Monday, 28 July 2014

Foot rogaine - navigation options

Let's take a look at navigation options from Saturday's foot rogaine.

Here's the map.

I've added in the points allocation for each control.

There are 35 controls.

The eight controls in the North-east corner (circled in red) account for 480 points. That's 36% of the total 1330pts.

If you wanted to win, you had to go there.

I felt that these controls were too heavily weighted - they forced you to go there. Yes, there should be more points for controls that are further away from the start, but as you're already in the area you're going to get all eight anyway. Thus, some of the controls could have been assigned lower scores so that the total for this cluster was not more than 1/3 of the total.

It also closes down the competitive route options because you can't be competitive unless you go there, no matter how efficient your route planning. So many of the points are weighted in one cluster.

I saw this at the start and decided to avoid the area anyway. I did this for various reasons.

  • There's a big cliff line (out of bounds) - marked in pink. Once you're on the North-east side, you're trapped up there and the only access up / down is coming from the ROC logo on the left or the yellow road on the right. 
  • There are no controls on the yellow route side and pink circled area. You have to take the yellow road to / from Control 110.
  • Of interest, Alex Pope and Stef Hurry took over an hour to get from Control 63 to Control 110. And they run faster than me. That's a long period to time with no controls. OK, so they did get the 480 points... (I didn't).
For me the joy of rogaining is in selecting a route that is efficient and flowing. I enjoy locating controls. I know upfront that I'm not going to get them all, so I delight in planning a route that sweeps to gather up as many as possible.

With this in mind I decided to sweep from the South-west in a clockwise direction. On paper it looked like the eastern side would be more friendly and offer more homeward-bound options - many ways to cut distance to get back faster if needed. It was a good choice because the forest here was pretty friendly too and I could cut straight through instead of keeping to roads. Not all of the 'open' (beige) land was traverse-friendly - but it was more so in the East. I did take some straight-line routes.

Although I'm not happy with my point score (810), I'm very happy with the route that I took. I collected everything that I planned to from the start, skipping only three low-score controls (101, 106 and 107 = 40pts) near the start. I came in about 10 minutes early but just didn't have enough time to check off more controls.

I liked the control distribution and placement of this year's course. There were some really nice options. Rogaining navigation is less technical that orienteering navigation and it is ideal training for adventure racing.

This was my first time at Mokobulaan - lovely area. It must be beautiful in summer when it is green. Very, very dry and burned and brown now.

MTB Rogaine
After seeing all the hills on Saturday, I downgraded from the 5hr mtb rogaine on Sunday to the 3hr course. I had a lovely ride, keeping to the western side of the area. The big hills climbs are unavoidable but they actually weren't too terrible - even considering that I haven't ridden my bike in months! I cleared the section that I planned to but didn't have enough time to head off East. So, I came in early having had a really nice outing.

It takes a lot of time and planning and mapping to put these events together. My thanks to Rand Orienteering Club, Ian Bratt and his team of helpers. I spotted Charles, Glen and Sheila, Steve and Denise (catering). Glynnis was there on Saturday to help too.

I had good fun hanging with my travelling and accommodation companions - Wiehan, Lizelle, Alec, Staci, Ian and Chrissie. And always good to see AR and O friends at the event.

Participation numbers were VERY low - and this is such a superb event. I hope to see more of you next year.

Rogaining photos

This weekend I took part - solo - in the foot and mtb rogaines. Rogaining is an orienteering-type navigation event for pairs (my teammie was out with chest infection). The difference to orienteering is that instead of running from control to control in consecutive number order, you get a limited time period to score as many points as you can. The controls are spread all over the event area and each control is assigned a point score.

In this case I had 8hrs on Saturday (on foot) and 3hrs on Sunday (mtb) to play around the Mokobulaan plantation - just outside of Lydenburg.

Here are a bunch of photos from Saturday's foot event. In my next post I'll give you more of a technical look at the navigation options.

Travel companions before the start of Saturday's foot event. Friends, lovely weekend. Thank you. Wiehan, Lizelle and Alec.

Heading for my second control. Lovely topographical feature - clear to see on map and ground. I saw another pair coming in from the left. They had a really steep and gnarly route. I just trotted along a road and then easy along the spur. Navigation. Route choice. Ja.
Control down by the dam. This was my 3rd control. Jumping over the very little stream to get to the control I landed up thigh-deep in mud and water! The side of the stream gave way completely as I landed. It was squelchy all around here.

Hitting another control. Early morning still. Dirty face already.
Foresty control.

A forest control. I got here around 4hrs (halfway) and ate some snacks before a BIG uphill.
Green x shows where the next photo, looking up, was taken. That was a very steep and rocky descent. I'm glad I went down it rather than up!
Rocks, rocks, rocks! I chose well to take this one downhill. Next picture is taken from the bottom looking up. Green circle drawn around the control flag.
I was up there! The control was a bit higher up than where my finger is pointing.
Trying something new. Fresh, crunchy and tasty trail snacks.
This was the view at the top of the big uphill (Control 111, 70pts). Phew! I'd climbed up from lower than the road you can see middle right. Orange arrow shows the start/finish. I still had about three hours left and many more controls to locate before heading for 'home'.
The climb up to Control 111 (70pts, significant tree) was damn steep but the view over the eastern part of the plantation was well worth it. I've marked in the approximate locations of my final nine controls that I fetched on the way home. Blue W indicates a waterpoint (25l container of water - much needed by then). Orange X are the controls. The orange arrows show the location of controls not 'visible' i.e. behind hills. Green H is 'home' - the start/finish. Pink line mostly shows my route. See my next image of the map of this section. The map is orientated in the same direction as this photo.
Map of the area corresponding to the panoramic photo. Red X is about where I was standing to take the photo. Blue W is waterpoint. Controls are marked by the pink circles and labelled with a number. Green H is 'home'. The blue highlighter line... drawn quickly around a braai on Saturday night. That was my route. Scale is 1:35,000. The blue North lines (here they go diagonally from top right to bottom left) are, on the ground, 500m apart - to give you an idea of distance.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Losing your car key outdoors

At orienteering events people have lost (and will continue to lose) car keys and even cell phones. Pockets are not infallible. Zips slide down, holes become sufficiently holey... and because you're so caught up in the adventure, you don't even notice until the finish (or later) that your car keys are gone.

This happened tonight at my night navigation coaching session; a fellow lost his car key. When it is pitch black, the ground surface is grass, the key is single sans chunky keyring, the route you've taken is not on a path and you don't know where you lost the key... the chance of finding it is next to zero.

That's problem one. (It's a similar problem to locking your keys in your car)

Next, your house keys are in your car, you live alone and there is no duplicate set with a friend or neighbour. With security being what it is you can't just climb through a window, like in the old days, to retrieve your spare car key.

What to do!?!

This guy has a friend who is a locksmith so he didn't have to break a car window (costly to replace) to get to his house keys. And there were car guards in the parking lot to keep an eye on the car (and the guy). The friend came out and within two hours everything was sorted.

This situation was, fortunately, quickly resolved and it reminded me to check my spare set of house keys, which are - I think - still with a neighbour. But I've got a newer security gate, which was added after the duplicate set was made (years ago), so the spare keys are not much use because they can't get me inside to retrieve my spare car key. I'll be updating this set tomorrow.

A car key is rarely just a key. It has buttons and all kinds of other elements built in. They're very pricey to replace but would definitely need to be if you've lost one already. Having just one copy... that's way risky.

The key, really, is not to lose your keys. Double check the pockets of your backpack and shorts for hole and functioning zips (zips can unzip, as happened tonight). Use those key-tie-in things within the pocket to secure your keys. Make use of key boxes at events (I'm not totally keen on these myself).

We don't often think about lost car keys (or house keys) - until we lose them. So instead of losing your keys to be reminded of this, take this post as a nudge to check your key situation. I'll be doing this too.

Monday, 14 July 2014

My Washie adventure

I headed down to the Washie 100-miler road race on Friday to crew for my friend Asa Cowell. We met running the Namib Desert Challenge last year - the bug bit and days after the race he was cruising the web looking for ultras to run. He settled on Washie late last year and asked me if I'd be available to crew. I was in without hesitation.

Washie is a classic road 100-miler. It has been around for 38 years and is the oldest road 100 miler in the World (by two weeks!). The route takes runners on the road between Port Alfred and East London. 160-kilometres of rolling hills (many BIG ones) and a lot of tar. This road was upgraded at some stage and is the main road but at Chalumna the running route diverts from the main road on to an original section of old road (at around 107km - labelled "Turn-off to Ncora Village" on the profile) and it stays here until about 120km (3/4 station) when it joins again with the main (new) road. This was my favourite section - much quieter! The main road is busy with cars.

On Friday afternoon we met up with our other seconds, Kerry and Lyall. They were great company throughout the night and we got along very well.

We packed the car and headed off to Port Alfred for the race briefing and the start at the Haylard's Hotel.

With the start at 17h00 and sunset at 17h17, the runners didn't have much daylight. The first 15km of the route is a loop through Port Alfred and as we were not allowed on that section, we headed off for dinner and made it back on to the route in time to catch Asa coming through. 

Getting ourselves ready before he got to us, I couldn't find his bag of gels and bars that he'd shown me before briefing. I'd rummaged through his bag and we ripped through the back of the car looking for it.

And then he comes past and asks for one of his bars to snack on at the next stop. Panic station! We drove back to the parking lot to check in case we'd left it on the grass where he'd been getting changed. Nothing. We phoned the race organiser to ask if anything had been handed in. Nothing! 1h30 into the race and we'd lost his bag of snacks! Oh dear. 

We drove up the hill to a petrol station where the lighting was better. While Kerry ripped through the vehicle and bags again, Lyall bought some Enerjellies (he had these on his list as sweets that he liked) and PVM bars from the small store; I waited on the road for Asa to come past. I waited and waited. No Asa. Other runners came past. We weren't sure whether we'd seen them.

I stayed on the roadside while Kerry and Lyall drove a bit down the hill. No Asa. We must have missed him! Arrggghhh.

We sped off, passed him and pulled off a bit further down. "We've got to up our game," we all decided.

Kerry and I got some sandwiches (cut into quarters - very handy) ready as well as a plate with the bars we bought at the garage store. We'd have to confess that we couldn't find his sweetie bag.

"It's a black Comrades bag and it's in the cooler box," he tells us as he comes past.

We rip through the car again. Absolutely nothing. Oh well, we had reasonable, palatable substitutes.

Although the route profile doesn't look too bad over the first part, driving it I couldn't help thinking "I'm glad I'm not running this!". Hill after hill, climb after climb.

At 1/4, 1/2 and 3/4 distances were timing stations. Asa logged his first 40km at a perfect pace, covering the distance in an even five hours. Here he stopped to pull on his tights - at 22h00 it was getting chilly.

He clocked through 50km only 65 mins later -  a 6:30 pace. He was aiming for an even 7:15 pace for the race so he was a little quicker on this section.

It must have been around here that he asked for a cup of coke at the next point. I crawled to the back of the vehicle to retrieve the bottles - and found the black Comrades bag containing Asa's sweeties and bars tied up inside the plastic bag with the coke bottles. Phew! As it turned out, he only ate one bar and didn't touch many of the sweets. I was quite pleased because sugar is a demon on ultras. He'd been drinking Energade too and, for me, it's just too much sweet. He changed on his own to more savoury options, which was the best route to take.

Lyall had thought to bring his bicycle along so that he could keep Asa company on the road. I was planning to run with Asa for stretches, especially in those tough hours from one or 2am until after sunrise. I started running earlier.

At about 59km Lyall hopped on the bike, riding next to Asa. We drove ahead and parked four-kilometres along. Kerry and I were chatting up a storm when another crew stopped next to us to say that Lyall had a puncture. We drove back to fetch him. Back at our stop, Kerry and I joined Asa, running with him through to the 71-odd kilometre mark.

His legs were really feeling it and at this stop he was probably in the worst state of the entire race. He stopped and lay down on the ground! I hinted that this wasn't a good idea because even though I'd tossed a blanket over him, that he'd get cold quickly. I took a photo (blackmail material) but didn't post it on his Facebook as I didn't want Bianca (Asa's wife), friends and family to see it. This was definitely not cause for worry.

He sat up and moved to lean against the wheel of the car as he drank down a cup of soup. Within minutes we were off again.

That soup (and coffee) hit the spot and we were ticking along at a good pace; even and steady and not too fast. I ran with him for the next 4km (until approx 75km mark) and then Lyall took over on the bike through to the 80km halfway point.

But by the next stop, 4km away, Lyall had another puncture and no more tubes. The road in this area was really not great for the bike with loads of sharp debris on the shoulder. I pulled on my shell and set off with Asa.

I was really happy to run. It was chilly standing around but perfect for running. The timing was also good for me to hit the big-big climb with Asa. He'd heard from other runners pre-race that the climb could take an hour.

We had a super pace up the hill. The gradient really wasn't too terrible but it just went on and on and on, up to the highest point on the course. We walked sections but ran a lot of it at a steady and even conversational pace. Asa took it beautifully - with 90km already in his legs. A long downhill was our reward, leading to the Chalumna turn-off. It was daylight now.

The night really flew past quickly. As support we were busy the whole night. Drive 4km, stop, prep snacks and drinks, wait for Asa, hand over the goodies, drive 4km, stop, prep snacks and drinks... time flies really quickly and before you know it it is 2am and then 3am and then 4am... Running the time flies just as fast.

This Chalumna section is original road that still remains after the upgrade. It was pleasant and quiet. We knew there was another climb at Chalumna but it turned out to be far easier than anticipated and we ran most of it - almost waiting for the bad part, which didn't materialise. At one point we looked back and down and saw where we'd come from - far, far below. It really hadn't felt that bad (a good thing!) and was nice to see where we'd been.

On the Chalumna Road.
At about 114km I stopped briefly to change from long tights and long sleeve top to 3/4 tights and a short sleeve top. I was cooking. The car dropped me a kilometre or so up the road to join Asa again.

For some hours I'd been carrying a water bottle for Asa. If there's one thing that is an absolute pleasure, it is crewing for a runner who eats and drinks. Asa was good at both.

Asa's wife, Bianca, arrived (maybe around 09h30 / 10h00) with their children, Riley and Skylar, and Bianca's dad. Asa was all smiles to see them.

With Bianca there, Kerry and Lyall shuffled food and goodies to their car and shot off to East London to borrow another bike from a friend. They returned later - maybe by around 125km.

From the later part of the detour route we had another runner near us, John. He has run 14 Washies and is a previous winner. We'd catch him and then when we'd stop briefly at the vehicle he'd cruise past. He didn't stop at his vehicle. His support would hand him a bottle of Energade and he'd hand the empty bottle back a few kilometres further. I didn't see him eat a thing!

A bit later, on the main road again, we did catch him. We also then saw another two guys and they were in our sights for ages (probably hours). We were slowly gaining on them. And ahead was another runner or two.

Asa had been battling with chafing from early on. I suggested that he change his shorts. It must have been around 140km when we stopped for this. Lyall then joined him from here on the bike and I climbed into the car. I'm not quite certain but I think I got in close to 70km throughout the night and morning -  and a lovely run it was. I'm not used to long distances like this on road, favouring trail, and it was very pleasant.

Lyall and Asa - into urban East London. Not far to go now!

With about 8-10km to go, Bianca joined Asa. The clouds had lifted a while earlier, the sky was a beautiful blue and the sun was warm -  a perfect final hour.

Kerry and I went ahead to wait on the esplanade for them to come through. There Bianca invited me to join them for the final few kilometres. Bianca peeled off after a bit to collect their children to meet us at the finish. I very proudly ran through to the finish with Asa and with Lyall on the bike.

100 metres to go! Turning into the gate at the Buffs Club in East London.
21h23 and 17th place. Asa completes his first 100 miler.

Asa's crew - looking a bit tired after almost 36hrs awake. Lyall, Lisa and Kerry.
Prize giving on Sunday morning, Our runner with his hard-earned trophy and tracksuit top.
Being down at Washie was an excellent experience. It's a treat to be with a super crew and good company in the form of Kerry and Lyall. It's also great to second for a runner who is focused and determined.

Asa was a perfect runner to crew for. He runs well. He eats and drinks regularly. He's pleasant company - even when he's tired and fatigued. You can't get better than this.

I'm not certain whether Washie is on the cards for me. I've always shunned road ultras, preferring trail ultras. And I'm not crazy about running on that busy road with traffic - cars and trucks flying past! I prefer the quiet and solitude of mountains and forests. But, I did enjoy the event - running and crewing - and so the seed is planted. Whether it grows or not remains to be seen.

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Night navigation coaching session (Tues 22 July)

NIGHT NAVIGATION: Tues, 22 July 2014

You know how it goes. A friend says, "Let's get together for coffee". And then a year passes...

Once my navigation coaching routine from March / April got out-of-sync with the April/May public holidays, our National Orienteering Squad coaching weekend and then Expedition Africa and then Metrogaine... Well, my AR-style nav coaching sessions went a bit like that coffee arrangement. They didn't happen.

Over the Easter weekend I was involved with our youth, junior and senior orienteering squads and in addition to coaching I participated in a fun relay event (daylight) and a night O. Running through those forests in the pitch-black night... I'm still tingling with delight! I had the most superb, spot-on run. Not everyone did.

Navigating at night is a totally different game. It can be stressful but it can also be good fun - if you know where you are.

In low visibility conditions (night, forests, vegetation, fog) your compass is key. You need to know how to use it and trust it. Your map orientation also has to be spot-on and you've got to keep distance judgement in mind too, especially for technical controls.

"How do I navigate at night?" is a question I often hear from my navigation students and adventure racers.

On Tuesday, 22 July 2014 I'll give you some of the tools that will see you through the night. Of course practice-practice-practice is also key. Practice in daylight hones your skills; practice at night builds your confidence.

Date: Tuesday, 22 July 2014
Venue: Delta Park. Use the parking off Pitcairn Road (near the intersection with Penelope Avenue)

Session 1: 17h00 to 17h45: Compass use (orientating map with compass; direction of travel)
Session 2: 18h00 to 19h00: Practical activity

Cost: R50/session

To bring:
  • Headlamp
  • Warm clothing
  • Base-plate compass (I have got a number of compasses available for your use if you don't yet have your own compass)
If you walk/run with a mobile app (or other device) that tracks your movements by GPS, I'll gladly give you feedback on your route choices.

Please book, don't just rock up. Payment confirms booking and map printing. And also gives me an idea of numbers so that I know how many other coaches to pull in.

Note that this is NOT an event or race. It is for the express purpose of coaching compass and night navigation skills.

We (Adventure Racing Club) are cooking up a Night Series for summer (similar but different to our Summer Series which we held earlier this year). You can race then.
I hope to see you on the 22nd.


P.S. If you have not yet considered entering the annual foot & mtb rogaining event on the weekend of 26/27 July, please give it some thought. Phone me if you have questions about it. Navigation and strategy in one event.

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Gilloolies hill repeat party, Sat 19 July 2014

My local Gilloolies (also spelled Gilloolys) hill is wicked! It makes for seriously technical and lung-busting repeats. I've written about it before.

I've got a bunch of people who are keen to give it a go - and it helps to have someone show you the trails. Once you know what is what, you can return again whenever you want.


Saturday, 19 July 2014
14h45 for 15h00 (don't be late - be ready to start at 3pm)
Meet on Fouchee Terrace, Morninghill
Bring a water bottle or hydration pack (you can leave it at the top/bottom)

We don't do the hill 'together'. Each person can set off in their own time and do the hill at their own pace.

I've got a rock at the top and a rock at the bottom that I use as the start and finish spots for each repeat.

Ascents can take as little as 5:30 (or faster?) and up to a couple of minutes longer (even 8 minutes is still hard work). You go at your own pace and you can choose how many repeats to do. Two is good, three is great, four is quite something and five will burn your legs and lungs.

Descents are tricky and take as much or longer than the ascent.

Any shoes - trail or road - are fine. Trail would be preferable.

I hope to see you there. Just rock up if you're keen.

A three-hill repeat session from about a month ago.

The funny thing about cold

We've had a really, really mild winter here in Johannesburg. Sunny days and good short-sleeve-running warmth. Sure, mornings are chilly - but I don't run in the morning if I can avoid it.

I had the most magnificent winter's afternoon run on Sunday - in a tee. And then that nasty cold front from the Cape hit Jo'burg on Monday. Brrr... temperatures have plummeted. I've been soft - I didn't run on Monday or Tuesday. This evening I've got my weekly Wednesday run with my friend Rob - so I'll be getting out there.

Cold is a funny thing.

Last year, when I spent four weeks in Bariloche (Argentina) over winter, it was colder there - every day; but I was always warm. It was snug and cosy in the hostel and the Spanish school and I'd head out from this warmth, dressed warmly, when ever I went out. My gloves, beanie, scarf and jacket would go on before I stepped out the door - so I just never got cold.

To run, I'd head out with long tights (and not even my super-dooper-warm Powerstretch tights!), a thermal long-sleeved top, a very light wind shell (sometimes two - just in case the weather was worse higher up), light running gloves (not always) and two Buffs. And this worked brilliantly. On a few occasions I'd run with the shell tied around my waist.

Running on my birthday last year - in snow! (and sweating)
I don't often have to worry about running in the very cold here. This evening's run will be chilly - but also invigorating. I'm looking forward to it.

Seconding at Washie this weekend

I'm off to East London on Friday morning to second for a friend running Washie 100, a classic South African 100-miler road race. Yes, that's 160-kilometres on tar; and a busy road at that. It's on the road that connects Port Alfred with East London. It's the 38th running of this event.

I met my runner, Asa, at the Namib Desert Challenge last year. He's been living in Malawi and coincidentally grew up and went to school down the road from me.

Namib was his first staged race and although he's run Comrades a few times, he really got the taste for a lot of distance. After Namib he started trawling the web for events and settled on doing Washie. He asked me if I'd crew - and I readily agreed. And now, almost a year later, we're here. He's fresh off

We've got two other people with me on the crew. As the road is busy, we have to drive behind our runner for the whole race. I look forward to running with Asa in the wee hours of morning to give him a pick-me-up and to guide him over the last few kilometres to the finish (looks like the roads are tricky in town and he'll be tired). I need to wait for him to get a bit tired so I can keep up with him. hahahaha

Fortunately the weather forecast is looking reasonable. We're looking at 22°C / 11°C in Port Alfred on Friday and 18°C / 14°C in East London on Saturday (possibly with rain).

Winning time is little over 13hrs. Cut-off is 26hrs. The race starts at 17h00 on Friday evening from Port Alfred.

Gonna be a good weekend.

Saturday, 5 July 2014

Blood donation #37 (& SANBS lifts ban on LGBTI donors)

I should have been at my local donor clinic a month ago... I decided to swing past this morning as I was in the area.

June is Blood Donor Month. They had leftovers. So I got one of these today (in July). Nice for my photo.
My one regular donor-centre nurse said that donor numbers have been low. Another chirped in that none of the clinics are making target.

They had a mobile clinic at the annual Rand Easter Show. She said they have people who come there and donate year after year - and only once a year. Know what? Their donation ends up in the bin.


You may be all feel-good about that once-off donation but it is a waste of time, blood and resources of the National Blood Service.

As a recipient, I'm sure you'll prefer to receive blood from trusted donors whose donations are regularly tested and screened and always turn up clear and safe? Ja.


SANBS recently dropped their ban on accepting donations from people in same-sex relationships. Finally. It has taken them long enough.

The general SANBS policy for hetrosexual donors has always questioned risky sexual behaviour, for example "if they have had more than one sexual partner in the past six months, or if they have had sexual contact with someone whose sexual background is unknown to them" the person may not donate.

From a release on SABC website:
In the past gay men or male to male sex (MSM) were only allowed to donate blood if they had been celibate for 6 months or longer.
This was because they were seen as being at high risk for being HIV positive. The South African HIV epidemic is primarily a heterosexual one, so the SANBS’ policy was criticized as being discriminatory.
With effect from the 5th of May 2014, the new questionnaire will address sexual risk, in that any sexual act or contact with a new partner/s during the preceding six months will be deemed a risk to the safety of blood supply, irrespective of the personal sexual orientation or preference.
Irrespective of their sexual orientation, people who are in monogamous relationships will be able to donate blood. However people with multiple partners or a new partner will not be able to donate blood irrespective of their sexual orientation.
Damn flippin' right!

I saw an accident last night. Fortunately there were no injuries - but it could have been bad. I'd just run across the Kloof Road bridge, which goes over the N3 (just South of Gilloolies) with my friend Jason when we heard the sound of tyres. It wasn't the sound of breaking tyres - more like sliding tyres. Fast. I saw a blur through the bushes and we ran across the road, back on to the bridge.

A double cab pulling a flat-bed trailer loaded with those big round hay bales was on the far side of the N3 North - and it has clearly spun across the highway, doing an almost full circle to end up perpendicular to the traffic in the emergency lane and with the trailer behind it (looked to be off the hitch). There were hay bales all over the road.

And not even one other car had been hit, even with the hay bales bouncing all over the place. To spin around on a four-lane highway and not hit anyone else... that's luck!

A car had stopped behind the bakkie and it looked like the driver was A-ok. A passing emergency vehicle on the other side of the highway stopped too, put on his reflective vest and jumped over to see the driver too.

My guess is that the trailer was overloaded and that he had a blow out, which spun the heavily-laden trailer and the bakkie out of control. How he got that many of them on to the trailer in the first place is beyond me. I've climbed up onto these big bales and to get up I had to take a flying run. They're probably about head height for me.

There are BIG accidents on this stretch of highway. It's a really nice section so I'd put my money on speed and dangerous overtaking as the primary reason for accidents. It's actually such a bad accident area that I avoid it. I live about 1.5km away and use different on-ramps depending on my direction of travel just to avoid this stretch. That bad!

I'm O-negative (7% of the population). My blood can be given to anyone - I'm a universal donor.

Car accident victims may require 40 to 100 units of blood to save their life. Blood is also used for organ transplant patients, burn victims, people with blood disorders and surgery patients. A statistic I saw online states that one in seven people will require a transfusion in their lifetime.

Most blood donors only start donating after they have been recipients of the good will of donors...

I first donated blood shortly after I turned 16 (you've got to be 16 and at least 50kg in weight to donate). I donated regularly for a number of years and once I got into adventure racing and was regularly in malaria areas, I stopped donating and lost my regular donor status. In 2008 I regained my regular donor status (at least three donations a year) and have maintained it since.

As I've said before, don't go to donate unless you intend to become a regular donor - at least three times a year.Once-off donations are a waste of resources, blood and good intentions. You can check the SANBS website for clinics (fixed and mobile). 

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Run like a girl and win the race

This gem popped through on my FB feed late last night. What a winner!

I'm a girl. I don't run 'like a girl' in the derogatory sense of the expressions. I run damn brilliantly. And my girl friends run damn brilliantly too. We also paddle, bike, orienteer, dance, climb and everything else adeptly and with confidence and experience and ability.

I don't throw very well. Then again, with the exception of netball in primary school, I've never played any ball sports. I throw like someone who has rarely had to throw a ball.

I'm not that great at kicking either. With the exception of the week I spent on a set as a 'dream team' participant for a gladiator-football-themed tv show back in October 2009, I'd never really kicked a ball - they taught me (and I don't think I've kicked one since). I kick a ball like someone with no experience; who has never really kicked a ball.

And after a bit of time I can even hit balls adequately (tennis, pingpong, cricket, baseball) - but years go by between opportunities. As it turns out, I have an aptitude for golf. Who would have guessed.

Experience and familiarity determine how you do things; not your gender.

To do things 'like a girl' is derogatory - whether told to boys or girls, men or women. We all know what it means and the connotations are funny. But this is one expression I'd like to see banished from popular usage. I don't want my niece or nephews to learn this one.

As the video below shows, these children haven't yet been limited by gender expectations. Long may this continue. It is us - adults - that need the attitude correction.

Great video by 'Always'.

"In my work as a documentarian, I have witnessed the confidence crisis among girls and the negative impact of stereotypes first-hand," said Lauren Greenfield, filmmaker and director of the #LikeAGirl video. 
"When the words 'like a girl' are used to mean something bad, it is profoundly disempowering. I am proud to partner with Always to shed light on how this simple phrase can have a significant and long-lasting impact on girls and women. I am excited to be a part of the movement to redefine 'like a girl' into a positive affirmation."

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Talk about something you know

I like Penelope Trunk. She's a blogger, start-up starter, coach and all kinds of other things. I've probably written about her before. She has a wicked blog that I've been getting for a few years. She's shoots from the hip when it comes to her opinion on raising children and having a career (she's had/done/got both).

This photo was posted on Twitter by @kathylette on 17 June 2014. She writes, "Here is a snap of the Global Summit of Women 2014. Take a look. I don't know whether to laugh or cry."

Before you have a knee-jerk reaction to this, there is, of course, more to this photo than what it appears to be at face value. It was one of a number of panels and apparently what these guys had to say was relevant to their panel (and women). This photo has gone all over the place and has been sufficiently condemned.

Penelope's blog today was a good one. It's entitled "#1 Rule for giving advice to women".

Bottom line is, "If you give advice to women, talk about something you know".

Same goes for just about anything eh? Men too.

Penelope's posts always include loads of links to past articles that she has written. I haven't read even half of them but there are some gems on her site.

Back on the road

Phew - that knee bash of a week ago was scary. I took the ultra-conservative option to not run for a week just incase it was more of a straight-up bash to the bone.

My first run outing was on Friday night and all was well. Not a tingle nor a twinge. Still, I played it safe and didn't run the next day or the next. Yesterday I headed out for a run and had a blitzing one!

Knee is feeling fine despite the patella - where I whacked it - still feeling sensitive (not sore) to the touch more after the run. I'll run again this afternoon (first consecutive run since the bash). I think I'm on the home straight.

While running yesterday, I was thinking about how good I was feeling. The rest has certainly done me more good than anything else. As well as resting the injured knee, it also rested my legs and body. Aside from a walk with my mom last week, I've done mostly no exercise for a week. It's been frustrating, but beneficial at the same time.

Silver lining indeed.

Super awesome FEAT newsletter

Every couple of weeks (plus a couple more), I sit down to assemble a FEAT newsletter. It takes hours! Like lots of hours! Part of the assembly is checking up on adventures to see where people are. It is commonplace to get a big media hoo-ha before adventures begin but then little follow-up during and nothing after - so some news takes a while to track down. It's quite fun to see what has been happening and how adventurers are doing if they're still out there.

It's always interesting to see the diversity of adventures - from the discipline to the duration and theme and location and conditions... From one week to the next I even forget who is doing what and when. The newsletter brings it all together in brief little snippets.

This morning I wrapped up the most recent edition of the FEAT newsletter.

You can read a copy *** HERE ***