Craziness atop a Mountain

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This is one of my all time favorite photo’s with one of my all time favorite friends.  Taken at the Magalies Crazy Store 37km trail run.  I have the best people around me and this was such a special moment. The better half Eddie had his camera and took a quick pic before we decended down the slopes of a rather big hill.  My favorite type of people are the type of people that do crazy things like this for fun!

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Project Skeletor

Recently I have been keeping myself busy and entertained with Project Skeletor. I have received so many questions about what this means that I will now proceed with a short explanation.

I am happiest when I’m aiming and working towards something and recently, in a typical moment of madness, I entered for the Otter Trail event. (YouTube clip, WATCH! It’s Awesome) This involves doing the entire hiking trail consisting of 42 brutally tough kilometres in one go with a time limit of 11 hours. When the opportunity presented itself and being a total sucker for punishment I only thought about doing this for about half a day before confirming the entry and really hurting my savings doing so.  So this is where Project Skeletor kicked in.  I realised that if I did not whip my considerable ass into shape I would actually have to use the compulsory whistle and space blanket when the trail running gods reduced me to a teary heap lying next to the Bloukrans River.

So Project Skeletor is actually just a fun way of describing a really annoying and depressing thing.   A Diet that involves going to bed every night with a grumbly stomach in the pursuit of fitness and a strange sense of sanity.  I won’t go into too many details of what this diet involves as my beer, wine and tuna consumption has raised a few eyebrows.  I have to just admit that it’s a lot more successful than the futile cupcake diet of 2011.  So watch this space for a follow up story that will hopefully involve me not chasing cut offs at the otter or rolling down a flight of never ending steps.

Following the pack gets you LOST

Another Sunday, another adventure.  I learnt a very valuable lesson at the first race of the Sunto Quest Trail series held at Rosemary Hill this past Sunday.  Yet another stunning event hosted by WildTrail I looked forward to something a bit easier and flatter than climbing up the Magaliesberg… After having decided on doing my first marathon in November, I started training on a proper program for the first time in years.  I opted for the long route and was surprised when I felt very good in the first two kilometres in stead of the usual feeling that I have a small child clinging to each leg…  My plan was to start slow and wait for my diesel engine to kick in and then hopefully overtake a few girls in the second half of the race.  All was going according to plan and I had the group of girls I planned to overtake in my scope at around the five kilo mark.  The problem came when the eighteen kilometre route split from the short route.  There were little red ribbons pointing the way all over the show but my eyes were glued to the trail in order not to trip over my own feet and land with my face in the dirt.  This preoccupation with the ground caused a bit of confusion and when at last I looked up I was all by myself.  I was sure I had found the right trail but soon got even more worried when there was still nobody around me.  A guy came from behind and said that he thought we were on the wrong trail, it was then I saw people running somewhere to the right next to a fence.  It was at this moment that a lesson my mother tried teaching me around twenty years ago would have come in handy. It involved something with about not jumping into the fire when all your friends do… Like a fool I followed the obviously lost pack and ended up running a full extra kilometre through what felt like the thorniest scratchiest longest grass in the whole world.  I was already so gatvol having gone wrong once I was in no mood to backtrack again.  All of a sudden I was stuck behind people that had a few kilometres before been light years behind me… I was so frustrated with this situation that when I got stuck behind a stubborn old lady wearing a camel back I behaved in very un-Altie like behaviour.  I was politely asking the lady to move over but for some reason she didn’t want to.  After asking her loudly another four times I ‘tapped’ her on the shoulder but being a lot bigger than her and having a bit of momentum I think to other runners it looked more like I shoved her out of the way… So after getting lost and shoving an old lady out of my way I stumbled over the finishing line bearing down on the USN table like a dehydrated buffalo.  I drank about ten cups of water and headed to my car.  I have never been somebody to follow the pack and following the pack on Sunday got me lost so no more pack behaviour from me any time soon!  Despite going the wrong way it was yet again a true trail running experience! Can’t wait for the next one!

For more info on this event and more like them go to www.wildtrail.co.za

PS: I seriously considered photo shopping the photo of me running through the ruins by making myself look thinner and less tired but that’s cheating… I am always sad when whilst running I feel like Zola but look like the Michelin man’s wife in reality… O well where there is room for improvement there is a source of motivation!

CRAZY Trailblazing!

The Crazy Store Magalies Mountain Challenge that was held on the weekend of 20 August was undoubtedly one of the most amazing events I have ever done! Thank you to everybody that made this such a special event and I can’t wait for next year! I have to however warn anybody wanting to brave the long distance that it is not for the feint footed…

Over the years I have embarked on many, what some people may call crazy, difficult and painful adventures including the All Africa Games, Tour d Eden and Kremetart tour to name a few.  I have cried, bled and literally broken myself in the quest for the ultimate endurance high, but in ten years I have never suffered as much as I did between the hours of 09h00 and 14h00 on Saturday 20 August 2011.

It became glaringly clear to me that the name ‘Crazy Store Magalies Mountain Challenge’ was not only because of the title sponsor being the Crazy store but also because you had to be stark raving mad to actually complete this race and not roll up in the foetal position afterwards crying for your mommy.  If it weren’t for the crowd at the finish I would have probably done this.

Until the day of the race I had never embarked on a running adventure of more than twenty six kilometres and I didn’t think the distance of thirty five kilometres would pose a problem.  Well, it did.

We were very privileged to run where not many people get the opportunity to go, On top of the Magalies mountain range, the problem though was getting there…  After being dropped of by bus at the foot of the mountain our race started at 09h00.  The short 6 kilometre climb took me a full hour as the slopes were so steep a miss step would send you rolling down the hill with only tree stumps and rocks to literally break your fall. The endangered vultures circling at the top of the cliffs were not only amazing it was also a sure sign of things to come.  After two hours I was still running along the plateau on top and feeling like Rocky, I did however resist punching the air and doing a little dance as the TV helicopter came past in the fear of falling and embarrassing myself…  I reached the halfway point and had to make my way down the mountain which seems like a welcome rest.  Well it wasn’t.  I tried hard to follow some good advice from Famous Shamous on how to negotiate the steep downhill but at that stage I was so tired I realised if I trip and fall I would probably just lie there and wait to be rescued sucking on the remnants of my camel back.  My camel back was the next problem, it was empty.  Thirst was driving me to the edge of sanity and only the knowledge of the water point ten kilometres from the finish kept me going.  I was however not going very fast…  Having taken too many energy gels and not drinking enough water did something very strange with my blood sugar and I started feeling extremely sick.  The endlessly twisting road also didn’t really help, as soon as you thought you have reached the flatter open part of the course, it takes yet another painful turn up another torturous rise just to test your resolve.  It was here where I started with my stop start survival technique.  I would literally run around three hundred meters, stop, put my hands on my knees, bend over, try to not throw up, count to five and carry on.

Arriving at the one and only water point, ten kilometres from the finish the volunteers manning the table gave me a look that said “Shame…”  One friendly lady even got up from her chair so I could sit a bit.  Drinking a few glasses of water I think what ever was in my stomach got a bit diluted and I could again carry on.  I was however so tempted to stop that when I was told to go to the medic because I didn’t look so good.  I knew that one word of pity from the medic would send me to the ground refusing to run one step further.  I resisted the temptation and carried on.  The stop start business was the only answer to the pain and nausea pulling me down and after being very worried about getting lost I heard the music coming from the finish line.  I gathered myself before entering the finishing straight and rested about two full minutes so I could at least run to the finish without tripping and hitting the track face first.  I made it just under five hours and got overtaken by about a million people in the last ten kilometres but just finishing was amazing.

I have never been able to understand how people can say they’re just happy to finish. Well I can now state that I totally understand, as the alternative of being airlifted off a mountain while vultures are pecking at your blistered feet does not sound better to me!

It is today five days after the race and I am still so stiff that I can hardly walk and I can’t wait to do it all over again, And that is how you know you’re a crazed Endurance Athlete!