Friday, August 11, 2017

HBTC 2017

This weekend's HBTC told me a couple of things... the first was: After this rest week I had better put the last 4 weeks of training to proper use... (more about that sometime)

Life at the front of the field and life at the back are very different... and when I say to the back of the field runners that I'm not racing THEY DON'T BELIEVE ME!

I wasn't racing HBTC on Saturday... but that said it doesn't mean I wasn't looking to climb on the podium!
We set out from Hout Bay Harbour and I found myself next to Kane (who would go on to break the record). Ok I'm not afraid of flat tar... but this was short lived as when we left the harbour it was time to climb! A sandy track between the roads and as we hit this Kane kept running and I started to walk (power walk) for you who don't know the route, this is the start of the first climb... saying: don't race Dion don't race...
Kane pulled ahead, and while someone went with him that was short lived... Mike then past us and powered up the hill chasing Kane, but it looked like he was happy catching the other guy.

Kevin (an old man like me) and another kid I didn't know just followed me up the mountain with Lucas and Wesley a bit back.

Kane was heading down about 1-2min ahead of us after tagging the first peak. And it didn't take long for us to make the turn as well...

That first bit of down went well and while the kid who was running with us old men danced over the rocks past us he didn't disappear as before we drop down to the beach we had a little bump to climb over. Over easy, but down the other side was a different story... a slow story but while Lucas and Wesley flew by Kevin didn't drop me till later!
I was now alone as I hit the beach and started to climb again. Without good climbing legs I was surprised to catch a couple of guys as we reach the top and headed down to the end of leg 1.


I didn't rush through the changeover, and as I left I had lost one place to a team runner and I heard the first lady coming to chick in... with LLandudno corner ahead I set off on Leg 2

I've climbed faster, but that said I was catching the guys ahead... slowly. At first I thought I was making no headway and kept telling myself not to race (it was far to early to put the hammer down).

With the climb out the way it didn't take long to catch one of the guys who had flown down leg 1. I was running nicely along the top, and while I wasn't breaking any records I wasn't killing myself and felt good for what lay ahead.

Unlike the road where the km tick by, it's Landmarks you looks for and one at a time you tick them off.

Not having run a lot of trail in the last year my pace on the rocky / bushy single tracks aren't what they were in years gone by and I was been caught from behind... Meg was flying and I guess she's spent the hours on the mountain trails and it was paying off. (she wouldn't break the Ladies record, but the route was longer and harder this year!) Lucky I'm older now and don't feel i need to race the young ladies, so I settled back into my running, and it was paying off... before the downhill to end leg 2 I had past Lucas, Wesley and Mike... I was 3rd man (still 2nd old man, Kevin was flying).
Leg 2 2h02:19. While I've run faster, I'll take it, I was younger then...

Leg 3 has a very unfriendly start up Vlakenberg and it was getting hot and the leg now knew they had been out for 3h30. I could see someone ahead, so I set about power walking up the mountain...
I was pleased the legs were still doing what I asked of them and once other the top I set about trying to catch Kevin! That wasn't going to happen I didn't have any downhill dance in my legs, not on those rocks. I could now see a team runner and I was catching... then trouble was I wasn't going fast enough to keep for another team catching me... Last climb and a look back told me that Lucas had come back from the dark place I had seen him on the earlier leg. I had to pull finger! I didn't have any fingers left to pull as I headed to the manganese mines. I could run slow, but this part of the race needed something faster and he had it! I didn't even try go with him. I did catch that team and while a couple of other teams also past me I held onto my 4th place and 2nd old man.
Leg 3 1h42:12. slow... I should have been 10-20 min faster, I've got a bit of work to do, and mostly that will be just running on the trails so my easy pace become a little faster.

Total 5h17:31 for the 39.8km with 2500m climb
Old Man Contego can still mix it with the young boys!

Thanks to FB I was able to fine a couple of pictures to tell my story.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Bastille 35km

Since I'd had a couple of good weeks of training under the belt I thought it was time to tackle some real trails!

Last weekend I headed up to Maclears Beacon from the Nek and since that went well I found myself entering The Bastille Day trail festival! I wasn't stupid or anything  (am I ever?) I didn't enter the 50km just the 35km.. I did want to test myself and I knew I was good for the 25km  (15km just not worth it) so it was time to up the anti...

I wasn't going to race, just run steady and see if I could be in the mix.

With a 07h00 start it was dark, very dark! The cloud cover and light rain didn't make the start any easier. With my (punting my shoes) Salming trails shoes and an 'Extreme Lights' head lamp I found myself in the lead... 
those aren't stars, those are rain drops

This was not the plan... but I went with it!

Edson, William, and Dylan went with me and we pulled ahead. I promise I wasn't really pushing  (to hard). Edson  was the first to go ahead and then William past after a steep climb. We stayed in touch for a couple of km, but being in the dark I let a little gap grow and kept telling myself to run my own race. Dylan had lost some ground and I ran the contour to the saddle alone. 

I've done the 25km a number of times and at this point they head down to the river while we follow the 50km route along another not so flat contour rapping round the mountain. While I was running on my own I was catching and passing the slower 50km guys who had started 30min before us. This path isn't smooth and easy to run on... and I don't dance over the rocks like 20 km ago! 
Dylan caught me as the path eased so I kept him behind and we pushed on.

At the bottom we had a couple of river crossings, it's good the see the rivers flowing, but we need more! The 50km turned off our route at this time to climb a peak! (I hear it wasn't friendly up there, and by morning it was covered in snow!) Unknown to us James had been dancing down the technical single tracks and was right with us as we wadded through another deep river. The scramble up the other gave me a couple of meters and as the legs warmed up I started to run...

I want to say we were on an old gravel road, but not even a Hilux would manage this road! That said the running was easy and I dropped James and Dylan was only just holding on. I love this sort of fast trail weaving along the single tracks. With the mountain to the left and the Dam to the right we headed to the Dam wall... OK it was more of a desert to the right! Will have to come back and run this again when the dam is full, must be amazing.

The dam wall is fenced, so we run a full km past before crossing the river (flowing from the dam) 30km down. Dylan and I were still together, but since I had been gunning it into the wind for the last hour I had nothing left... 3 hours was plenty running for me today and with 5km still to go I lost my 3rd place. James was next to catch me and the tired legs didn't want to race any more. Maybe the cold had taken more out of me than I had put in, but maybes weren't getting me to the finish line, so I had to push on... slowly. I lost 10min to Dylan in those 5km and dropped down to 9th place (2nd 40+).

I hope to be back next year to race around the dam again.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017


Running is not something that we save for a special day, in fact it’s quite the opposite, every day we run is a special day!

Now what makes it even more special?

Maybe a race that one loves (some people love every race)
Maybe a friend is joining you, (or you are getting to run alone)
Maybe you have a great route planned
Maybe you have new shoes…

I have #nononsense trail running shoes,
I have a new pair of SALMING ELEMENTS
Ready for the trail
I got them from a little shop in Cavendish Street MOOVE CLAREMONT.

The day I got them I had already run 25km that morning, so the first run would have to wait! OK I walked out of the shop in them, and then ended up walking around Cavendish in them. (Yes my lovely wife was with me!)

Now this is a serious trail shoe, just look at those studs… The walk around was good for me (no not the shopping) it’s a good first test for a pair of new shoes.
     They were great and my feet felt great, no sinking feeling from a too soft sole, no stud pressure, and with that wide toe box no squeezing of the toes.

Roll on Sunday… It wasn’t on the program, but sometimes you let the shoe guide you. From my house it’s about 1km to the Green belts, and as I walked out the door I found myself drawn to the grassy/sandy pavements. The grip on the road wasn’t like an F1 car burning rubber, but like a 4x4 trying to rip up the tar… In the Green Belt I was chewing up the trail. To overtake people I would take a wide berth looking for rougher trail.
Ripping up the trail
I took them into Newlands Forest for a little run with the club, but while it was getting dark the guys turned back, but I needed more, so I headed to Rhodes Mem! Up the steep gravel road on along the contour to Plum-pudding hill. It was dark, yes I had my headlamp with me but it was not needed as I headed down, every step was true, it didn’t really matter where I put my foot!
Time to tackle the dark
 This is a NO NONSENSE trail shoe:

I’ve taken them up Skeleton Gorge and down Nursery Ravine
No slipping back down
 I’ve run round Constantiaberg climbing over Vlakenberg and running The Manganese Mines. (known for shredding up unworthy shoes)
Then, I’ve raced in those new shoes… and I want more!

The one thing that stands out from the race is that at the end of the race, the 2 distances joined for the last 500m on a very steep, very bad gravel road. I was still chasing hard so I was passing a lot of the guys (and girls) from the shorter race. I was taking the shortest route around the turns while they, were looking for the easiest route down, not wanting to slip! I took the inside line, the tight line, while a young lady was taking a wider line, she was slipping (not falling, or I would have stopped to help, but waving her arms around and letting out sounds I don’t really have a clue how to spell!)
VWS race, last couple of meters
Bring on the trails I want to see how these hold up to many more mile…
Bring on the winter storms (not only because we here in Cape Town need the water) but I hear these are made for water!

Now for you guys (and girl) who want to know a little more about what SALMING stands for I had a little look on their web page, and they talk about things I understand, Their Rule of 5™

And this is taken from their sight:
The Rule of 5™ is basically what steers us in the shoe design process. It’s firmly based on our running gospel, the Salming Running Wheel™, which has the Pelvis as the hub and center and then five spokes: posture, lean, arms, cadence, and foot landing. From that, the Rule of 5™ derives the five cornerstones – light, flexible, flat, proprioception (thin) and anatomical fit (comfortable):
Light as in light-weight and improving running efficiency; enabling you to have time to complete the run cycle and land with your foot underneath the center of gravity.
Flexible as in imitating the foot flexibility in order to mimic the barefoot running technique – Salming Torsional Guidance System 62%/75°.
Flat as in low heel to toe drop facilitates correct foot landing, becoming more naturally balanced with gravity.
Proprioception as in improved sensory feedback from feet to the brain. If the midsole is too thick the sensory feedback gets distorted.
Anatomical fit as in roomy toe box and basically the foot is able to function exactly as nature intended it to.

Monday, April 3, 2017


Sitting here by the fire as the evening cools down, I have my legs up resting and my glass full of red wine (an unlabelled Shiraz if you must know).
The chicken is doing nicely and I'll be turning it in between writing! 
The Chicken went on the coals later
I've probably run over a thousand races and still get nervous before a big race. Now with over 100 000km logged why would I have a couple of nerves before a little training run?

I wasn't heading to the mountains with the likes of Ryan Sands (ok if I was he would be the one who would be nervous)

I was running alone on the road! 

Dawn was swimming and left for the pool before 6. I had planned on following shortly after,  but got stuck on the toilet... Nerves! 

My Coach (me) had suggested a tempo run... how about 20ks? I thought the Strand Half would fit in nicely, but having lost my mother-in-law in the week Dawn didn't really want me to head out to Strand! 

Plan B: run your own 21km tempo run (21.1km can't forget the point 1)

I finally got out the house, and unlike any other run I started by walking down the road, shaking my legs... then I hit the start button on Ms Garmin and set off down the road. 

It was still dark as I headed down the road and looking at Ms Garmin she told me I was at 4:08/km... not fast enough for what I had hoped. By km 2 I was under 4 and I decided I would push on at tempo pace for now...

5km in 19:30... that was fast enough for me to push on down the Main Road. If it had been slower I would have turned and headed home at an easier pace.  
It was getting lighter so the running was getting easier, easier to see the tar and my foot placing. At 7km I turned off the Main Road and while on the quieter side roads I should have been able to up the tempo, but I couldn't! 

I was ready to blow! I started looking at my watch thinking 10km of tempo would be enough, Coach would be happy. Ms Garmin wasn't counting the km fast enough and the more I look the less she moved... I kept pushing! 

10 and I hit the split button- 19:00 oh my hat where did that 5km split come from? Best I push on... I had bargained with my coach and we had come up with a plan: from now on it was 1km splits and as long as they were under 4 I would have to push on... So on I went! 

I was blown by 13.5 but decided that 15 would be fair. How about just running hard for an hour. That should be do-able. Go on make it 10miles,  a couple of 100m should over the hour should be fine. 

I hit 10miles and was still moving so I pushed for 17... The road was no longer flat so I found myself cruising down and working the ups, I was now using different muscles and as I ran past Peddlars I made the call I was going to 21... point 1.

I now turned down passed the garage to add on the extra 1km and pushed for home. By this stage I couldn't do the maths to know what time I would end with. 
Ms Garmin was still telling me I was knocking off sub 4s... 3:49 3:51.... 100m to go...

Finished... in more ways than one! I wasn't home but the route was good,  I only had 150m to walk,  so walk I did!

81:31 I would like to say my race nerves turned it into a race and deep down I know I had to push through to the end. Maybe I had better find a road race to race!