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!

Saturday, March 25, 2017

The Long Road Back

One's come back is ever fast, and the older you get the more careful you have to be...

Since Surgery back in July 2016 I've been on crutches for six weeks and spend another 6 still in my leg brace... Being good was the only option if I wanted to run again!

Then at the beginning of October the surgeon said: It's time! I almost went for a run from his offices... but sanity prevailed and I waited for the Monday. Day one back was 10min jogging on the track and day two was more of the same. Only thing was my quads felt like I had raced a downhill marathon the day before! It was hard to believe that 10min of easy running on a grass track could do that to me! It took me 2 months to leave the track and hit the road, the trails would have to wait a little longer!

Come Jan I decided that it was time to start training and started joining my athletes for their sessions!  (Ok I was doing half of what they were and I was at the back). At the start of Feb I did my first long run 26km.. I did another two in Feb and then: felt I was ready to race!

Oak Valley XL, 25km of easy trails,  the idea was just to run a little harder than my long runs!

OK it wasn't just a little harder than my long runs I wasn't just running I was racing! 25km later I was in the top 10 and second 40+ I was back. ..

Well as I found out in the week that followed I wasn't as back as I could have been! I knew I had raced that weekend!

Other than that Noel had asked me to partner him in African X (for you who don't know,  that's 90km of trail over 3 days) and we would be racing to podium in the 40+...

3 Weeks later saw me (in my Contego gear, they very kindly offered to pay for my entry after my long layoff) and Noel in his Hammer gear lining up as team mates...
Ready to Rock and Roll
Day 1: was advertised as 35km but ended up with something like 37.5km. Over 10km further than I had run in about 10 months. The distance and the heat of the day took its toll on me and I couldn't push for home with 5km to go... No I didn't roll over and die, I just slowed a bit and we ran home loosing some time to the leading ladies team who had been close to us. Nic and Johnny had taken the 40+ team and on a good day I don't think we could have run them down, but 3rd was still some way behind.
Early Trails in Grabouw while I was still strong
half way
Loved those early trails

Day 2: 30km over a mountain with a long flat finish.  The dynamics of the day were different, but it looked like we were racing the ladies again. Johnny and Nic were just too fast for us and it looked like we had the better the the 3rd placed 40+ team. I hadn't run on the trails on this mountain and it made for some nice running. We were strong together and with ladies to chase kept a good pace. With the last climb done I was waiting for the downhill I had seen on the map...

We had been with the ladies on the top, but there was nothing I could do to stay with them on the way down: it was too steep and rocky for me at the moment so Noel could easy up and plan our chase. Not much planning went into the plan!  It was time to put the Hammer down and chase. ..

Noel was strong and I surprised myself!  While I kept hope Wildekrans (the finish area would appear) I didn't die and we caught and past the ladies! We opened a good lead on them but it didn't last as the 2nd ladies team was pushing hard and that help the ladies close the gap on us.

Another solid 2nd 40+ and we had taken a couple of seconds back on the ladies!
The early Climb (yes those are the leading ladies)

Still running strong on the hills
Chasing the ladies!

Day 3: The organizers decided that the top teams should start an hour after the rest. So at 09:00 we started our chase! It was flat and fast, but Noel had his head screwed on and we didn't set of like a scolded cat. With very few team starting in this wave it was lonely at the back and we started to move up catching up to the ladies teams, who were racing each other... we past them and set about chasing Nic and Johnny. (there were rumors that Nic had a sore hammie! but it wasn't showing)

8km of gravel roads and windy mnt bike single tracks brought us through the start area and while the next 4km were also flatish they took us to the base of the pass... I've always been a good hill climber, but that's because I like running hills! Now since my op back in June I haven't really run any hills and since this was day 3 and I already had 80km of racing in the legs I had nothing left so I wasn't going to hurt my partner! He was the one putting the hurt on me!
The mass start an hour before us

Leading the Mass start after 8km

We were now catching the rest of the field who had started an hour earlier, so there were plenty of guys around who thought I was moving fast... I enjoyed picking them off one by one, It's not every day one gets to see top trail runners float over the rocky single tracks as if it was 'tartan' track. I just wish I was one of them! I was mostly power walking up the mountain talking to all the slower guys I was passing. Noel was ahead and making easy work of the hill. He had to wait for me to catch up, once on the gravel we put the hammer down, while my legs weren't strong I do know how to run, and we soon had a good pace. No walking on that last hill and then a couple of 100m down to the finish...

Nic and Johnny had beaten us into 2nd 40+ team, but there's always next year...
On the podium

Garmin call it:


With that sort of race under the belt, maybe I'm back...

Maybe it's time to up the running and start chasing the likes of Nic and Johnny, bring on the rest of 2017

It's not all about the running on a 3 day event, you need to listen at the evening's race briefing!

Recovery is also a big part, and Houw Hoek Inn has a pool!

Tuesday, July 12, 2016


So where does one start? I've been running for as long as my memory stretches back... 40+ years! And today finds me lying in my bed with my knee in a brace dreaming of those days... I'll be back but the road will be long! This story goes back to 17 April 2016... remember this is my story and I tell as I think it could have gone down. JMC was run on the 17th and while I wasn't running well I was in the running for a top 3 in the 40+year old race when I kicked a rock (not very bright of me) and took a tumble, or should I say whacked my knee hard as I hit the ground. While there was a lot of blood the knee was fine, but I believe I might have tenderised the meniscus, but not torn it.
The knee

Two weeks later I raced HMC and that didn't help it recover. Cartilage doesn't heal fast like muscle or bone... a week later 8 May I raced VWS and did some hard downhill running with a couple of turns and dodging of slow runners in the shorter race. At the end of the race I was sore. .. mostly quads, but that's normal for this race! Now the back of the left knee was sore! Not a sore that worried me and it wasn't there the next day, but over the next days I felt my knee would 'lock' if I kicked my leg up. Not sore or inhibiting to my running.

A monster 3h45 training run with 2000m climb was great training but didn't help the knee, not that I felt any difference to it. The sessions in the week were getting faster... my knee wasn't a problem. Then on an easy run through Kirstenbosch it started to hurt... The session the next day turned into an easy run and a week later I was at the physio!

I saw her again the following week and it was off to the Doctor for a second opinion and then a MRI on the 27th...That afternoon I got the call from the Doc... Dion it's not good!  Like that my running streak ended 1661 days without missing a run!!!

I was wheeled into theatre on Wednesday the 6th...Ok so what did the scan show and what was the plan of the doctor? I had torn the medial meniscus at the back of the left knee. Not a little tear,  but all the way through. This is not good news. Again, this is how I see it: picture the top of the shin bone (tibia). Indented to take the 'ball' at the bottom of the femur. Now you don't want bone on bone so the meniscus is attached to the indent of the tibia to act as shock absorbers... tear that and every step of bend of the knee can cause pain or trouble. If it was a little tear they pop in there and trim the area and in a couple of weeks you are good to go... me not so lucky it was really torn! Like in two!
Mine is the left knee, and torn all the way through!

So the good Doctor went in with a needle and thread and sewed it up...Surgery went well and now it's up to me to be a good boy for the next month or so... but that's not all since the meniscus is made of cartilage it doesn't really heal like muscle or bone it also need a lot of encouragement!  (Stimulating, blood, prayer. ..)

Feet up!

For now it's no running... it's hopping around on crutches, I hope to be in the pool and on the bike in a month or so!
That's all he did!

Wednesday, June 1, 2016


I wasn't up for 50km of hard trails on Table Mountain this year, so I was going to sit The Beast out... But Trevor had put in a shortcut for people like us! No not a soft farm run on gravel roads, not a run that could be run by road runners, but 30km of mostly rocky single track over Table Mountain.

Race Number

The 50km race had started 30min before us and us we set off the race was on to catch them. I shot to the front from the gun (OK there wasn't a gun, it was more like: You can do now!) Knowing the route I wanted to set the pace for the first couple of hundred meters before settling into my pace. I wasn't alone up front, but Kevin was with me...

The first loop was through Newlands Forest, my running home for 35 years, so I just had to set the pace, the legs felt good and the running was easy. (but then the 1st hour of a 3-4 hour race always is...) I like to say I've run every path in the forest a hundred times, but the climb to the contour path, I might have only ever been up once! By now we had started to reel in the back markers of the 50 and on route to Kirstenbosch and our climb to the top up Nursery Ravine I start to test Kevin, but he didn't have and weakness! The race was still in the early days and it was looking like it would come down to who could pick up the pace at the end.

I pushed a little up Nursery and smiled to myself as I opened a little gap (30sec). I thought I was moving OK as I headed for the concrete road, but Kevin caught me on that single track and the dumped me as we headed up the road... I thought to my self: he's gone to early, I don't have legs to run at that pace to the dams.

I conned myself into thinking I would catch him on the climbs to Maclears, but as I reached them I had legs to pass a friend, Jana, doing the 50km, but the gap on her didn't grown and the gap to the lead did... I was getting slower. I reached the top and turned to Maclears. Still feeling sluggish, Jana caught me and with her pushing from behind I was able to up my game and lead her to the highest point of the race.

The path back to Platteklip has the most amazing views from the face of the mountain, then Jana turn to head to Corridor I turned down Platteklip...

Boy was I slow, the clock doesn't lie, it was my slowest time ever! 5min slower than I should have run and 10-12min slower than I use to run! On the way down I lost 2nd place to a youngster who bounced down the rocks with no fear of death!

Running so fast the mountain was blurred (no eyes floating in lactic acid)

My leg didn't have any go left in them, I'm guessing racing 25km 2 weeks before and then a week spending over 3 hours training on the mountain didn't help!

Selfie on the run!

I was passed again before the climb up Devils, and I then passed on the climb to the saddle and wait for it I was caught again while heading to Mowbray Ridge. The 10 min scramble down took 20min but I was almost home...

No floating over the rocks today

4h36 later I crossed the finish-line in 6th place almost 30min behind the leader... I bet I'll be back next year and I hope I'm better prepared.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016


There's a story to every startline, and the excuses are always thrown around to give your competition hope that they are the stronger runner on the day. It was Mother's and our plans with my Mother-in-Law had changed in the week so I picked up a late entry, excuse number 1

We had had my Mother and some family round for a braai the night before, excuse number 2

Then... the weather, not the current weather, which was perfect for race morning, but the electric storm that had past in the night turning my adorable sleeping puppy into a nervous shaking wreck! Excuse number 3
Lord Peanut
While Chatting to Colin (A previous winner of this race) at the start he said he was going out easy as the 2nd half of the race wasn't easy and he wanted to save himself...

I didn't go out easy, I went for it from the gun (ok it was a siren) and was joined at the front by Colin, Pieter, and a guy I didn't know...

The first couple of km are easy running, not flat, because there is no such thing as a contour path on this mountian of ours. I tried to dictate the pace to gauge the others strengths. At 1.2km there is a very steep down hill and I went with the 'stranger' and was happy that he didn't have the free-wheel gear some guys do! Pieter also came with us leaving Colin a couple of meters behind.

Taking Colins words on board I didn't gun the climb that followed, but our pace (Pieter and I) was hard enough to see that the Stranger wasn't going to be there at the end! He did fight to get back to us on a down hill, but at 5.5km when we reached Heart Break Hill! Not not some little undulation like in Boston Marathon, but 105m climb over the next 700m...

Good, I was looking stronger than Pieter and he fell back and wait, was caught by Colin... I reached the top and knew that I had to kick along the top, I would rest on the down, down hill  was where we had first open a gap on Colin...

I got to the tar road (the one that leads to Rhodes Mem) but Colin was right here, and looking back I could now see the other 2 guys as well. Colin wasn't catching as I set a good pace up the hill, but he wasn't falling behind.

OK I was in trouble... I was working as hard as a could and the gap wasn't growning, and if he was running as to his plan, not going out to hard, saving himself for the 2nd half I wouldn't have an answer...
At about 15km we met up with the 10km route, on a hill Strava calls " Unrelenting Pain" also only 700m, but with 125m climb! I broke trying to weave through walking 10km runners and was forced to walk myself (will have to go back and run it) just too many 10km running in the way so I couldn't focus! Looking back didn't help, was Colin walking or on my shoulder? Over the top and push, now with 10km runners to pass to rocky downhill wasn't fun, but Colin would have the same challenges.

Still no sight as we passed the finish line on the upper paths, 6.5km to go, out and back. Next big hill, maybe 500m long with 90m climb, again I walked as I passed 10km runners, but then I looked back and the white shirt of Colin was there... no more walk breaks, it was race on!

3.5km to go at the turn around and I looked at the time, 12sec to Colin (maybe 20sec lead).

one hill to go, no make that 2... dam, I forgot, they've thrown in a 3rd as they want us to finish from the other side...
100m to go
My legs were sore, but with views like that it's alway worth it...

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