Friday, 27 June 2014

A good week

I have had an absolutely blazing week.

OK, so I haven't been able to run (still resting knee after really bad whack this past Saturday) so I've turned my energies to a bunch of projects that I've needed to get on to for more weeks than I care to mention.

It's always easy to deal with tasks that can be done relatively quickly. Those that I know will take hours and hours - and ideally uninterrupted hours... I put them off.

With an open week, I made good use of blocks of unbroken hours to made some headway.

On Monday afternoon I did some 'cleansing'. The problem I have with organising events is the packing away. I'll pack some stuff away and then I 'dump' other bits. On the floor. Any available space. Crates, maps, droppers, boards, flags... Between this and that I put them away. It can take a few days to get clarity again. On Monday I wrapped up the results from Metrogaine, sent them out and cleared away the bundle of clue sheets and other stuff lying around.

Cleansing is contagious so with that done I got into some cupboards... and other crates... and piles of paper.

A big project on Tuesday was to set up a Facebook page for our AR Gaiters. We receive lovely emails and sometimes photos from people around the World who are using our AR Gaiters, especially the AR Desert Gaiters. But the AR Gaiter page on isn't really the best place to store the photos and stories. Facebook, on the other hand, is a fabulous platform.

So, I set up the page, updated the content on AR for the AR Mini, Desert and Adventure Gaiters and had everything up on Wednesday morning.

That afternoon (and finished it at night) I wrote up a media release for K-Way on trail runner Lucky Miya. He's in France to run in the Skyrunning World Champs on Sunday. I met Lucky earlier this year when he came through to some of our AR Club Summer Series events at Delta. He also took part in the April Metrogaine with orienteer Michael Crone, who is currently in Italy for the World Orienteering Champs. They won the Metrogaine and I really hope that they both have superb runs in their respective international events.

Having had such fun with the AR Gaiter Facebook page, I decided to create a Facebook page for my Metrogaine events. Again, Facebook has its merits and it is a great platform to share event info, photos and runner routes. It's content that is Likeable, Shareable and social.

And then on Thursday I jumped into website modifications on the FEAT website. I wanted to tweak images, backgrounds, colours and some structural elements. It isn't rocket science but it just takes time. Inevitably when you change one colour you need to change a dozen others to make it all look nice - like when you buy a new duvet cover and end up repainting your room and putting up new curtains.

There's one piece of code that I just haven't been able to find. I've been through almost every .php page and every .css page to look for it. I spent two hours yesterday chasing this one issue... I bet it is in the two or three .php pages that I haven't searched!

There are a few other tweaks that I want to make... but it is fine for now.

I've done well to get these big chunks done between regular smaller tasks.

I like new. I like change. It has been a satisfying week.

Monday, 23 June 2014

38 Days of Running: Almost there...

I've had a bit of a whirlwind week. Although I started my annual running game 38 days before my 38th birthday, it went a bit like this... 13 days of running [one week of Expedition Africa] and then the rest of the days. My current count - as of yesterday - was Day 32. Today I broke the consecutive-day chain by missing an run (or walk) following an impact injury incurred yesterday.

Part of a Da Vinci drawing -
a lovely knee.
Yesterday afternoon I headed out with a running friend to Suikerbosrand. I haven't been there for ages - it is such an awesome location.

It must have been about six kilometres in that I bashed my knee on a rock. Quite silly really because I was working through a rocky section - chatting away - and I was maybe turned a bit to my right (talking over my shoulder) when I stepped down a rock and bent my knee right into a big rock on the side. I whacked the inside edge of my right patella (knee cap) - a seriously hard knock. I couldn't move for a moment and then it felt ok and I ran the rest of the way feeling nothing more than the effects of the impact on the bone.

The drive home takes little over 30 mins and by the time I got home I could barely bend my knee it was so sore - and a bit swollen too. I couldn't bend it to walk up or down stairs either.

I started on hot and cold therapies and an Arnica oil rub and two anti-inflams. If these don't work then I know the problem is a bigger deal than a regular bash. I didn't expect anything serious as I hadn't slipped, fallen nor twisted - just a good 'ol bashing.

I'm delighted to say that I awoke with no pain and could do stairs with relatively little discomfort. After spending the day on my feet it is a bit inflammed now but nothing that hot, cold and Arnica shouldn't solve. It may take a few days to recover fully.

After such a hard bash I'm reluctant to mess with my knee so I may need a few days before I complete the final five days.

This year's '38 Days of Running' has been a bit disjointed but satisfying overall.

Monday, 16 June 2014

Gauteng O Champs: Long fun

Today's long course events at the Gauteng Orienteering Champs ended up as a 'training run' after six controls were stolen. As some of them really were not visible from the trails, I can only figure that some malicious individual was watching Cindy putting out the controls and then went behind her and stole them. So, some idiot has six orienteering control flags and six EMIT (electronic timing) blocks. EMIT is, of course, totally useless to them. They look like orange, plastic blocks. The flags... well, they do make nice lampshades; if orange-and-white is your interior-decor scheme.

The individual did leave behind the metal droppers, which had the control number tags still attached. We found the droppers - but there were no flags to be seen.

I'm quite delighted to announce that I made a few mess-ups today. I'm delighted for various reasons...

I've had very smooth orienteering runs for ages. Few problems, very minor errors and clean runs. I haven't been stretched navigationally. And the best way to be stretched is when you make a mess and need to problem solve to get out of it. I do get a very special kind of satisfaction from this.

Of course it is nice to have smooth runs, especially when you're running for time and points and results. But as our courses would be voided, making the mess-ups here, today, was just plain good fun.

I'll let you in on the sneaky-sneaky controls where I had the most fun.

CP4 to CP5
This wasn't exactly a mess-up. Take a look and I'll explain what happened.

Orange 'x' marks about where the control was located. I'm not exactly sure where.
Coming from CP4, I headed into the bushes and was aiming to, cross the path, continue into the trees and hit the next path, near the bend, run down the path and then head into the clearing. But, not far from from the first path crossing I walked on to a CP. I didn't expect it to be mine.

Where I did make an error was in looking at my control descriptions and I saw the number for the next control (105 I think it was). This control was 150. So I felt quite happy that I was correct and that this wasn't my control because it wasn't where I expected it to be. So, I continued with my plan, hit the path, ran along it and headed back into the bushes where I thought the correct clearing was. But there was no control. Mmm... So then I wondered whether I'd made an error with the control number. I re-checked my control descriptions, realised my error and then had to try to find the control again. Fortunately I didn't have to look around too much. I found it, punched and was a bit puzzled but I continued.

Apparently the control was not in the right place - so that confirms my unease. It really had just been chance that I'd walked on to it. If I'd taken a more direct line to the control location I would have missed it.

CP13 to CP14

Pink shows what I did. Green shows what I should have done.
11, 12 and 13 were missing controls. I was here with another orienteer so we verified the problem and just touched the metal stakes in lieu of punching in at the control.

Now in the mood to play, I had a plan in mind for CP13 to 14.. I had my eye on the fence (southern boundary of the map) and hoped to be able to follow the fence and hook around from the South to the CP. I hoped that even though the vegetation was shown as green with undergrowth (the darker green stripes) that it wouldn't be too bad. It was worse! Really, really not a great route. Slow going, lots of blackjacks and pushing through vegetation. I actually couldn't get near the fence, which is why my route curves away from it.

Once I got out I could see where I wanted to go - I even saw mountain bikers on the trail. You see that brown embankment to the West of the control... I'm a bit confused but I think there was more happening with the trails than meet the eye. I shot up the embankment expecting to see the control. Nothing. And then I realised I must have gone up not where I thought I was. I'd crossed a path to get up the embankment... but the picture didn't fit. I ran around a bit to take a look and saw the big 'square quarry'. Aaaahhh... I retraced my steps, crossed the path, headed into the bushes and found the control. Mmm...

And now for the big puzzle of the day!

CP20 to CP21

Pink shows what I did; green shows what I should have done... yellow circle shows where I popped out from the gnarly stuff.
The map looks a lot more obvious scanned and blown up. It's a lot harder to read this small detail when you're running and in reality the total length of the distance on the map between 20 and 21 is 2.2cm.

There are other paths in the area other than the ones indicated here. The main paths are mapped but there are minor tracks too. To put them on the map would really have turned this section into a more of a mess.

So, leaving 20 I was on track and I saw the big mess of boulders ahead. I found an unmarked track and used this to run around the boulders. But then, I wasn't exactly sure where the path had dumped me but I was fairly ok with the direction I needed to go.

The terrain here was a mess! Loads of knolls - probably created from dumped building rubble and long grass and rocks... It was horrible going. But, I popped out on a trail eventually and was looking down an embankment. OK, so where was I on the map? There were lots of trails around. I was also trying to get my position from the cultivated lands (yellow with black dots) I could see.

Looking at this big image now, it seems quite obvious - but it wasn't when I was standing there. I ran to my right hoping to see just a bit more. I could see the river, I checked my map orientation and then knew almost exactly where I was. I've checked my GPS track and it verifies this.

Once I had my fix, I ran back along the path. I made another little bloops because I then spotted a control next to a path (which is where this one was indicated on my control descriptions). I didn't expect my control to be there but then I didn't 100% trust that I was correct about where I was. I did check the control and saw it wasn't mine - so I returned to where I was and made my way - about 30m on - to my control.

And from there I was fine again.

But this was a nasty that took me a total of 10:27 from CP20 to CP21. Should have taken less than half of this.

Nonetheless, I was pretty chuffed with this puzzle. I haven't been foxed like this for a while. I was quite satisfying to fix the problem.

There were a few other places where I skirted around vegetation - but probably should have gone straight through. No big time losses but not great lines.

My total distance was 9.7km.

The Polokwane students and adults seemed to do pretty well today - again a good number of clean courses despite the missing controls.

One of the adults (I think he's the taxi driver - very, very keen and enthusiastic)... I'd pulled him off the sprint on Saturday afternoon and yesterday he messed up on the middle course at the 3rd control and had then given up. Yesterday afternoon we spent some time chatting through his course and I created 'stories' for him - examples of what he should be thinking of when looking at the map. The controls on his course were mostly all right on paths.

Like... "Follow the road for about 50 metres. Look for a path on the right. Go straight. There will be another path that crossed from the left and right. Keep straight. The next path will come in on the left. Take this one. Go up this path and at the first junction you'll see the control."

"So, it's not that bad, is it?" I'd announced.

"Mmm..." he'd responded.

I'd suggested that he focus maybe on finding the first six controls for today's event and that if those went well then he could choose to continue... but to really try to find at least the first six.

After finishing today he found me and was looking totally chuffed. He'd completed the whole course with few problems and no incorrect controls. Yippeee!

If he is, as I presume, the taxi driver, I do hope the school and club will keep him and get him involved with their orienteering activities. I have a feeling that he is the father of a child at the school? And he's based from the settlement just near Mary and Mpachue Secondary school. He's great to keep on board to bring this group to other events and to participate too. After today's successful run he is far more confident and he leaves this three day event knowing that he can do it and eager for more. Just lovely.

My thanks to the organising clubs and helpers and mappers and planners and controllers for these three fabulous days of orienteering. I thoroughly enjoyed the courses.

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Gauteng O Champs: Middle

Today's Middle Distance event was thoroughly enjoyable. As-the-crow-flies distance was 4.8km. I ran 5.5km. The map for today's event (and tomorrow's) was drawn by my club mates, Cindy and Cobus van Zyl. They did well. It's a good area with a mix of vegetation and generally very good runnability. Even some of the light green areas (slow, vegetated terrain) was actually not as bad underfoot as it looks at first glance.

I had a great navigation outing - running onto the controls and not looking around at all. There was only one control that I definitely could have taken a better option. Here it is below - my route from CP16 to CP17 (CP 16 not shown).

The route that I too is marked in purple. I started on the track and was aiming to make route decisions based on what the vegetation looked like. Very pleasant - so I left the track and cut straight across.

The mistake I made was to take the road. The 'story' I had going in my mind was to leave the road where the vegetation on my right changed to open ground. And I did just this. But the light green in this area... blackjacks! Not as nice as earlier light green. I headed into the green a few metres down from the control (didn't see it from there) and popped out on the road. So I ran up the rad and back into the bush - got it.

What I should have done...

Was to run from where I'd popped out on the first big road (thick black line) and then kept going through the shorter distance of green to get onto the trail.

Although I had a pleasant run, I didn't fare very well in the rankings... I think I ended up about 9th.

My problem is definitely that I'm coming back to the finish warmed up and ready for another 10km! I'm having a good navigation experience but for the rest I'm probably enjoying the terrain and breezy running and trip-trapping through the forests and grass just a bit too much. Clearly I'm not running nearly hard enough!

Cindy tells me that tomorrow's Long distance event, which is marked as 8km as-the-crow-flies will be one that I'll enjoy. I'm certain to run more than 8km, which will be great. We're at the same venue but using a much larger area of land.

As for the Polokwane bunch...

Overall MUCH BETTER results today! By the time I left there were still a few runners out. Maybe five or six still to return. Only one disqualification (by an adult) and not one disqualification from the teens! Clean courses by all of them. We had a winner on the Open Short course and dominated in the Open Medium. Ephraim fared ok on the M21 course and both Tebatso and Lesedi rocked the M20 course.

Yesterday Tseke had only done half the course, giving up after being unable to find a control. He promised me yesterday that he wouldn't give up today and that he would really try. A beautiful, clean course for him today with only one control where he lost a bit of time. I'm really pleased with all of them.

Now that they've had a taste of this terrain, they should be even better equipped to deal with tomorrow's courses.

Saturday, 14 June 2014

Gauteng O Champs: Sprint

Today was the first of three days of the annual Gauteng Orienteering Champs. We got started with a super fun sprint event at the Woodlands Office Park in Jo'burg. The nice thing about this year's events is that they're all quick and easy to get to (tomorrow and Monday we're at the Big Red Barn property in Irene/Olifantsfontein).

I had a decent run today - smooth with few errors. There were two less desirable options that I took, which lost me enough time to drop me at least three places. One and two seconds ahead of me were two runners; and just less than a minute ahead was another runner. I landed in a not-fabulous-but-very-comfortable 7th place (of interest, the first two runners were tied - exactly the same final time!).

So let's look at those errors...

CP3 to CP4

Ja, you can see what happened here. I  ran into the parking lot and with vegetation ahead (not allowed to cross) I had to run around. A better option would have been to run south-east from 3 (towards the water features) and through to CP4 from there.

CP7 to CP8

From CP7, seeing CP8 to be 'ahead' I ran down the water feature and saw a fence with a gate (green circle). Here's the thing... The gate was open. BUT, as a solid black line is indicated on the map, this is not a gate you're allowed to use. I hadn't noticed the line at first. So, I had to turn around to run around.

When I got to the finish I told them about the open gate, which wasn't meant to be open. Roger, one of the organisers, went through to close the gate and said he had to stop a number of orienteers from going through it (other certainly had gone through). The gate had been opened by gardeners working in this part of the property.

So... that was my Day 1. Distance as-the-crow-flies was 2.8km. I ran 3.7km.

It's middle distance tomorrow. Distance as-the-crow-flies is 5km. Way more up my alley. And, I'm most looking forward to Monday's Long Distance event: 8km as-the-crow-flies.

Of interest... The men's course tomorrow is 5.5km. That's cool - similar to the women's course. But on Monday the long distance men's course is 12km (women's is 8km). I'd like to run the 12km course. But, if I want to compete on the same course with other women, I have to run the women's course.  Grrrr... It will be interesting to see on Monday what our actual course distances are.

Aaahhh.... Our Polokwane bunch are here too!

If you recall my posts from the Big 5 O over New Year... Of the bunch that were with me then, we've got the teacher-from-heaven Mary, who has brought 20 students (junior and senior) plus three other teachers and a parent from the school's parent's body. And then there's the wonderful Ephraim, who set up the Polokwane Orienteering Club and has been hosting events and recruiting members from his college. We've got Tseke (Mary's son) as well as Tebatso and Lesedi with us again. We're missing student-teacher Juliet and bubble Diketso.

Then we've got a few of Ephraim's college club members to complete the group - and their bus driver is also participating.

There were some good and not so good runs today from the group. I'm a bit concerned that the newer people will have a bit of a rough time tomorrow - as they found today challenging. With a good debrief after tomorrow's course and Monday's event being held at the same venue, they should (maybe) fare better on Monday.

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Oh, oh, oh, take a tumble

I'm generally fairly fleet footed and it isn't often that I trip or stumble and I don't often fall - usually reserved for forest orienteering events.

Sure, I do occasionally catch a toe or foot and end up lurching forward, but it isn't a common occurrence.

Tonight I clipped a toe on uneven paving and about a kilometre later I landed on the ground after clipping something else. I think that this is maybe my first or second road tumble ever - in more than 20 years!

I was on an uneven sidewalk (dirt and rough uneven paving in places), going around a corner and moving aside for an approaching pedestrian. And next minute I was skidding across the dirt surface and my running buddy, Rob, was helping me up. It happened in a flash.

When it comes to forest running, I'm well used to expecting to trip and stumble and sometimes fall. There's just no getting around running on pine needles, stepping on a hidden branch that flicks up another branch over which you're guaranteed to trip. I don't always fall - lurching is more common, but occasionally I end up with a soft landing on a bed of pine needles, which is usually A-ok.

But this time I wasn't expecting to trip - or fall - so it was a bit of a surprise more than anything else.

I've got a grazed left knee and a grazed right palm. I may have a bruise on my left hip tomorrow from landing on it. But otherwise no other aches, pains or injuries. Phew!

Hopefully that's my tumbling done for the next two decades!

Boxing: Round 2

Following my one-on-one boxing session with Vuyo on Friday morning, I hit the Undisputed Fitness Gym on Monday and Tuesday evening to try their group 'Boxfit' class. The class mixes up a bit of this and a bit of that with boxing elements to give a superb all-over workout that left me quite worked over.

The Monday night class focused of functional fitness with 30-second boxing combos (punching bag) mixed in with squats, push-ups, jumping jacks and other. After the initial warm up exercises and a short outdoor run, we rotated through 'stations' in smaller groups - boxing ring (sparring with a coach), punching bags and the mat. Sit ups, squats, push-ups, planks were the order of the evening. Phew!

The gym is only 3km from home so it is perfect to run to and from, which is what I did. I was feeling pretty tired on the run home.

Last night I was back for more. Surprisingly I wasn't as stiff in the arms and chest and shoulders as I'd expected - although I could definitely feel the effects of Monday night's session.

The class last night mixed in even more boxing - punch bag and some sparring - with a ton more push ups. Oh yes, I can feel my muscles calling my name today. We also did a bunch of wicked ab drills at the end of the session - it's easier to roll over to get up than it is to sit-up today... I felt better on the run home but this morning I've got a number of stiff spots that are sure to be more pronounced tomorrow.

There's a good mix of men and women, young and old. I chatted to a few of the people last night - a friendly group who encourage each other to work harder.

I went into trying this with the view of just giving it a go. I've got more than enough hobbies and activities and disciplines (many way too neglected) to take on any more.

While I don't intend to become a member here, I really do like this place. What stands out for me is that this is an independent gym and the owner, Byron, is there teaching classes, helping out and chatting to the participants. The gym is clean and neat and tidy and it has a warm and personal feel to it. I've been made to feel very welcome by Byron and the enthusiastic trainers.

Having spent 16 years at Virgin Active (formerly Health & Racquet Club), I can attest to the value of a training facility where the owner is interested and invested in you - much like the yoga studio where I feel very at home. Not all studios have this same warmth and personal feel - it's all about the owners and how they've setup their facility.

Undisputed Fitness Gym (Bedfordview) scores big-time points with me and I look forward to trying a few more classes next week.

Runtastic, funtastic

I don't often run with my mobile phone on me. Very rarely and usually only if there is another runner/s with me.

I heard about the Runtastic app yesterday and what caught my attention is that someone at their computer can login and watch you moving on the map (Nevarest offers similar functionality for sports events).

I loaded the app on my phone last night and will try it this afternoon when I run with my friend. I did login on my computer to watch the tracks of a couple of people - quite amazing.

You can search for people that you know are on Runtastic and if you know they're out running/ biking/ paddling (like in a race), you can follow their movements. It's like following an adventure race online. Hahahaha.

Also, say your partner heads out for a long run, you can keep tabs on them from home to make sure they're ok and to know when they're returning home.

Runtastic uses mobile towers for your location or GPS for greater accuracy.

There are loads of training apps available and I think they can be super fun - especially for online tracking of friends and relations participating in events like the Metrogaine next week Wednesday (18 June) and the rogaining events at the end of July.

So, I'll give it a try tonight to see how it works but I'm not going to change my habits any time soon to be running regularly with my phone (risky) nor posting workouts to social media. Not my thing. There are super motivational functions to these apps, which are cool, but which I don't need. It's really the tracking - and online following potential - that totally appeals to me - and I see this as being great fun to use at races.

Monday, 9 June 2014

Running wild at The Wilds (O)

Yesterday was the final event of the orienteering Urban Series at The Wilds in Houghton. We decided to group a bunch of the short-distance events together to create this series and it seems to have worked quite well to bring in some newcomers.

I think I've only just got my quota (five of the nine) of events to get listed in the rankings... we'll see when the log comes out.

This The Wilds event was a nice local and accessible one - probably about 15mins from home for me. I haven't been to The Wilds for at least two years so, while I know the general layout of the place, I don't know the area very well. The one thing I do remember from my very first run there is how challenging it can be to read the paths on the map. Many little paths that are difficult to read while running.

The navigation was very straight forward with nothing tricky. In some places there was an option or two but generally quite obvious. The one place where I did pause to consider options was from Control 18 to 19. The only reason I chose to take the path was because I didn't want to risk getting any more blackjacks (grass seeds) in my tights. Hahaha. I heard afterwards that this was a good option; the route was clear initially but then there were blackjacks on the approach to the control.

This weekend coming we've got the Gauteng Orienteering Champs - three-days of orienteering. On Saturday afternoon is the sprint event at the Woodlands Office Park. This is going to be purely fast running and quick thinking on easy running terrain.

What I'm really looking forward to are the Middle (Sun) and Long (Monday) courses - especially the Long. The nav should be quite technical and challenging - just want I'm craving. Being in the Centurion area the terrain should be typical grassy and rocky highveld.

I should have some nice 'don't-do-what-I-did' routes to show you afterwards. hahaha

Friday, 6 June 2014

First boxing class

I've never pictured myself getting into a boxing ring. Yet, this morning, there I was jabbing, hooking, uppercutting and ducking at the Undisputed Fitness Gym in Bedfordview.

While I was at Expedition Africa my mom's friend passed a training voucher that she received on to my mom. She's not into boxing nor the other activities offered by the gym like kettle bells, muay thai and kickboxing. So she passed it on to me - I'm game for pretty much anything. I set a date and time with Byron and this morning rocked up for my first boxing session.

Vuyo, a former pro boxer, was my coach for the morning and the biggest challenge I found was to think quickly on my feet in response to his "left jab, right hook, left uppercut".

We started off going through the three punches and focusing on stance. Balance and keeping your weight centred is all important. Then we beat up a boxing bag before getting into the ring.

And then we added in some foot work - moving forwards and backwards, left and right. And then I'd have to "jab-jab, hook, duck" as Vuyo swung a 'punch' my direction. It's a good thing he was calling "duck".

After some time in the ring we did a bunch of squats and sit-ups and crunches. I'm going to feel the after effects tomorrow - maybe not in my legs but definitely in my shoulders.

This 30-minute session was immensely fun and also tiring. Despite today's cooler temperatures, I was dripping with sweat after 15 minutes!

The gym offers group classes as well as one-on-one sessions. The voucher I received includes another one-on-one and two weeks of group classes, which are Mon to Thurs. It's a good period to gauge gains.

I'm planning to hit the boxing gym again on Monday for a group class. Here they have a number of instructors and, like doing a circuit, you move between activities - punching bags, the ring, fitness and strength drills, kettlebells - all in one class. I'm allowed to bring some friends along with me - let me know if you're keen to give this a try.

The gym is about 3km from me so I can run there, do the class and run crawl home. Perfect.

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

How do I find out about...?

Last night I went to a lovely talk at ESSA (Explorers Club). They have guest presenters at their club evenings on the first Tuesday of every month. I don't go every month, but every time I do I thoroughly enjoy it and I always meet new and interesting people.

Two women came through for the first time and they were sitting behind me. We got chatting.

A common problem that they - and many others I meet - have, is that they don't know where / how to find out about events and activities. They want to try things, but don't know where to start.

My advice is always, "Just rock up". This, for me, is the biggest thing. To get people away from their normal - whether the couch or the same road race that they run every year... that's the challenge. A lot of people know about a lot of events - but they just don't rock up.

If you don't know the words 'adventure racing', 'orienteering', 'trail running', 'obstacle races' to search on Google, you're stumped. But it does help to just rock up at any event and from there you meet people and find out about more.

I've just been writing an emailer for my school orienteering bunch. We send them a free voucher for the next orienteering event and info on other events coming up. If we get two participants (of the +500 on our list) to an event, we're excited. And these are school children (and parents) who have participated in four weeks of Orienteering Schools League events in Feb/March. *sigh*

As I was writing the emailer, I thought I'd copy the relevant bits here. Then you know about some events too.

All you need to do is to rock up.

Run Wild at The Wilds (Houghton, JHB)
Sun, 8 June 2014
The event on Sunday morning will be held at 'The Wilds' in Houghton. Here's the event sheet The Wilds - Sun, 8 June 2014. It really helps us to know how many people are coming so that we can print enough maps. You can let us know by registering online. You can just rock up on the morning of the event too.

Gauteng Orienteering Champs
14-16 June 2014
Now this is good fun. Enter all three events or just one. This year there is a sprint event in the Woodlands Office Park (Woodmead; Saturday afternoon)); the middle (Sunday) and long (Monday) courses are at a venue in Midrand - all nice and close and convenient. Monday, 16 June is a public holiday. Although this event is called 'Championship' you don't have to be a champion orienteer. While the regular club orienteers are running for points and rankings in their age groups, there are non-championship courses every day for those who just want to have fun. The event sheet, with dates, times and details is here.

Metrogaine Jo'burg (Northcliff)
Wed, 18 June 2014
This event is my baby. And, where the Metrogaine in April celebrated 13 years of, this event - always held on or near the winter solstice - falls on my 'not-13' birthday.
This is a massively fun week-night event where you get to run around, in the dark, headlamps and torches blazing, as you look for answers to clues at each control. You've only got one hour or 90-minutes (two course options). Participate in pairs and walk, jog, run as you wish. Just remember, don't be late! Hot chocolate and a cupcake afterwards. PRE-ENTRY ONLY

And then there are a bunch of other great orienteering events in July.
There's a weekend in the Sabie (Mpumalanga) area on 6 and 7 July (middle and long distance events) and then my favourite-of-favourite orienteering-variation events, the annual rogaining weekend.

Annual Foot and MTB Rogaine (Lydenburg, Mpumalanga)
26-27 July 2014
Oh golly goodness. I just hear the word 'rogaine' and I get super excited. This is a two day event. Day 1 is the foot rogaine. Pick 4hr or 8hr time limit. Day 2 is the MTB rogaine. Pick 3hr or 5hr option (running also permitted if you don't have a bike).
You participate in pairs (I'm doing this event with my friend Zig as a women's pair).
In short... you're given a map with lots of control points marked on it. Find as many as you can in the limited time. Ba-ba-ba-boom. Pre-entry. More info here...

And then, on the orienteering side of things, we pick up with our regular bush / cross-country (more rugged) orienteering events. In the first half of the year we've had shorter, 'tame', urban events. Now we're getting towards my favourites. The 2014 orienteering event calendar is here. Don't be deceived by the distances. 5km in orienteering is not the same as 5km on road (just as 10km in the canyon at Expedition Africa took teams 7hr to 14hrs - and more).

Bush orienteering events - course descriptions

  • Yellow- This course is for younger children (suited to U12). Control flags are often visible from one control to the next and they're all on paths. 1.5km to 2.5km 
  • Orange - OSL courses fall into this category for the most part. Basic navigational skills come into play and the distance is around 2.5km to 3.5km 
  • Light Green - This is where the fun starts. I'd recommend giving this course a try if you're feeling fairly confident. You'll have more route choice and some controls that will make you think. Distance of 2.5km to 3.5km. 
  • Green - Only once you've made it through a Light Green course should you move up to Green. This course is more technically difficult. It's a short and challenging course at 3.5km to 5km. 
  • Blue - A great option once you're more competent and prepared to run further. It's more technically and physically demanding than Green and ranges from 5km to 7.5km. 
  • Brown - This is for experienced orienteers only as it is both difficult and demanding at 7.5km to 10km. Adventure racers, don't think this is for you if you have no orienteering experience. I've gone looking for people who thought this 5hrs after they started out...

Look out for these events coming up:
  • Sun, 3 August - Mohale's East (Magaliesberg / Hekpoort area)
  • Sat, 23 August - Kloofendal Nature Reserve (Kloofendal / Little Falls area)
  • Sun, 24 August - Laurentia South (Krugersdorp area)
I'm not much into mass participation trail events nor short trail runs nor neon runs nor the popular obstacle events. They're out there too.

Monday, 2 June 2014

38 Days of Running - back on track

As expected, I was completely thrown off track with Expedition Africa and while I was on my feet and walking a lot, it's not running. And with my mind so immersed in the race and rocking on two to four hours sleep a night...  I'll extend to an additional week after my birthday.

I got home last night and so today I ran to the huskies to take them for a run. They were delighted to see me and we had a good outing even though the weather is still a bit warm for them. When the cold fronts start coming through they're going to run longer and harder, which will be fun.

A selfie with Toscana

The grass at our local park has been cut beautifully - this started before I left - and it looks amazing.

Husky love.

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Expedition Africa - abundant adventures and friends

Back from Expedition Africa tonight. As much as the racers need time to digest their experiences, so do I.

Our media team is close knit and, like the teams racing, we spend 24hrs a day together - awake for many of these 24 hours too! We drive around, hike, navigate, spend hours waiting and then even more hours writing and editing and publishing. It's a very intensive time.

Team hunting - my favourite pasttime. We've got maps and spend time planning where to catch teams. And then we go out to hunt for them. Online tracking is awesome too - and when we can't get signal we use friends and family at home and race HQ to tell us where they are. Photo by Bruce Viaene.
And then we part ways. And my heart is very sad. Even after an hour or too away from them I feel a bit lost because a companion from the week is not at my side or sitting next to me working on their computers.

I return from a week of hard work, long hours and little sleep - just the way I like it.

But, more treasured are the renewed friendships, new friendships and most wonderful memories of adventures.

Day 1. After a splash in the river, I sat with Bruce Viaene and Steven Freitag watching teams descending the abseil. Photo by Bruce Viaene.
My posts from the race are all up on I've had a blast writing about the race.

Steven Freitag has been shooting footage for short videos during the race. The one he showed at the post-race dinner was superb and I look forward to watching the full version. Here's Steven's YouTube channel so you can watch the vids already posted (Days 1, 2 and 3) and those to be uploaded.

Definitely check out the photos from the event by Bruce Viaene and Andreas Strand. These guys are the bomb - awesome images in the albums on the KineticGear Facebook page.

I spent much of my week hanging out with Bruce and also Martin Westerstrand, the photographer for teams Cinnober (team member Ida Svensson has a blog - some of Martin's photos are there) and Outnorth Adventure. Their photographs show some of the places that I visited with them.

That's it done. A most wonderful week. I'm blue. The better the time away and the adventures had, the worse the post-race blues. I'm VERY blue.

As the best way to beat post-race blues is to start planning other adventures, after a good night's sleep, that's exactly what I'll do.