Tuesday, September 9, 2014

1000 Days

I've always run in the week resting on a Friday then race on the Saturday and a long run on the Sunday.  I've followed a very typical style of program. Yes I've mixed things up and the mountains have called me most weekends and public holidays.

So after a couple of public holidays fell on a Friday I ended up with a 3 week running streak and then it was January...

2012 I decided to make a running year and see if I could run every day! The summer was easy as getting up at 5 to fit in a couple of runs when needed (like every Friday) was no challenge as the morning sun was out... roll on the Cape winter and those 5 am runs in the dark cold and hail ment rolling out of a warm wife filled bed to brave the elements. She thought I was mad... (ok I am! She's not often wrong)

2012, 2013, and now 2014 Sept and still going... last Thursday was day 1000! Now while I think this is amazing in the big picture it isn't. ..

Englishmen Ron Hill started his streak in Dec 1964 and will reach 50 years at the end of this year! Not that I could log a 1 mile 'run' he once did with the aid of a crutch taking 27 minutes!!!

Enough of that I need to pack as I'm flying to Croatia this afternoon!

Thursday, August 28, 2014


Everyone needs a holiday... And while some of my work colleges and friends will take a couple of weeks off and sit at home doing nothing, that's not me! Others will take a couple of weeks off and hit some DIY project, that's not me... Then there are the poor folk with children, they take leave in school holidays to look after there kids, that's not me...

This is one of the reasons my wife and I get on so well, when it comes to holiday time we like to "take a holiday"! Now with a little money saved and my wife having a birthday this year. (You guys must know by now that ladies don't have birthdays every year and that is way they always look so young!)

So how does all this happen:
  • We decide it's time for a holiday, 2014 will be the year... (don't have money for yearly holidays, feel free to sponsor my next holiday if you have some free cash!)
  • Where do we go, France would be nice, from Dawn's English years she still has a couple of friends on the Mud Island with holiday places over the Channel... OK that's not working :(
  • What about Switzerland? I have a best friend from school now staying there... Kids, work (new job) means more date planning to tie in with them. An idea but what else... (Next time even if I have to go alone!)
  • Then some-one said: What about Croatia, I hear it's nice...
  • With month ends and dog sitters to think about mid Septemberare the dates we are looking at...
  • With Dawn not only being my wife but our travel coordinator she starts to look for flights and places to see...
Now from the moment she said: How does Croatia sound, I popped onto Google and asked him a very important question: Marathon Croatia? Answer, Ston-Wall Marathon  21 September 2014... Prefect date, and only 55km from a must see, Dubrovnik! What the ball now rolling I again went to talk to Mr Google again and this is what he told me:

Coach Dion, there is a 41km trail race in the Učka National park the week before that marathon in Ston, and you are already going to be in the country... How about turning this holiday into a little road trip...

Road Trip it is:

  • Land at the Capital Zagreb and drive to the coast.
  • Run the trail race, all 41km and 2350m climb!!!

Picture from last years race

Where the Race Starts and the mountain I will be running up...
  •  Head down the coast popping inland to see another National park!
Plitvice Lakes
  •  Back to the coast and down to Dubrovnik.

  •  55km up the coast to run the Ston Wall Marathon!
Looks more like a trail race...
  •  Before we fly out of Dubrovnik!
Time to pack my bags...

Monday, August 25, 2014


I grew up in Newlands at the foot of the mountain and as far back as '83 you could find me running in the forest. My first run to the top of the mountain was in '88... Now-a-days you can find me up there most weekends! So when I first heard of the Ultra Trail Cape Town my ears pricked up... sounds like fun!  

Cape Town and surrounds are blessed with a couple of the countries best and oldest trail races, and with this in mind the organisers of the UTCT thought they would capture the world market with a 100km. I hope they do, it would be great to have the best of the best taking on Table Mountain.

What utra trail runner wouldn't want to run / race on my iconic Mountain!!!  
Come run
A lot of my friends have asked if I'm running... First answer is: No are you mad 100km is a long way! But now a couple of months later I'm starting to sing a new tune... the 100km is still madness and I have mad friends who will be on the start line..  But I can get my head around the 62km. That's just a long mountain marathon,  a really long marathon!!!

So were does that leave me? I will be on the mountain that day, but will I be wearing a race number or a camera? 

I can't make the call just yet 62km is still a long way and I didn't know if my body is up for it.  
I'm also away for a couple of weeks in September (that's another story on it's own.)
Special place...
I had a little look at the route 'they' have put together and you will get to run on some of the best trails the mountain has to offer, but without making us run round is circles you are going to have to join me for a run to experience the others...
If I'm on the start-line I hope to see you there, if I don't make the start-line, I hope you do... I'll be on thee mountain with my camera...

Friday, August 15, 2014

100 000 km

I've always run...

 From the age of 3 or something I was saying: Mommy, Mommy time me, I'm running around the house!!! and off I would go - out the kitchen door and through the gate onto the street, up the road and over the little picket fence. Round the back of the house jumping over flower beds and cats (trail runner in the making). Leaving dirty hand marks on the walls as I turned the corners. Under the loquat tree and back to the kitchen! I'm Back, I'm Back what time did I do? Again, again, I'm going round twice...

At Junior School I did athletics, rugby and cross country... But it wasn't till High School, standard 8, that my then coach (and Science teacher) Norman Davies said I should keep a log book!!!

Oh Dear...

My first logged run; Jan 2 1986 and already running to UCT
28 years later...
No they aren't all there, some are lying around at home and not with these... It's fun looking back at the types of sessions you did years ago! While some have changed, some haven't: There is one in that book from 1986 (note I was at school, std 8) and it reads: 15 x 400m 68-75.6sec at UCT!!! it could have been 2 weeks ago when we did the very same session!!!

My biggest week ever? Well that would be the week of 15-20 Oct 2007 and The Cape Odyssey a 5 day trail race of 211km. Now I don't really look at that as a weeks training, so then it would have to been 18-24 Dec 1995 and a week of 166km. I know there are big mile runners out there, but really... looking at that week, and other weeks I've had up at 160+ I can't see how running more would fit into your training with going over the top...

1995 was my biggest year at 5163.6km I was trying for those extra 36.4km to take me to 5200km but... the body wasn't up to it!!! Did all the miles that year work? Well yes, but it was only when I was running less in 1996 did the results come and I ran PB's over every distance 10km - 42.2km!

What next? I hope to put in another 100 000km before I have to hung up my shoes!

Thursday, August 14, 2014


The other day a friend (who is also injured) asked how I could keep running even with an injury, so this is my answer:

  • It really depends on what injury you have...
  • PAIN learn to know what pain is injury related...
  • Warm up your injury before you start..
OK so with those things in mind legs have a look at a couple of injuries that I've had and how I've managed them: I've had ITB and a couple of my athletes have had ITB, and yes you could pop off to the physio for treatment and rehab, but why stop running? You don't have to, but Coach my knee gets sore after 5km and I can hardly walk!!! So only go out for a 4km run then... and run twice a day if you need more running, I once ran an 8km race with my leg straight (maybe not a good idea) but it was sore if I bent the knee!)

Now onto this injury I currently have: Adductor Tendonosis!

Please note I have spoken to the Sports Doctor, the Physio, and the Bio, so I do have the green light to do this, but I was doing this before I saw any of them just don't tell anyone!

Firstly warm-up the injury, and not by running, and not by stretching, stretching is really just pulling the injury and how can that help... So get the blood flowing, maybe you could walk a bit or rub the injury, I use this before most of my runs:
good stuff

and then I also an running in compression tights to help the blood flow!

Now with a lot of injuries it's a muscles or tendon (some with some bones / stress fractures) so you can normally feel if you are doing more damage. OK I can run without pain... so I run without pain, the problem is I have to run slowly and I don't like running slowly. I like to be on a track running reps, or intervals on the road. You see, too run fast you need to lengthen your stride, and that stretches (puts strain on) the tendon. So I only run slowly, I've been running hills on the road, I can run slowly and hills are slow and good for you!

The other thing I can't really do is long single track and technical downs. Both require core and stabilising and as things stand I don't have much of that!!! so I tire and the tendons start to fall apart again.

Would you believe it if I told you I have hardly been on my mountian in 3 months!!! (we won't count the couple of races I had to run!!!)

Good Luck in managing your injuries as it looks like mine is slowly coming right!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

HBTC 2014

So it was Hout Bay this weekend and I found myself on the start line... Now I know I should really have spent the morning in bed, but... 

Was a little injury and a cold... going to do to stop me!!! (being unfit and fat was the least of my problems)


That said I wasn't racing and as we started I found myself setting off with one of the ladies!!! 

A rose among the thorns
Leg 1: I would have loved to run the whole race with her,  but after the first short-cut, once we were back on the road, I pulled away up the mountain. After about 1.5km you leave the roads and hit the trails.  Last year I was setting the pace this year I just sat behind a group of guys watching my HR I didn't want it to go over 160 on that first leg.  (It did, but when I saw it I slowed.) 

The climb up isn't a clearly marked trail with lots of little paths leading to nowhere so one can lose time if you take a wrong turn. We didn't take the best route but walking the steep bits were good for me. At the top we do a little out and back loop to check point 1 and it was good to see the leaders fighting it out, I was in about 15th place.

On the way down I kepted having to step aside the let the guys pass me. Candyce was the only lady to catch me and she was in a relay team so my ego wasn't taking to much of a beating! I was very slow climbing down the mountain, but better safe than sorry, as I heard later that one guy wasn't safe and did his ankle in and had to call it a day! I closed up to Candyce again as we climbed the 2nd bump of leg 1... We finish leg 1 in 87 min her team shot off while I had to wash mud, from the bushes, out of my eyes. I had run the last km with one eye close.

Kane, the race winner climbing up Llandudno corner!
Leg 2 started with the loop round Suikerbossie before the climb up Llandudno corner. I have a split I time up there and while I was walking  most of the up I was walking faster than the guys ahead of me... I must have past 7-10 people on that climb!!! One of them was Derrick, my friend and competition for the 40+ guys! Taking my time at the top I noted that I had made good time!

With the climb behind us it's along the 12 Apostle (back table) to the turning at the dams. I just set an easy pace and slowly closed in on another couple of guys. Nic was having problems and that moved me into 1st 40+ what a bonus!!!

I could talk about the weather but it wasn't that bad it was holding. Yes the paths were wet but nothing like last year, and the rain was holding off. I caught Damian and went past... he then caught me on a little down hill. Oh to be young and injury free! We yo-yoed with me pulling ahead on the ups and Damian catching me on the downs. 

When we hit the dams and ran the service road together till the single track to Nursery, I tried to drop him on the climb, but it wasn't all climb!!! I could only watch as he danced down the rocks while I clambered over them like an old man (wait I am an old man!) Another guy past me and I watched as they hit the service road down and off the mountain. I took a 70 sec time split as they turned taking the short cut on the single track. I stayed on the road and pulled back 5 sec instead of loosing time! 
1h59:23 for leg 2. Dawn was at the Nek to meet me. With 3h27 of running done I had one leg to go.

Leg 3: I've never run this leg well and with only 4 weeks of run easy under the belt Vlakenberg was going to bite. Even with my long stop to chat to Dawn I caught Damian on the first climb. Not wanting to let him back into our little contest I pushed on, but running (if you can call what we were doing running) the short flat didn't work!  My left ADDUCTOR cramped a bit! Lucky it was only a bit and I could walk it out. I would have to be careful!

The single track kicked up again and I was power walking with the best of them over the top. 


oh dear this wasn't good for me and with the adductors still thinking about cramp I wasn't going to be a hero! 

Now only the climb up the Constantiaberg and the manganese mines lay ahead. It wasn't going to be easy as the Cape of Storms was now living up to her name as the heavens opened and the rain joined the wind I had been fighting for the last 4 hours! 

As much as I love running on the mountain it was getting a bit much and Damian past me leaving me to eat chocolates and soldier on alone.

It felt like the turn of Mother Earth was against me and I was running on a giant treadmill getting nowhere! Finally the climb down started and with the fort on Chappies now in sight leg 3 was mine for the beating!  It was nice to saw Dawn in the car cheering me on as I clipped the last check point and headed for the beach. 

stopping to say Hi the Dawn, who was in the car out of the rain!

Not a day for swimming!
5h00:00 I was finished in more ways than one 38.4km with 2000m climb had been hard work for this sick, injured, fat,  old man... but I had come home in 10th place claiming the first 40+ prise!!!

out of the rain!
 The run was good and my injury is still under control!!! a rest / easy week lies ahead of me, I've earned it!

Monday, July 14, 2014

BASTILLE DAY the short story

My injury is still a long way from healed but Franchhoek and the celebration of Bastille Day was calling... A long time ago I had entered the 35km race, but there was no way my body was going to hold out that long, so I downgraded to the 25km race, a run I had done the year before.

Napoleon and his French Maids put on a great race!
On the start-line I looked around and didn't see any of the big names, I was the only big name and I am injured with almost no training over the last 7 weeks... The race was open to the 'pretenders' and the new kids on the block.

No gun, no siren, just a: You can go now!"

I let the guys go, but as I warmed up and start running at a pace I know I could handle I joined then at the front, then on the first climb I passed them. 3 guys stay with me as we headed up the worst gravel road you have ever seen... OK some of it was single track and the rest was eroded! The real climb starts at about 3.5 with the last 200m up through the gum trees climbing 100m (yes that's 50% ave gradient).

We dropped Christo and set off on an amazing single track along the contour to the saddle. I was really enjoying the run there is something about just running within yourself and not pushing it into the red line...

At about 7.1km we reached the saddle and the guys passed me on a very slippery gravel road as we headed down into the valley they were about 10m ahead as we turned of the 'road' onto a freshly cut path. the 'path' was about 2-3m wide and I found myself on the left side looking for better footing as I can't stretch out on tracks like that... Maybe 250m down I followed the path to the right and then I started to notice that I couldn't see the other guys! and wait, there were no foot prints in the sand, I was wrong or were they?

I was me!!! I had head there was a little change to the route but I thought it was further alone... I'm guessing that they had gone down the right hand side of that new path and see a board telling them to turn. I had missed it and was out of the race. Dam, I was running well and enjoying being out there without the pressure of racing. I slowed down and ran on, I didn't really feel like turning round and running back up 500m or was it 1km!!! Then I saw Christo... he hadn't seen the arrow / marking and had caught a glimpse of me so he followed. I still hopped I was on the right track, but at the next turn (marked for the 15km race) I know I was wrong. But we were on last years route, so if we just stuck with it we would rejoin the race!

12.8km into the my race we rejoined the route, ok maybe it was a little before then, but that is where I stopped to chat to a marshal. We were in the lead!!! and had clearly not only run a different route, but a shorter route!

From here the race follows the Berg River as it heads to the dam. It's not the fastest section of trail as we cross the river 4 or 5 times...

Melted snow from last week
it wasn't all the deep...

My team-mate was winning the ladies!
Mean while at the next crossing was a gorilla jumping in and out of the bushes!!!

Great fun...
Dawn had come out for the day and had taken her only little run round the mountain to watch the race... She was on the other side of the river on gravel road, so I stopped again and told her what had happened before heading off. Oh I also stopped for Hot Chocolate!!!

Christo didn't stop but walked on up the 'road' I caught up and we ran on together round the dam. Then he got tired leaving me to run on... there's one last single track down to the dam and a last river crossing before the last 1.5km to the finish.

The water of the Berg

I was first over the line in 2h07:13 (with 5min chatting time and no racing) about 3 min ahead of the winner, but then I had run 2km short, I was disqualified...

Could I have won? Yes...
Would I have won? I can't say, but 3rd was up for grabs and I really wish I had been there to answer those questions. That said I had a really nice run out there and don't really mind the body had held up and I think I can get over this injury and back in the game.