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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.


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.
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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!
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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.

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    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.

    06 February 2010

    Custom Gaiters

    With Claire's help put together my own set of mini gaiters using Lisa de Speville's recipe. Although her "average pattern size" obviously does not apply for size 11 shoes. Sigh. Some experimentation required. In the end the trapezoid had depth 16cm, and parallel sides of 58 cm and 28 cm.

    04 February 2010

    Shopping and Sponsorship

    Yesterday afternoon skived off a bit and did some of the shopping. Got myself a decent compass and signal mirror. Then went to the SportsZone to buy a pair of LineBreak compression tights and two new pairs of trail socks. Went out a little later in the afternoon to try out the tights. No miracles, but they do feel pretty good. Joined Claire and the folks for sushi and a couple of bottles of wine. More wine than I have drunk in a while so...

    ... when I woke up this morning to go running I was not feeling too well. It was a test of character just to get out of bed. And the throbbing in my head every time my foot hit the ground was horrendous. It only lasted for the first 4 km or so, but it was a gruelling few km's.

    Got to work to find an email from Pushie Pillay at the Pick 'n Pay Hypermarket in my inbox: they are going to sponsor some of my provisions for the race. Great!

    03 February 2010

    Slacking off again...

    Woke up during the night feeling a little dodgy. No, it had nothing to do with red wine: I have been very abstemious. Perhaps I was just lying on my back for too long, but my chest felt tight and my throat was scratchy. So I decided to give the run this morning a miss. Will have to go out this afternoon though, because I am feeling ratty already. Also have to go and do a LOT of shopping on the way home because I do not have too much more time to assemble the requisites.

    02 February 2010

    Run to Grotto Beach

    Gorgeous morning in Hermanus. Ran across the village from the HMO to Grotto Beach. There was a sea mist in the village when I started and the smell of the ocean was strong in the cool air. Had considered going for a beach run instead, but when I got across there I realised I had made the right decision because the tide was really high and it would have been a nightmare running along the top of the beach.

    01 February 2010

    Wandering Fever

    Now I am totally inspired. Check out Wandering Feaver and you will be too.

    Rest Day

    Decided to take it easy today. Woke up with a bit of a scratchy throat and phlegm. Thought I might have over done it just a little yesterday. Then on the plane down to Cape Town I was surrounded by people who were coughing and sneezing. You cannot imagine the claustrophobia, picturing myself enveloped in a cloud of other people's germs! This evening though I think I am okay. Keeping the inner hypochondriac under control for the moment.

    More Race Details

    Learned a few more parameters of the race:

    1. there are matresses at the overnight camps, but NO pillows;
    2. there will be coffee, tea and water at the checkpoints but no warm beverages at the overnight camps (need to take my own source of caffeine to kick-start the digestive system);
    3. generator and car converter at the camps, hooked up to an extension cable and multiplug for cell phone chargers... but I would just rather be without.

    Weekend's Running

    Quite a big weekend for running. Saturday started off with the run from the Hypermarket to uShaka and back. I had arranged to meet Brad at Broadway and trot down to the start at the Hypermarket. But I was a little late, so I missed him. When i came within view of the start I could see the bunch slowly disappearing over the horizon, so I spent the next 20 minutes playing catchup. The beachfront run has improved a lot since before Christmas, but it is still a nightmare of building sand and detours. Stopped for a Coke on the way back and then sloped off just before Natal Command to attack the hill up onto the Berea. Springfield was just too daunting, so I detoured along Florida, but you can't avoid the hill forever, and it got me in the end. Got to Claire's place pretty buggered.

    After a bit of a lie around and some awesome banana crumpets headed out to try and sort out some shopping for the race. Managed to get hold of the requisites for the home made gaiters, but just missed the glass shop by minutes, so I still don't have the required signal mirror. Rounded the day off with spinach and feta cannelloni and a glass of red wine.

    Brad was undecided about his running activity for Sunday, but I had already decided to do the Regents 32 km route. Took us from Durban North over onto the Berea, up through Burman Bush and onto the Ridge, then all the way along the top of the Berea to the University before heading home. There was a really big bunch and most of them went all the way. Lots of stops for drinks along the way. Also got to explain why I am running with a pack on no less than ten times. It is getting a little embarrassing. Okay, a very embarrassing, because every time that I explain to somebody new I can feel the folk around me who have heard the story before going "Oh God, here he goes again...".

    Brian Goodbrand donated a tube of Bottom Butter, which is said to be the ultimate solution to all chaffing problems.