thought that all of these medicinal compounds would definitely sort me out. Were in bed at about 21:00.

I slept quite well but sometime in the early morning I woke up and my throat was on fire. It had definitely got a whole lot worse and immediately I knew that the race was just not going to happen for me this year. It is bloody frustrating that this has happened at the last minute after all that preparation. But I suppose that it is better that it happened now than before Comrades. Sent SMS to both Troy and Brad to tell them that I would not be racing. Then went back to bed. We heard all the folk arriving and parking their cars around the neighbourhood. The sound of the early morning runners' chats and the music. It was pretty bloody miserable lying in bed hearing everyone heading off down the road to the start.

We got up in time to head up to the finish to see Troy and Mat come in. They did around 01:50 for the 21.1 km, which is a very respectable effort.


 

31 March 2010

Overweight and Undertrained

is apparently not entirely a bad way to be before an ultra. At least according to Bruce Fordyce. But his measuring stick is probably very different to mine. Anyway, I think that I have managed to achieve at least one of these.

Did my last training run for Two Oceans this morning. Another glorious trip up to Rhodes Memorial and back.

29 March 2010

Dress Rehearsal

Yesterday I got Claire out of bed early (on her first Sunday in Cape Town) so that she could chauffeur Troy, Matt and me out to do a run. We started at the bottom of Southern Cross Drive and then followed the half marathon route. I do not know what the big fuss with that hill is... it's a doddle compared to either Chapman's Peak or Constantia Nek! It was good to see what the other half are doing while we are just getting into the ultra. Arrived home to find that Claire had made us a fantastic cooked breakfast. Think that gave Troy and Matt something to think about. Spent the rest of the day trying to reward Claire for her excellent efforts.

This morning got up super early because I needed to prepare a lecture and I wanted to go for a run. Trotted up to Rhodes Memorial just before sunrise. It was absolutely spectacular with the mountains across the flats cut out of the orange glow of the early morning sky.

26 March 2010

All Africa House

Back in Cape Town, staying at All Africa House on UCT's Middle Campus. An ideal spot for the Two Oceans since it is just down the road (like 5 minutes walk) from the finish. Got a better room this time, on the side of the building so I am away from the parkin area outside the Law Faculty. For some reason the rubbish removal lorry always visits that building at around 20:00. Seems pretty dodgy to me. Like those lawyer types are up to some sort of nefarious business.

For reference though, the room to be in next time is F7 or, even better, J7. This is where we were last time and they are much bigger than the others and less, um, rectangular.

24 March 2010

Hermanus Doldrums

Almost another week has slipped by and I am wallowing in the sloth of another rest day. Being down in Hermanus for the NASSP MSc practicals I am working until late at night and then getting up early to start again. Eating late at night and drinking too many glasses of wine to get the mind to turn off. Too much coffee. Too much time sitting on my ass in front of a computer. It is all not very conducive to athletics!

Just around 10 days to go before the Two Oceans. I have a bit of a scratchy throat (which is part of the reason that I am resting today) but nothing too serious. I am going to dose that with some strong ginger tea in a little while.

18 March 2010

Rest Day

Thursday again, so it's rest day. Brad has tried to persuade me to change my schedule to agree with his (Monday rest day), but since he was the one who originally persuaded me to shift it to a Thursday (from my original Monday!), I am resisting the change. Just as a matter of principle!

11 March 2010

Video Footage

Bits of video footage from the race:
  1. Stage 1
  2. Stage 2 
  3. Stage 3
  4. Stage 4
  5. Stage 5

05 March 2010

The World's Largest Tin of...


Baked beans! :-) Thanks. I will not be running anywhere with these in my backpack.

01 March 2010

Messages During the Race

Merrilie [Feb 26 2010 8:16 AM]
Andrew many congratulations for your result, and I hope that you enjoyed
running with my mad daughter little?! I thought that you were a seasoned
runner till I read the last post! You are amazing to have run so well
and your parents must be sooooo proud of you. Best wishes Merrilie x

andrew collier [Feb 26 2010 6:16 AM]
we are fairly bursting with pride at your fantastic result. so much for
the guy who was just going to run for the experience, and only just
wanted to finish the race. you are some real dark horse!! love you so
much and can't wait for your triumphant return home. the 'overwhelmed
oldies'

mimi anderson [Feb 26 2010 6:10 AM]
have just received some 'unofficial' results----well done for a
fantastic run. you are one tough and talented runner and we have no
doubt that andrew enjoyed running with, and against you. as an absolute
novice in that kind of racing he must have learnt a great deal from you
regarding the tactical side of extreme long-distance running. well done
to all of those crazy folk who even contemplated the race---you're all
quite mad, but very brave. andrew's old folks

andrew collier [Feb 25 2010 3:11 AM]
the superlatives leap off the pages of the dictionary jostling, and
shouting "use me, use me!!" and yet we are pretty speechless with pride
and exhausted by your ability. the finish is in sight---try to maintain
your focus. well done, son, hang in there!

troy and fi [Feb 24 2010 8:49 PM]
andrew collier - dude, you are so nearly there. soft bed waiting for you
in cape town... huge love from us here, and cream it tomorrow! :pray:

Claire Bastion [Feb 24 2010 7:58 PM]
Andrew my darling...you have reached the last day and you've done
brilliantly! Put in that last slog today and enjoy your delicious meal
and beer at the end. You really have earned it. I am so proud of you.
Can't wait to see you on Saturday. I love you more and more every day.
Yours, Claire x

Andrew Collier [Feb 24 2010 6:59 PM]
To: Andrew Collier Hey Daddy :) Well done!!! Can't believe you're coming
first!! :0 well actually come to think of it i can:D .Hope you aren't a
tomatoe?? :pray: Best of luck for tommorrow,your last day, lots of love
Stinkerbelle,Sonja & Storm Ps: The verification to sign the guest book
is so sad, i think you'd laugh yourself silly,you being so brainy and
all ;)

iona [Feb 24 2010 3:31 PM]
I'm sure that andrew collier is a really nice man BUT BEAT
HIM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! good luck Iona

Andrew Collier [Feb 24 2010 1:42 PM]
I see a man that has been challanged with everything life can throw at
you, love, sorrow, hope, happiness and pure intellect...this my dear
friend is your passion for stimulation and achievement - you cannot help
but completely conquer it whilst all must step aside. Just continue and
its a done deal. So so proud mate TK

Andrew Collier [Feb 24 2010 1:30 PM]
Mate, first place is not good enough!:P Looks like you have only 40 mins
to spare...yawn....you'll nail it boet! If someone trips you along the
way and you dont....I'll come box their ears - Youre a legend!Your
already a winner.

Andrew Collier [Feb 24 2010 1:09 PM]
Andrew, best wishes for a good finish from Team Button (who are rooting
for you, but also trying to keep cool here in the coastal swamp called
Durban).:)

Brett Florens [Feb 24 2010 6:27 AM]
Andrew - Chicks dig hot sweaty sandy athletes!! Well done my mate, you
have achieved so much and are an inspiration to all. Keep the focus!

Stephen Light [Feb 24 2010 5:06 AM]
Hi Tumbleweed (Andrew Collier) You are such an awesome runner and we are
very proud of you. We are all going out for a baked beans dinner tonight
in your honour. Hang tough and enjoy the journey. God Bless, your mates
at Regents

andrew collier [Feb 24 2010 4:15 AM]
the novice from k z n----you are amazing!! today is the big one. have a
good day---our thoughts are with you. enjoy the view from the top, and
don't forget to take the time to smell the welwichias!! tell mimi that
you are also an anderson--by tom, of garigill in the 'peaks'. all our
love, m & d

Jason Trauner [Feb 23 2010 9:40 PM]
So my maths teacher is now a runner !!! Good luck for the last day,
that's an awesome effort. I have made contact with Troy through the Ker,
just thought I'd say Hi, Later Jman

Andrew Collier [Feb 23 2010 8:18 PM]
Kick some butt, they are all just a bunch of pansies. Well done mate -
very proud of you. TK

andrew collier [Feb 23 2010 8:08 PM]
good luck for the big day tomorrow. ;)

Sandy Aiken [Feb 23 2010 7:51 PM]
Wow Andrew, so now I know the reason for you training your guns so hard!
Looking sharp tumble weed, you definately aren't lacking the talent.
Hang in there and let God do what he does best! You can rest your guns
when you get back, LOL! Good luck today 23rd, I will be with you in my
thoughts! Sands from Regents

Brad Chislett [Feb 23 2010 5:47 PM]
Andrew, I am impressed with the times. Also very glad it's not me out
there! Good luck for Wednesday's run. Cheers, Brad.

troy and fi [Feb 23 2010 5:44 PM]
for andrew collier: wow - we cannot believe how well you are doing!
beein thinking of you everyday, and sending you happy thoughts of fresh
legs, cool water, and clean socks! rock on, brother - you can do this
thing! klap it!

Claire Bastion [Feb 23 2010 9:49 AM]
Andrew you are amazing my darling! Keep going and remember that we are
all so proud of you here at home :) I'm with you all the way. I love you.

yvette [Feb 23 2010 8:27 AM]
awesome stuff andrew...!

andrew collier [Feb 23 2010 4:40 AM]
wow 'rew. we are in awe of your efforts. now please don't overcook the
cake!just respect the bod and heed the messages.just a finish will make
us all sooo proud. love you-----the oldies

Claire Bastion [Feb 22 2010 8:15 PM]
Hi Andrew. You are going to be super fine for the rest of the race. I am
there with you all the way. So so so PROUD of you. I can't wait to see
you on Saturday. I love you very much. Yours, freckle x

andrew collier [Feb 21 2010 10:32 AM]
yo 'rew. hope that you've had a great first day's run. enjoy the r & r
and the rest of the race. the old folks

Claire Bastion [Feb 21 2010 10:02 AM]
Hi Andrew. Day one is down and I'm sure you're gaiters are serving you
well ;) I am thinking about you every minute of the day. Keep going
darling. I love you so much and I'm so very proud of you xx

Notes for Next Time

So the race is over and I have a number of things that could be done better.

Before the Race
  • Don't pack anything sharp (like your race knife) in your carry-on luggage!
Food

Things that smelled great but were (sadly) not in my food pack:
  • macaroni cheese
  • rissotto
Other Things
  • much more electrolytes (the nuun tablets look very damn handy)
  • methylate and needles/blades for lancing blisters
  • wet wipes
  • suntan lotion in sachets (made by Island Style)

      Durban Dissatisfaction

      Back home in Durban. I have had a string of great showers and I think that most of the Namib dust has now been scrubbed and flushed from the various grimey nooks and crevices. I shaved off the race beard last night and am looking almost respectable. The race is rapidly becoming a distant memory. Taking on a fantasy perspective, like it never really happened.

      Flying back to the Cape this morning. Maybe I am just in a crabby mood, but a few things have already pissed me off this morning. Like the fact that my ticket was "checked" by not one but two officious black gentlemen before I got to the metal detector. Is it really necessary to have this kind of sheltered employment? If you are going to give people a job, surely you can find something useful for them to do? Like cleaning the grotty toilets? Or is that just below their diginity? Or in conflict with their basic human rights? And then there are those shoe shine scum, who accost you immediately you enter the departure hall. Thank God I wear slops, so they leave me alone. Otherwise I think that this morning I might have said something that would not be considered in any way politically correct.

      25 February 2010

      Participants and Results

      Pos.NameRace #Stage 1Stage 2Stage 3Stage 4Stage 5Overall
      1Mimi Anderson255:12:305:22:265:17:306:13:383:17:2425:23:28
      2Andrew Collier294:12:375:42:305:17:307:22:133:39:0926:13:59
      3Sam Rigg145:32:315:57:235:17:307:19:143:39:0927:45:47
      4Isabella de la Houssaye166:03:306:06:015:31:427:11:203:25:0228:17:35
      5Kevin Mowat246:05:156:12:065:49:348:34:143:17:2429:58:33
      6Alpheus Haushona105:47:006:26:055:31:428:08:094:06:0829:59:04
      7Russell Paschke125:50:586:17:196:46:508:34:324:21:0031:50:39
      8Frank Schacht176:29:206:35:456:32:388:36:554:10:5532:25:33
      9James Binks46:19:086:49:326:53:208:55:334:19:5733:17:30
      10Robyn Benincasa206:14:226:43:506:35:409:11:024:36:3033:21:24
      10Florence Debout216:14:226:43:506:35:409:11:024:36:3033:21:24
      10Melissa Cleary226:14:226:43:506:35:409:11:024:36:3033:21:24
      10Louise Cooper236:14:226:43:506:35:409:11:024:36:3033:21:24
      14Esme du Plessis26:29:207:22:057:25:378:15:454:00:0733:32:54
      15Paddy Craig17:20:336:49:326:31:058:59:044:41:1534:21:29
      16Kerrie Larson Kerkman287:07:237:34:026:35:409:11:024:36:3035:04:37
      17Dup du Plessis36:56:277:22:057:25:379:20:084:48:0835:52:25
      18Masha Glanville187:08:027:34:027:01:269:52:034:56:4036:32:13
      19Jonea Mounsey267:08:037:34:027:01:269:52:034:56:4036:32:14
      20Alexander Heerschap77:17:307:44:449:07:5012:38:265:04:4641:53:16
      21Ian Howard277:01:027:56:508:38:2713:05:227:25:0944:06:50

      Hilary Walker66:45:097:48:509:23:40DNF--

      Andy Masters157:30:208:31:158:17:18DNF--

      Tinus Hansen136:51:508:08:409:50:00DNS--

      Sharon Paschke117:56:499:15:00DNF---

      Buys Steenkamp54:55:55DNS----

      Knill Baird Murray88:12:50DNF----

      Chris Dunlop97:30:20DNF----

      Day 5: Big Daddy and the Finish

      Long flat run. Ran along with Sam and Isabella. After a while I think our pace became a little too pedestrian for Isabella and she took off. Then into the dunes. Checkpoint 1 at bottom of far side of first dune. Shoes took on remarkably little sand.


      Across a wide, barren pan with occasional dead tree stumps.


      Rounding the corner, daunted by the sheer enormity of Big Daddy, reputed to be the largest sand dune in the world. And we were going all the way to the top!

       
      Lung and leg busting ascent. I ejected most of my remaining pulmonary alveoli onto the back of Sam's legs. Then loped down into Dead Pan, the loose dune sand squelching metallically beneath our feet.


      Checkpoint 2 had no water. But picked some up from crew on top of first rise. Short walk across the deep sand and then trotted into the finish. Mimi, Isabella, Kevin and Knill already in and looking quite rested. Must have been the beer, because within minutes I was feeling that way too. Thanks, Sam, another great run.

      --
      Sent from my mobile device

      24 February 2010

      Day 4: The Long Day

      After three successive marathons in the scorching heat of the Namib I was surprised to fine that I was not feeling too bad at the start of the fourth day, during which we would complete an 56 km ultra-marathon and climb a massive dune at the end. We started off with a run along a gravel track heading towards the top of the Sesriem Canyon. We had been given strict instructions not to deviate from the path since we might just fall into the canyon. Well, we were all very obedient and nobody ended up a twisted mess of limbs at the bottom of the canyon, choosing to enter it in a more graceful fashion.


      Just after getting into the canyon it became very narrow and our way was blocked by a deep pool. The majority of the runners just went through with their tekkies on but, since I did not have a single blister to date, I intended to keep it that way and so took the cautious route, removing my shoes first. I lost quite a bit of time taking them off and then carefully putting them back on again on the far side (applying bottom butter to my heels), so that once I was back up and running again I had more than a handful of runners ahead of me. I worked my way back past the Project Athena girls until I could see Sam some way ahead, Mimi and Isabella some way ahead in the distance. The lower portions of the canyon were really spectacular but heavy going under foot since the river bed was just fist sized boulders.


      I caught up with Sam after a few km and we came into the second checkpoint together. Then started on a long stretch of tar road. Gentle undulations that just went on forever and ever. My gut had been giving me a bit of trouble and I had to stop for a very picturesque interval on the side of the road. Finding cover in the Namib is not very easy and I was desperately crouching behind a very scrawny piece of shrubbery.

      After checkpoint 3 we passed into a valley with dunes on either side. It was very spectacular scenery, but by this stage we were pretty buggered and hot as hell. We had kicked into a solid 5:1 regime and were making some progress but there was no sign of the ladies ahead of us.

      At checkpoint 4 we were (mis)directed towards Dune 45, lying some 10 km away on the far side of a tarred road with a dry river bed in between. We made slow progress through the river bed because the sand was very light and loose and not easy to get a good pace going. Once we had crossed the road we were able to see Isabella some way ahead of us. She seemed to be heading in the same direction as us, but after a few km she adjusted her course and headed towards a dune which was event further along the valley. If you looked very carefully you could see a tiny flag perched on top of that dune far, far away in the distance. That was the summit of Dune 45 and we would have to get up there before the day was done.


      Took an eternity for us to get to the final checkpoint, which also happened to be the end of the stage. But the ultimate wickedness was that before we could go and rest in the shade we had to ascend Dune 45.


      Mimi was already luxuriating in the shade, but gave us a stirring welcome. By the time that we had grabbed some more water and started ascending, Isabella was already on her way down. It took quite some time to reach the top, but it was certainly worth it since the view from up there was amazing.


      Came down at a gallop and collapsed in the shade. The rest of the field dribbled in during the course of the afternoon. Ian, who has got to be one of the toughest (but more pleasant) buggers I have ever met, came in with Chris just around sunset after spending an entire day hobbling along on feet that would scare even a hardened emergency room doctor.



      Not my best night's sleep since I went to bed covered in suntan lotion and desert sand, but since the end was in sight I was not too worried.

      --
      Sent from my mobile device

      23 February 2010

      Day 3: Back on Track

      Woke up feeling much better: rehydrate is wonderful stuff. Started out slowly but caught up with Mimi and Sam, who were setting a brisk pace. After the first checkpoint Mimi took off at pace and I trailed along behind Sam before slowly reeling him in. About halfway to the next checkpoint we caught up with Mimi. Sam had just managed to empty the better half of a bottle of energy drink over his head. And, apart from leaving him a sticky mess, this also meant that he ran out of water. After the second checkpoint we all ran together through to the finish. The swim in the reservoir at the end was amazing.

      --
      Sent from my mobile device

      22 February 2010

      Day 2: Awful!

      Woke up feeling really good. Were driven to the start which was at the base of a dune a little way further down the road. The organisers had decided to start the stage a half hour earlier, at 06:30, to try to avoid the heat of the day. Set off along a long meandering dust road through scenery which became progressively more desolate. Caught up with Mimi and ran along with her for a couple of km. She dropped back just before the first checkpoint, which was located at a water resevoir in the middle of nowhere.


      Ran into the second checkpoint at the base of the dunes with Mimi. Left the firm soil of the plains behind and started ascending into the dunes along a track. Much tougher going. Still feeling fine at this stage. At the crest of the first dune I stopped and sat down to empty the sand out of my shoes. Mimi went on ahead. For the next few km she was always a few hundred metres ahead of me. I started to tire. By the time that we got to the third checkpoint I was not feeling too good and I told Mimi to go ahead. Sat down under the umbrella and emptied my shoes again, loaded up with water and was back on the trail again. Really started to feel quite shit at this point and battling to run for any significant period of time. I should have known that something was not right at this stage. I was starting to feel dizzy and my ears were blocked (probably all the fluid had been sucked out of my eustacian tubes!). Within a few km I was reduced to walking and I watched Mimi get progressively further away. There was just no way that I could catch her: I was feeling like crap. I walked the entire last leg. All the time I was sure that Sam was going to catch up to me. The last couple of km in a dry river bed were interminable. Every time that I came around the corner I expected (and desperately hoped!), but was left to stumble on. Eventually though I spotted the flags at the end but did not have the energy to even summon up a trot for crossing the line. The foot ice bath felt wonderful. And I would have really enjoyed it were it not for the fact that my calves started cramping. And then my thighs. And then my stomach muscles. So I was pretty much racked with cramps all over. The medics were pretty incompetent: the doctor had finally arrived, but she was all bluster and not much help, and her two minions were just clueless. While my legs were cramping I was getting a toe massage. Yes, I shit you not! After sloshing a couple of litres of cold water and my revolting recovery drink into my system I started to feel a little better. Sam had come in shortly after me and was followed closely by Isabella.

      We camped out in the middle of nowhere. I was not really feeling up to appreciating the surroundings, though I wish I had been since it was lovely. I got a bottle of rehydrate from Amy and took my nausea to bed.


      --
      Sent from my mobile device

      21 February 2010

      Day 1: Heat and Thunderstorm

      Fantastic day to start the run. The field assembled at the start in the half light of dawn. Reasonably cool with a soft breeze. With a "Three, two, one... go!" we were off, trotting down a good Jeep track. The Sun was rising over the Namib as we worked our way across the plain, heading for the mountains.


      After dawdling around a bit at the beginning and stopping to take photos, I caught up with Sam and ran along with him for a bit, having a chat. Then I took off and passed Alpheus and a little while later Mimi. Saw some Springbox and Oryx quite near to the path. Rounded a small mountain and passed Nel and the cameraman at some Bushman paintings. Didn't stop to have a look, but at a run they appeared to be rather good examples.


      I could just see Buys ahead a few hundred metres. Slowly reeled him in as we approached the bottom of the pass. I had no real intention of passing him at this stage and I was feeling comfortable with the pace. Ascended the pace at a walk: it was way too rough to run.


      Just after getting through the pass we went down a gentle slope, around the corner and arrived at the first checkpoint, which was something of a revelation with icy water and crisp fresh rusks. And a chance to sit down in the shade and empty the sand out of my shoes. Arrived just after Buys and he left a few moments ahead of me.


      Ran along in the footsteps of Buys for another couple of km before joining him for a shortcut across the veld to the second checkpoint. After refuelling again we started on the long gradual incline back up to the mountain range. About halfway Buys stopped for a walk break but I was feeling fine so I pressed on. Arrived at the pass alone with no sign of Buys. Could see the long, long straight fence stretching towards the finish, maybe 10 km away.


      Had to walk down the pass because it was absurdly rough. I cannot believe that they even contemplated building a road through there! Running along that fence was tough and I started a run 5, walk 1 regime, more out of boredom than fatigue. It really took... ages to get there. I kept on thinking that in another km I would get to the end of the fence but it just stretched on and on. And on. Eventually when the camp site was directly across on my left the fence finally came to and end and I turned the corner for the last stretch across to the finish. I really could not believe that I had come in first. It was an amazing feeling to cross the line. But not half as amazing as the feeling of sitting down. It took quite a long time for Buys to arrive, and when he did he was looking shattered. It was really hot by that stage, somewhere around 50° C. I felt for the folk who were still out there. We went across and plunged into the pool. By the time we got back, Mimi had made it into camp. After that there was a gradual dribble of tired and hot runners back into camp.

      When everyone was in and we were all sheltering from the heat under the big open sided tent a storm started brewing over the mountains. Lots of lightning and rumbles. The wind picked up and soon the storm had moved overhead. We got a short, sharp and windy downpour. It was over within a few moments but broke the heat. Beautiful sunset.

      I was feeling pretty good at this stage, enjoyed my dinner and got to bed quite early. Heard from Buys just before hitting the sack that he had decided to pull out of the race.



      --
      Sent from my mobile device

      20 February 2010

      Satellite Image of the Sossuvlei Area and Stage Details


      The course consisted of 5 stages:
      1. 42.2 km (2 checkpoints);
      2. 44.0km (3 checkpoints);
      3. 42.2km (3 checkpoints);
      4. 56.0km (4 checkpoints) and summit of Dune 45;
      5. 26.0km (2 checkpoints) and summit of Big Daddy.
      Flags indicate the locations of Dune 45 and Big Daddy.

      Relativity

      Registered. Dumped food for last four days. Kit check. All done.
      Race camp is wonderful. I heard we would be sharing tents with five
      other people... Not so: individual tents. Nice.
      About the watch. Turns out I packed it in my running shoe. So it
      wasn't nicked. But i am still pissed about the knife. Hope the thief
      gets neutered by it in his sleep. Or better, while awake.
      --
      Sent from my mobile device

      Landed in Namibia

      Saw an amazing number of meteor craters from flight. Good breakfast. I
      hope that the bastard who rummaged through everything in my checked
      backpack and stole my pocket knife cuts of some sensitive body part
      and bleeds to death. And my watch... I hope you are always bloody
      late. You shit!
      --
      Sent from my mobile device

      19 February 2010

      Placating the Gastric Grumble

      Napoleon Bonaparte (or maybe Frederick the Great) is supposed to have said:

      "An army marches on its stomach"

      and I have the apetite of a one man army. So I was a little concerned when I learned that I would only be able to take about 4 kg of food for FIVE WHOLE DAYS, in which I would be doing some pretty strenuous exercise. But with a bit of thought, some consultation and a good portion of guesswork (I am an experimentalist at heart), I have come up with a menu which will hopefully satisfy the hungry beast within.


      Day 1:
      • 49 g sachet Hammer Recoverite
      • 100 g hydration powder
      • 2 bank bags of home made trail mix
      • 100 g soya mince
      • 100 g mixture of oats and Amandla Plus mealie meal, sugar and cinnamon
      • two 85 g sachets of John West tuna
      • a few Sparkles
      • 2 dried pear halves
      • 14 g sachet Rehidrat
      • 1 small ziplock bag of Nescafe granules
      • 3 tiny salt sachets
      • 1 vacuum-packed date square (for my pudding!)
      Day 2: same as Day 1.

      Day 3: same as Day 1.

      Day 4: same as Day 1.

      Day 5: same as Day 1, except no Recoverite, soya mince, tuna, Rehidrat or date square, and only one bag of trail mix.

      Emergency rations:
      • one date square
      • one tuna sachet
      • one vanilla bean Gu energy gel
      • two nut Jungle energy bars
      • 3 sachets salt
      • Rehidrat sachet
      The trail mix was concocted by hand and consisted of
      • peanuts and raisins
      • goji berries
      • pumpkin seeds
      • sunflower seeds
      • dried banana
      • almonds
      most of which were obtained at a spice merchant in Durban.

      The Rest of My Kit

      I will be running in:
      • New Balance 872 trail shoes (the funky yellow model)
      • trail socks
      • home made gaiters
      • LineBreak compression tights
      • club running shorts
      • Regents shirt (wicking material)
      • watch
      • sun glasses
      • floppy hat
      The backpack main pouch will have:
      • compass
      • small sewing kit
      • head torch
      • lighter
      • knife
      • cell phone
      • suntan lotion
      • lightweight towel
      • spare running shorts
      • boxers (for sleeping)
      • medical and toiletries bag
      The small front pouches will carry:
      • camera
      • Palmer's Cocoa Butter lip ice
      • Myprodol
      • toilet paper
      Medical and toiletries bag has:
      • space blanket
      • 3 Arnica event oil sachets
      • paper soap sheets
      • 2 small bars soap
      • Germolene ointment
      • deodorant
      • signal mirror
      • Tabard lotion
      • Myprodol
      • plasters (heavy duty and blister)
      • diarrhoea tablets (old Marion Island issue)
      • Norflex tablets
      • Palmer's Bottom Butter
      • safety pins
      • amazing email from my folks
      • pen
      That should be everything I need. Looking at the length of the list, this does not seem very "extreme" at all.

        Test from phone...

        Just checking that i can make blog entries via email from my phone.

        --
        Sent from my mobile device

        18 February 2010

        Last Training Run

        Last training run before the NDC. Decided to try one of the dirt roads which leads down from the tar road running past the bottom cable car station. Looking at these roads from the tar they look pretty even, but when you get down there you discover that there is a lot of up and down. It was a lovely evening though, so I was quite happy to do a bit of slogging. When I turned around to head back it was already getting quite dim and about half way back is was properly dark. A little spooky running along those isolated roads in the dark. Especially because when i was running through a small copse of trees I heard a bottle tumble down the bank just behind me, suggesting that there was somebody else around.


        So, all the training is done now.I have my last lecture tomorrow morning. Then the afternoon sorting out my luggage and stuff for the race. Hopefully getting a bit more work done and then hooking up with Troy and Fiona for a bit of dinner.

        17 February 2010

        Lion's Head and Signal Hill

        I suppose that I really just was not in the mood for running this evening. Too many work things on my mind. And I was tired after a very short night. And ratty. It was good to be out but my heart was not in it. Both Troy and I battled going up the Lion's Head path, which we attacked from the start. Had to have a couple of short breathers. Once we had got up and started coming down towards Signal Hill it was good though and there was a nice sunset taking shape.

        16 February 2010

        Run Along the Contour Path

        Had a very long and frustrating day at work and was still deeply bogged down in a problem when running time came around. Decided to run along the contour path on the front of Table Mountain, starting at Kloof Corner.


        Getting from the road up onto the contour path is damn hard work. Although the path zigs and zags, it is steep uphill all the way. There is a trig beacon at the top, from where you get a great view over the city and also down onto the beaches of the west coast.


         And once you are actually on the contour path it is none too easy either since it is rather technical, with lots of ups and downs, and a rather steep drop on one side at various points. Certainly no opportunity to relax and enjoy the view... that would certainly lead to grevious injury.

        15 February 2010

        Noordhoek Beach (Again) with Tired Legs

        My knees felt pretty good for the rest of yesterday. I woke up a couple of times durnig the night and hobbled a bit to get to the toilet.

        On the 06:10 flight back to Cape Town this morning.

        Returned to Noordhoek beach again this evening with Troy. The beach is still littered with kelp from the strong surf at the end of last week. We saw three big Cape Fur Seals that had washed up onto the beach. All very dead. The nature of the sand was completely different to the last run. Really soft and making for quite heavy going. Starting off was tough, but within a few minutes my legs were feeling fine and the pain in my knees had disappeared. The soft sand was really hard work and we oscillated between the wet and dry sand.

        14 February 2010

        Nimas Challenge Hillcrest Marathon

        Early start. Very early start. Very, very early start. Hillcrest marathon starts at 05:00. With the road "improvments" around Hillcrest the traffic was beyond epic, so it was just as well we left early (admittedly 30 minutes after we had planned to, but it was still a blistering time of the day) and that we did not have to find parking at the start since Claire just dropped me off. There was a huge field and folk were still registering at the nominal start time, so we got off the mark a few minutes late. I bumped into Doug in the first couple of km, which was cool. Stayed with him for most of the first lap. I was a little concerned about the state of my, um, innards after the episode on Thursday afternoon. Those portaloos are not a place I relish under any conditions. And even though it was a cool morning and they had not been stewing in the Sun four hours, I imagine that they were still pretty ripe. So I was rather relieved that I did not have to heed that particular call of nature. Okay, enough about my bowels. The first half went by without incident. Missed Claire at half way (she was battling to find parking). On the second lap I hooked up with a couple of guys who were doing the right pace and we kept together almost all the way to the end. One was a farmer from Richmond (whose name I gathered was John or Johnny or Jonathan, from the numerous blonde female marshalls who were threatening to do things to him with their flags) and the other guy I recognised from Durban North. Felt great through the rest of the race. Hip flexors got a bit tired towards the end and my right Achilles tendon started to get a little sore, but I could still put in a decent surge for the finish. Got to the tape in 03:57, which was much slower than I had originally planned, but probably a sensible time given the running I will be doing over the next couple of weeks.

        11 February 2010

        Barefoot on Noordhoek

        Met up with Troy for another run along Noordhoek beach this evening. Not quite as idyllic as the last time: there was quite a stiff breeze from the South and the sea was huge, having dumped loads of kelp onto the beach. Since the marsh at the back of the beach was full we elected to go barefoot. The run was great and we made good time, just maintaining a conversational pace. Nice to take a brisk splash through the water every now and then too. Barefoot is apparently the way.

        But... on the way across to Noordhoek my stomach started making the most ominous rumbling noises. It was so bad coming over Ou Kaapse Weg that I was seriously looking for places to pull over and find a bush. I opted for the relative comfort of a communal toilet in the Sun Valley shopping centre and got there just in time. I don't know where that came from but it hung around for at least 24 hours and made me feel pretty ropey.

        A Long Slide on a Gravel Road

        Yesterday evening drove along past the bottom cable car station to where the road is closed due to a rock fall. This is the first time I have been all the way along this road (as far as I know). I expected to be able to run on trail immediately, but there was still about 2 km of tar past the boom before I got onto the trail. Nice running though, with gentle undulations. Strong wind blowing down from the mountain made it a bit hard going at times. Once on the trail I was a lot more happy because these trail shoes are hell on tar. The trail is pretty rough: it is a very coarse gravel road. More boulders than gravel in some places. It descends for about 1 km before winding back and forth up to the blockhouse. Was passed by quite a few guys out on mountain bikes. The view from the blockhouse was great and I stopped to sip on my fermented juice for a bit before heading back down. Got into my stride and was really enjoying myself. Must have been completely dissociated at one stage because I lost concentration and was not paying enough attention to my footing because I tripped and carved a nice body furrow into that gravel road. Luckily my hands and knees broke my fall. ;-) Somehow ended up on my back, with the result that I was covered in dirt front and back. So I looked like I had been engaged in some epic adventure and I am pretty sure that everyone I passed on the way back thought I was quite a hero (bloodied shirt, dust covered backpack, grimace of pain) or just bloody mad.

        The bath at Troy and Fiona's afterwards was exceptionally sweet. As was the bottle of stout and the enormous dinner of pizza and pasta.

        09 February 2010

        Noordhoek Beach Run

        Relieved to find that my knee was pretty much okay when I woke up this morning. In fact it seems to be on the mend. Don't want to talk too soon though.

        After my lecture I shot into town (well, as much as one can "shoot" in Cape Town traffic) to buy a Leatherman C33X from Mammoth Outdoor. I already have a Leatherman multitool, but it weighs a tonne. Far to heavy to lug through the desert. This is light and compact and does the job.

        Drove across to Noorhoek beach for my run this evening. Did 8 km, alternating between the firm sand and the loose stuff and finally a bit up in the dunes. Was a gorgeous evening to be out. Fantastic sunset. Backpack is now up at around 5 kg and it is feeling fine. I am almost unaware of it. Shoulder strap on right hand side is still misbehaving, but I will get the lengths right. One of the tins in the bottom managed to shift its way around yesterday and started rubbing. I now have a gaping wound on the top of my coccyx. Not sure which tin it was, but I am blaming the marmalade.


        Oh, and Claire's custom gaiters worked perfectly. Just a little bit of sand in my shoes and I think that this was very fine particles which actually got in through the material uppers. Thanks, Stinkerbelle, they do the job and they look shit-hot too.

        Got some nice silhouettes of the wreck of the Kakapo down the far end of the beach.



        And, finally, some interesting patterns in the sand. See how they are not just long ridges, but join and rejoin with each other. And the wind did that... all by itself. Nature is amazing.

        08 February 2010

        The Pipe Trail

        This evening went out running with Troy on the Pipe Trail, which goes along the west side of Table Mountain, starting just off Kloof Nek. Lovely run, just as the Sun was going down. The trail is very rocky in patches and required a lot of concentration. Good for my ankles but the right knee is quite achy now. Not sure that this was such a clever move. I will know for certain in the morning whether this will be a run to regret. What I will not be regretting, however, is the chance to take a beautiful picture of Lion's Head and the Sun setting over the Atlantic.


        By the time we got back to the head of the trail, the Sun was going down.

        07 February 2010

        Step 1: Getting to Cape Town

        Sunday afternoon. Cape Town. Arrived some time after midday, stopped at the shops for some provisions, found my way onto campus, got my room key, dumped my stuff. Sat down. Plugged in my laptop... and found that I was not yet registered on the campus network. So no internet. Not the end of the world, but I was planning on doing some work this afternoon. So much for filling in the required forms beforehand so that everything would just work when I arrived. Humph!

        Anyway, it has been a pretty productive weekend. After doing a couple of errands yesterday morning I went along to the Pick 'n Pay Hypermarket and met with Pushie Pillay. She had kindly agreed to sponsor me some of the provisions for the race. I walked away with an obscene number of sachets of tuna, a couple of boxes of soya mince and two packets of dried pears. If I manage to eat even half of all that tuna I am pretty sure that my DNA will be morphing into something with fins.

        Claire was working at school all morning, but when she came home I roped her into finishing off my customised gaiters. These look awesome and I can't wait to try them out on a trail around Table Mountain. Then we divided up all the food into rations for the five days and labelled the bags. The nominal food mass for the complete race is 4 kg. I have just a little bit over that, maybe 230 grams over the limit. Don't know how strict they are going to be about that threshold. Hopefully I can take all of that, otherwise I will have to seriously think about what I can discard. By the time this was all sorted and my bags were packed it was late afternoon, just enough time for a quick nap before I took myself out for an evening trot. I was keeping my backpack dry for the flight, so I ran without it. Wow, it makes a huge difference running without a pack. The uphills felt as light as air... Well, as light as they could considering that somewhere along the line I have done something to my right knee. It is not very sore. And it does not really affect me when I am running, but when I am sitting or lying around there is a dull ache. Mostly behind the knee, but also on the sides around the front. I think that the latter is some sort of referred pain because when I rub around the knee I can feel the sore spot and it is in the middle behind my kneecap, where one of the calf muscles joins onto the back of the knee.

        Back to the present though, I am on a quest for coffee bags. I am pretty sure that a few years ago you could get bags of decent coffee (analogous to tea bags). These would be perfect for the run. But there does not seem to be any such thing available any more. There are two dodgy products, one of which is 25% coffee and the other is 65% coffee... and the balance of the contents is just useless crap. Still hoping to find something in a speciality coffee shop. Also battling to find ice packs in Rondebosch. None of the shops have any. Not even freezer bricks. So I bought a big sachet of washing up liquid. The shape is right and hopefully it will retain the chill without freezing.

        I should be working on my lectures now. Mine is the first of the year, so I get to set the tone. Not feeling very motivated right now, so I am fiddling with a few other things. I reckon after a shower and another cup of tea I will be ready to put my mind to it.