Saturday, August 29, 2009

Born to run.....

Man has been running for as long as he has existed here on earth. First and most importantly man had to run to stay alive! We were chased by big predators for miles on end and the better you run the longer you might live! Before man invented the bow and arrow the only other weapon that was used was the stick, and this method was not very effective to say the least....imagine trying to run next to a 500kg beast and attempting to batter it to the ground while staying clear from hooves and horns....This proved a little bit tricky.

But man had a weapon more effective than a rock or a sharp stick....we have an evaporation based cooling system in the form of sweat and as it turns out, a buck can only run for a limited amount of time before it needs to stop to cool the body down, they don’t sweat! The San Bushmen of the Kalahari used this technique to great effect to literally run the Kudu into the ground till it is so hot and exhausted that it has to stop and drop!

So when did I first started running? My first contact with a runner was with Oom Louis Naude, my best friend`s Dad. He was the one who got me into a pair of running shoes by the time I was about 12 years old. I used to visit the Naude`s almost every weekend and the treat would be when we would go away to their farm for the weekend. Those were the best days of my childhood, as this was where I was taught how to drive a car, how to ride a horse, how to milk a cow, how to fire a rifle, and most importantly, how to run. Oom Louis is a veteran of many Two Oceans and a couple of Comrades Marathons. Every Saturday he would run past our house and take a loo break, my dad always joked that he could set a clock to oom Louis toilet breaks!

While on the farm the two of us would run to the river that flowed through the farm, must have been over 10km from the house as the run was always over an hour or so. My first pair of running shoes was a pair of hand me downs stuffed with newspaper to make them fit! I would run behind oom Louis and his sheepdog and show up 15 minutes behind him. One of the toughest runs with him was while he was prepairing for the Two Oceans, and we ran around Kroonstad, and I guess it must have been close on a 21km run, and by the time I got home I was so tired, I crashed and slept the whole day. Oom Louis told my Dad that he was amazed by my run and that I had the talent to be a good runner. So that is when I first started to think about running.

I only really developed into a good runner when I went to high school. I joined the cross country running team and was the only junior in the team. My first race was in Parys, a small town on the border of the Freestate and Gauteng. I remember being very nervous but after a flat Coke and a Bar-One I set off and came 3rd in my first ever official race. I really enjoyed cross country as you never know what the circuit will be like and have to adjust to the terrain on the day. I went to Bloemfontein and ran in the Freestate trails and made the Freestate Team to compete in the SA Champs in Wellington. I did well at SA Champs and finished 5th in my first champs. I did cross country till I was about 16 and then had to choose between that and swimming. I had too many extracurricular activities, I took part in swimming, cross country, high jump, 1200m and 1500m track running, biathlon and lifesaving. I decided to stick to track and field, swimming and biathlon. I did lifesaving on the weekends as this has always been my passion. In the winter it was rugby, my other great love! PS - Well done to the Boks for a great display of rugby this weekend against the Aussies!

I ran my first marathon at the age of 18. Thing is, I attempted my first ever marathon.......in the Ironman Triathlon in Vereeniging. Man, what a massive wake up call, thinking that I am a good enough runner I neglected my running training and focused only on the bike leg of the race. On race day I joined the other swimmers in the Vaal river for the 3,8km, bit nervous but confident. The race started and I shot out ahead trying to get away from the pack of swimmers, and by the time I came out the water I just remember running into the transition area and seeing that hardly any bikes have left the area yet. As I mounted the bike I just heard the announcer call out my race number to the crowed and to my disbelieve I was in the top 10 athletes. I was shocked, but the good news fuelled me and I flew out on the highway heading toward Joburg for the first lap of the 180km bike leg. I did well on the bike for the first lap, but halfway through the second lap I started to feel a bit flat. Bikes started to overtake me and I realized I went out to hard. By the time I finished the bike leg I entered the transition area in somewhere in the 110th position. My legs we wobbly as I started the 42km run and immediately I knew that this was going to be the toughest 42km of my life! Within the first 5km my legs started cramping so badly that I considered just stepping off the course but to my credit I stuck it out and continued on. I laboured through the 42km and if it was not for my second, Bruce, who talked and nursed me through the last 10km,I would never have made it. I finished my first Ironman in 12hrs38min and had tears in my eyes as I crossed the finish line that evening. I went home and could not walk for 3 days and vowed to be back and make sure I prepare well for the next race. Two years later I returned much fitter and wiser and finished in a respectable 11hrs16min. I am hoping to take part in the Hawaiian Ironman in the next couple of years!

During my time in Sun City where I worked as a lifeguard supervisor, I was surrounded by great runners. I had three running partners, Freddie who is better known as Ballas (a story for another day!), Alson a Zulu from Durban, and Marvi Sheehan, a 60+ year old 20+ Comrades Marathon legend! Marvi is an Aussie who left his native land to go and work in the UK as a 16 year old lad. After a couple years in the UK Marvi had enough and went to Egypt for some sightseeing. Marvi being a surfer, heard of the magical right-hander in J-Bay South Africa and decided he was going to make his way down to the Eastern Cape......by foot! Marvi travelled through Africa on foot and paddled across rivers on his surfboard and slept in empty police station cells. Marvi tells of a time when he was paddling across a river in Kenya and the locals on the other side were waving as he approached. Marvi stopped, waved and continued in their direction. When he arrived ashore he found out that the locals dare not go too close to the river in that area as there was a killer croc patrolling the waters and here is Marvi thinking, what a warm welcome from the locals!

Marvi settled in SA and worked for the Durban municipality as a Lifeguard Manager for years and years and we met in Sun City as he helped out in the winter as all the other managers headed up to the Uk for the season. My other running buddy, Alson, a Zulu from the hills of Natal, was probably the best running partner I have ever had. Alson helped me to run a 10km night race in Rustenburg in 36 minutes, my fastest time over 10km ever. I have never managed to go faster than that. We used to run a massive 2km hill in Sun City and Alson named it Inshlangagash – The Sacred Hill. That hill made us very very strong and the fact that we had the odd baboon playing chasing us up the hill also helped the fitness levels improve!

I have had the privilege to run in some of the most scenic places on this planet! Some of my favourite running routes were on the west coast of Ireland where I lived in a small village called Tully, and I ran along the cliffs covered in grass that grows right into the Atlantic Ocean. Some of my other favourite spots include running along the Mediterranean Ocean in Cyprus, Sun City, Lesotho, Cape Town, Simontown and Hermanus just to name a few.

Bluewater Bay PE - I lived here on the Hoek for about 6 months and was a great place to do some good run swim runs. We would run to the top of the hook, swim all the way down to the mounth of the river, jump out and run a 5k time trail.



Cape Town - Running up Signal Hill is one of my favorite runs in the Cape. It is a tough run and very steep, but once you reach the top the view is to die for. You have great views of the city bowl, Table Mountain, Camps Bay and Robben Island in the distance.



Sun City, the best running place I ever lived in! Hills, bush, wildlife and the best running partners you could ever ask for! Whenever I go to Sun City I hit the dirt tracks and go around the resort while taking in as much of the fresh air and nature as possible!


This is Cape Greco in Ayia Napa Cyprus where I worked and lived. My house was 20 m away from the Med and I used to run along the rocky coastline and whenever it got to hot I would just jump into the cool Med water!




This is the Freestate below where I first started running as a young boy. The Freestate is good for the soul with all the space and the crisp fresh air in the winter!



This is in Coffeebay in the beautiful Transkei. My favorite run would be from the Coffee Shack to Hole in the Wall and back, a solid 20km run with so many hills it is impossible to run non stop!

Running is in my blood and I love it. I am so looking forward to running the Marathon des Sables next years as this will be a great test of character and the will to succeed. As you know I am doing this for children with autism and every step I will take across the Sahara will be for all those families out there who is dealing with this disorder on a daily base, and this is much tougher than any race or marathon out there.

This one is for every person ever affected by Autism.


Friday Morning Run - 15,3km

On Friday morning I set out for a long run as the plan was to run to the Palm Island with Mariana, but a breakdown in communication meant that we did not manage to hook up and had to do two separate runs.

I am looking at increasing my weekly distances as the weather is slowly improving which is making the runs much more enjoyable! I decided to run through the Jumeirah Lake Towers which would take me through to the Springs and Meadows, a nice greener part of town with running paths and then head back home through the desert.

When I entered the desert area after 10km I realized that the area is very busy with construction and that running through would be a bit of a challenge. I did not want to turn around and run home because I would be right into the sun and wind, so I opted for the desert run. After a few obstacles of nails in the sand, a bulldozer and walking across a hole with about a 10 meter drop over a thin beam, and filling my shoes with mud, I made it across to the other side!

Once I enter the desert bit between the construction site and home I managed to pick up the pace again and finish off a tough morning run. Below is a link to Garmin with details of my run!

Garmin Connect -
Activity Details for
Friday Morning Run


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Garmin 310 XT Forerunner!

I have always been a sucker for gadgets, and I have just bought a new toy for running, the Garmin Forerunner 310 XT. This is the perfect training tool as you are able to track your running with a GPS and download it to Google Earth, as well as monitoring your pace, heart rate, calories burned and you are also able to swim with the watch.

Another cool function is that you are able to set different goals and challenges and track it online at Garmin connect. Once you have downloaded your run you can get graphs on your average pace, elevational changes and terrain printouts. I am amazed how accurate the GPS is. This will definitely help with tracking your progress and is a good motivational tool as you can see exactly what kind of training you have put in. I am loving it!

Below is a map of a run I did on Friday morning. I ran a 15.3km run with full backpack and and 40% of the run was done off road through a construction site which was no fun at all as I was dodging nails and very muddy areas!


Sunday, August 23, 2009

The face of Autism

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Some MDS 09 Footage......

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Run Dup Run


After coming back from Bab Al Shams I have done about 50km which is not too bad. I am really hoping that the heat would go away soon as I am really in need of running in some cooler weather.

About 5 days ago I went into the desert area near where we live and walked/run/walked for 2hours and 15 minutes. i paked the Salomon with about 6kg and I could feel the difference betweent the weight of my camelback compared to the 6kg`s in the bag. During the MDS I `ll start the race with about 13kg`s....

I walked a good deal of the time as the sand was very very soft and powdery.After about 15 minutes in I had to stop and empty my socks as the shoes could not keep out the powder sand. I was amazed with how much sand entered my shoes, I`ll need to start testing gaiters pretty soon.

Arno is staying with us for a while and he is doing the longer runs with me. Two days ago we did a hill session which was pretty hard due to the fact that we were sheltered from the wind for most of the run which caused us to over heat a bit. Arno has a massive blister with bruising after about 4 running sessions.....tennis socks will not do buddy......

I was planning to attent a yoga session this evening but I am very tired to be honest. The shift work is not helping as I am getting home at 10h30pm and then back up again for 6am and throw in the summer weather and an attempt at training and you get a pretty tired boytjie. I will try and balance the training and work hours better, so the sooner the winter pulls in the better for me. I should be able to double weekly running distance once the weather cools down.

Tomorrow I am doing a photo shoot for an article that will be featuring in the Xpress Newspaper next weekend. I have emailed every newspaper and magazine here in Dubai to try and feature my run and autism awareness. This would also help me with getting exposure with regards to attracting possible sponsors!

Otherwise all is good, just need to get over this tiredness and keep my head up and run my hart out! Run Dup Run!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

A weekend away at Bab Al Shams Desert Resort

This weekend we managed to get away from Dubai and make use of my Jumeirah colleague benefit of staying at the Bab Al Shams Desert Resort. The hotel is about 30 minutes out of town and is a nice quite hideaway from busy Dubai. I was not sure whether I was going to run or not and took my kit along just in case. My left knee has been a bit tender the last couple of days. Last year I had an ACL operation on the knee after a rugby injury, so every now and again I can feel it. I think it is just the amount of running I am doing now, will take some time for the knee to get used to it, so nothing serious!

Bab Al Shams is a charming little resort and from the moment we walked in I could feel the stress of the city lifting of my shoulders. One of my old Widi Wadi colleagues was at and to show us to our suite, tucked away in a quite little corner of the resort! Perfect! We headed out the very cool infinity pool located right next to the desert sand and chilled for the afternoon. Looking out across the sand I decided I definitely have to go for a run in the sand as it would be a shame not too, and luckily my running kit was in the bag ready to be used the next day!

On Friday morning we stayed in bed and had some yummy breakfast and then headed out to the pool. I booked a massage for the afternoon straight after my run! I decided to run at noon to feel the heat and test myself against the elements. I have done some good sessions in the heat so this was not too much of a problem. I have pack my camel bag and at around 11h30 I headed out into the desert. From the start I was pretty stoked to be out there as this was a taste of things to come when we arrive in Morocco! And from the start I also figured out what is going the be one of my most valuable investments, gaiters for my running shoes as sand was pouring in like there is no tomorrow!

I had a nice little breeze keeping me relatively cool, however, the glare reflecting off the sand is is very strong. Good thing my running glasses are polarized! I also kept a hat in my bag for later in the run as I could feel the sun will burn more and more as I sweat. I covered a good few kilometers in the first half of the run across the sand but I could feel sand collecting in the front of the shoe. I stopped and took the shoe off just and was amazed how much sand got into the shoe. I was conscious of sinking to deep into the sand, however, sand still got in, through the shoe and the sock!

Here is a photo of some sand that got through my shoes. I had to stop every few K`s to empty my shoes, socks and then to rinse the sand from my toes. I have seen some photos of serious blisters caused by sand inside a shoe. It is absolutely crucial to keep the sand out as much as possible and look after my feet. When I am in the MDS my feet will be looked after like gold, as they will have to carry me across the best of what the Sahara has to offer in terms of terrain. My mate Anthony will send some old shoes in SA where his friend with test some industrial glue on the shoes and velcro strips that will attach the gaiters to the shoes. If we get this part right from the beginning, my feet will be thanking me later for all the effort put in! Thanks Ant!

While I was out there running and singing along to the Ipod I saw a very interesting structure in the distance. I was very curious to see what is was so I headed across to sand towards the building. This area is used for cross country endurance races for Arabian horses, so I got closer I realized that this was an arena where the horses would start and finish. The closer I got the the buildings I realized just have massive the place is! Every here is bigger and better than anywhere in the world and this place is no exception! I was really amazed with how big this place is, and it was clear that this place has not been used all summer, bit with the winter approaching this arena should come alive again.
This is the inside of the arena. On both sides of the oval is to towers with podiums and it was almost like running back into time and I could imagine the atmosphere with the arena filled with people and horses galloping through the arena at full speed! I am going to make a point of visiting back here in the racing season to see and feel the atmosphere. The Arabs are very proud equestrian people and love their Arabian thoroughbreds. This must be a sight to behold!I have done a real touristy run and took some more pictures of the great arena!





























Just back from my run, I was out for about 90 minutes, could not go longer as I was running out of water and the last place I want to be stuck is in the desert without any shade or water. I was very happy with the run and will be back to do some more runs in the area. I am also planning to do a run from where I live out to Bab Al Shams, total distance is around 46km. Will be a good test with a full backpack!
Thanks for reading!

Bab Al Shams Desert Run


Some of the videos are quite bright due to the sun reflecting off the sand!

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I love the sand.......maybe not too much......

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Real sand dunes!

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Almost home!

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Monday, August 10, 2009

Another Dubai Resident taking up the MDS challenge

Fiona spotted this article of Dubai resident, Veronica Rivera, who will also take part in the MDS 2010! I have contacted Veronica and we will meet up soon to talk and share ideas on training ect!


Saturday, August 8, 2009

Running with Rey!

One of my work colleagues, Reynaldo took these shots of me a couple weeks ago. Rey is an excellent amateur photographer and he has volunteered to take some action shots of me while training! On the day Rey battled with the humidity as his lens steamed up due to high humidity, but managed to get a couple of shots in. We will be heading into the desert to get some shots of my sand running training.



Thanks for the help Rey! You rock!


Friday, August 7, 2009

Early Morning run with Mariana



Today I ran with Mariana at 5am from the Jebel Ali Gardens to Madinat. I took the backpack for the run, but still not loving it, dreading the thought of carrying the 30 L Raidlight for 6 days fully stocked. One of the issues I think I`ll face is the straps rubbing on my neck. I am constantly adjusting the straps to move them from my neck. Will figure this out when I get the race bag.

The run started at 5am and the heat was not too bad. As we crossed Sheikh Zayed highway we got a nice little breeze coming on the sea which helped a lot. We started strong and push on till we got to the Marina walk. Mariana is not a fan of this area as it over cobble stone pavements, I am also not a fan of this run as it is so boring. Feels like you running in a straight line forever.

When we passed the 6km mark I needed to use the loo and popped into the Le Meridien Mina Siyahi. The chaps at concierge did not even say good morning, maybe they were shocked by the sweaty runner rushing in for a nunber 2! When we got back on the road I started getting stomach cramps, and vomited one next to the road. I was feeling a bit green, not sure what caused this, got a feeling it might be the Milton I am using to clean the Camel Back. With about 3km left I felt a bit better and was relieved to reach Madinat after 80 minutes on the road.

No blisters, the Salomon`s running nicely now, got used to the little bit of extra weight onthe shoes!

Tomorrow I `ll hit the pool and gym, try some of Laird`s circuit training! Then later in the avi we will be heading across to Haydn`s for some Tri Nations agaist the Aussies. Hope my Boks can make it 3 in a row against one of our biggest rugby enemies!

Ama Bokke Bok!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Force of Nature

This is the book Fi bought me! I am loving it as I am already a big fan of Mr. Hamilton. Liard Hamilton was born in San Fransisco and his mother moved to Hawaii when he was only an infant.

As a young, fatherless boy living on Oahu Island, Hawaii, Laird had a coincidental encounter with later-legendary 1960s surfer Bill Hamilton, a bachelor at the time, on the sands of Pupukea beach of the North Shore of Oahu. As chronicled by Laird on film in the big wave riding motion picture documentary Riding Giants, the two became immediate companions and after body surfing with his new acquaintance, the young Laird "coerced" Bill Hamilton to follow him home to "meet my mom". As Laird's telling of the story goes, Bill Hamilton is smitten by the beauty of Laird's "mom". Laird proudly earned match-maker credit for introducing the bachelor Hamilton to his then-single mother, Joann. Bill Hamilton married Joann, and became Laird's adoptive father.

The young Laird Hamilton grew from child to manhood, from the 1970s through 1980s, in a location that is known as one of the greatest surfing regions in the world, the north coast of Oahu, as a backyard playground enjoyed with a well-known surfer as his father and coach, and helped along by all of the other surfing greats of the modern surfing era who were his father's friends and customers. This unique environment molded young Laird Hamilton into the man who would become the greatest big wave surfer in history and who would conquer the largest and most tempestuous ocean waves ever ridden, as documented in film and photographs.

In this book Laird cover topics such as MIND, BODY, SOUL and SURFING. I am find this book very helpful in my quest to complete the MDS. I would definitely recommend this book.

Laird says in the book - I don't have on and off seasons training - I am training for life. I think this is so relevant to our daily lives, it is very easy to set short term goals and fall straight off the bus once a goal is reach. One other thing Laird cover in the book is going barefoot! I am a massive fan of walking barefoot. Whenever we are on holiday in SA I always try and go barefoot as much as possible. He says that he benefits from going barefoot, as the earth is charged by lightning strikes, 6000 bolts per minute, and the body and heart takes on this energy that is available in the earth. Kinda makes sense.

Read this book, you`ll love it!

Here is the intro to the book:

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn`t do than by the things you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.

- Mark Twain

Getting out of the heat for a bit!

I have decided to take my running indoors a bit as the heat is getting really bad now. I am using the gym at Madinat where I am working, pictured left. I did my second treadmill run yesterday, over 10 km in 56 minutes burning 860 cals. I don't mind running indoors, just get a bit bored after running in one place for 60min!Thank the Lord for the invention of the Ipod! The other down side of running indoors is that I am not able to sing out louD!

Tomorrow morning I will do a 13km run to Madinat with Marxie at 5am. If we can do it in 80 minutes I `ll be stoked. I will be taking my back pack with as it has been a while since I ran with a bag. Hopefully the humidity will not be too heavy. I am so looking forward for the winter to start again. It will be perfect training conditions to get me ready for the Dubai Marathon and Wadi Bih run in February, more info to follow on this cool race!

I am also looking at doing some circuit training in the gym. Fi bought me Laird Hamilton`s book - Force of Nature- What an awesome book, will cover some of the book in the next post!

Played tennis with Fiona last night and Al Qsar. It was so hot and humid, we lasted for about 40 minutes before we threw in the towels! Fi showed me a thing or two about hitting return shots, the harder I played the harder she smacked it back at me! I am sure Fi had some secret lessons as she did not seem rusty at all!
So, I am praying this summer away!! Roll on winter!