Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Autistic Scott James - X Factor

This is an inspiring autism story: Scott James was diagnosed with Autism at the age of 13 and for about 7 years stayed indoors as he developed a fear of people. Scott`s Mom helped him through this difficult time and identified his singing talent. She encouraged Scott to take up lessons and this is what happened.......Autism can be beaten!

A Sponsor at last!

Today I received news from a company called Delwood here in Dubai. The owner, Farbod Dowlatsahi was kind enough to sponsor 20% of the total entry fee which will help me a lot. Delwood is a consultancy company here in Dubai and is currently sponsoring European golfing great, Henrik Stenson and they are also responsible for bringing the Ledgends Rock Tennis to Dubai, and in the past they have attracted names like McEnroe, Courier and Monsour Bahrami to name a few.

Delwood is active in their support for the Dubai Autism Center and has
raised money for them in the past through auctions during the Legends tennis festival. I would like to thank Farbod and his team for the contribution, I will dedicate a day of the run to Delwood for their generosity! Thank you.

For more information on Delwood please visit their site :

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Jack Osbourne and the Marathon des Sables......

I found this on Jack Osbourne and the MDS, the first segment of the program is his Bungee in SA and then after 15minutes Jack heads to Morocco for the toughest footrace on Earth!

Very cool episode, makes me a bit nervous watching this bit I`ll be fine!

Dwell not upon thy weariness, thy strength shall be according to the measure of thy desire...

This has been a bit of a hectic week, hence the delay in updating my beloved blog! Sorry to the regular readers, will get my blog back on track again!

So, I got this idea of doing something really tough and for some reason I wanted to attempt a run/walk from Abu Dhabi to Dubai, +100 Km and
how glad I am that I did not attempt that straight away, thanks Rob, thanks Mariana for talking me out of if. Bab al Shams to Arabian Ranches was my next option, 34km on fairly easy terrain, how hard could it be.......well, let me tell you!

Monday morning myself and Mariana left the Gardens at 6am and headed out to the desert resort - LESSON LEARNED # 1 - Start as early
as possible, before the sun is nowhere near peaking it`s head out! We only managed to leave the resort at 7h15 and it was deceptively cool with a nice breeze blowing. I started out by eating a breakfast bar for some energy and I am sure if I missed that snack I would have collapsed at 20km!

We started off with a steady run and then I notice the weight of the backpack......did I mention the backpack. LESSON LEARNED # 2 - buy a very very good backpack china! The Salomon bag I have is designed for running, however I doubt that this is a multi day race bag. I think the bag weighed in very near 10kg.....about 3-4kg lighter than what my MDS race bag will weigh, no there is another little wake up call! The weight did not bother me too much initially and we pushed on and I felt good in the beginning. Then after about 4km I could feel my backside getting wet, seriously wet and we stopped to do a bag inspection just to find out on of our water bottles with Isostar cracked at the bottom. We drank as much as we can and disposed of the bottle and in retrospect we should have done more to try and fix the bottle and save liquids as best as possible.

We pushed on again and after 6km the same thing happened again, I could not believe it as we were going through water like mad, 3l lost in just over 6k`s. - LESSON LEARNED # 3 - Turn water bottles upside down so the cap is facing down into the bag area that is pack most. - LESSON LEARNED 4 - Water is GOLD! I managed to patch the bottle with a plaster and kept it upside down in the bag. We pressed on after having a small break and we both had a banana each and some water and biltong. We reached 10km after about 90minutes on the road, and that includes the two stops we did for the water bottles and food. We decided to head on and get to 20km and then to stop again for some snacks and Isostar.

The tough part of this section was the lack of scenery, just a straight flat run/walk and I realized that any sort of shade out in the desert is an absolute luxury. By this time I could feel the heat getting worst and the K`s were ticking over very slowly. I am forever grateful to the dudes out Apple for the Ipod! I know for a fact the Ipod will help me to get through the Sahara come April 2010!At around 18km we decided to stop and hydrate under the only tree that we could find for miles and miles. I started feeling a bit flat but this soon changed after sharing an orange with Mariana and gulping down Isostar. We pushed on after the break, feeling much better, as the shade got our spirits up again and we cruised on. After being on the road for 3hrs30min I asked Marxie if we should flag a car down and cruise 10km back towards the resort and then walk the last 10km back which would take us up to 30km, a good distance for a first long training session. Mariana agreed and managed to flag down the fastest minibus driver in the Middle East!

After a quick 10km at 150km/h we got back to where I believed the 10km mark to the resort
should be. I was wrong and I think the resort was more like 14km away. We started the walk back to the resort chatting away when I started feeling really tired. The backpack worked me over properly and I think this started to catch up with me. After reaching 25km I hit the wall, and started drinking water like mad to try and feel better, however, with less than a liter of water between two people to share I made the biggest mistake and check on the GPS how much further to the resort and go so demotivated when I realized we had about 7km left, I thought we had 3km left.

We shared a warm Coke and I am not sure if this was a good thing as I just got such a flat feeling after reaching 28km. Marxie did her best to talk me through the k`s but I felt content with the 28km in 4hrs45min in +40 degrees C. We scored our second lift back to the resort and I was happy sitting in my sipping an ice cold Coke!

Overall I am happy we managed to go over 25km for a first distance training in some pretty tough conditions. I am sure I will get much better as the weather cools down and learn how to eat and hydrate properly. The first stage of the 21st MDS was 28km`s, so I am not too worried. I need to keep my focus on distance running and get use to carrying a heavy backpack.

Thanks for doing this with me Marxie, we will hit 35km`s next time.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Mariana`s Desert run experience

I asked Mariana to put here experience of our desert run on paper as I would like to share it with you guys! Thanks for taking the time MArxie!

So when Adam asked me to join him for the run, i was a bit hesitant. I
was scared. Not sure if i could manage the distance in extreme conditions and terrain. I entered the Dubai Marathon 2010 which will be my first marathon ever, and if i can do that under 5 hours i will qualify to enter the Comrades Marathon, which I have been challenged to do with my sister and cousin. So with my preparation for the marathon the furthest i have ran on one day was around 15 km.

What the heck I am off for a few days and I think i can do the distance. I called Adam and said "Im in".

We were ready to start at 7:15 am, me only carrying a 1.5l camelback. Adam carrying all the supplies about 10 kg-water, oranges,mars bars, biltong etc.

We started by running the first 10kms- about 3km into the run, we stopped because the bag leaked. One of the water bottles had a small leak. So we just drank that 1.5l- lesson #1, make sure you use proper bottles. On the road again we went off road until we reached 10km and rested by a tree and had a banana for breakfast, this is here where we realized the 2nd water bottle is also leaking and the Isostar. Water was GOLD at that stage. We filled our camelbacks with the remaining water, knowing that we will need to go easy on water. Im not to sure how much water one should drink but i took a sip every kilometer-like a reward. The Isostar bottled was saved by a Band-Aid plaster.

When we hit the tar road we did sections of running and walking-at one stage Adam checked the temperature and it was around 42 degrees. At 18km we stopped again by a tree which looked like a snakes heaven, I felt something crawling on my leg, it was some type of an insect-i freaked out-Im such a girl. Here we finished the Band-Aid Isostar and shared an orange(it reminded me of the halftime oranges when I was playing netball at school)

On the road again, just one long straight road ahead. So our plan was to go to Arabian Ranches and take a taxi back to BAS,but we went for plan b and got a lift back with a Machang from Sri Lanka. Bit nervous because we were sitting like sardines in a can next to the windscreen and this Machang was driving 140km/h. So he dropped us at the 10km mark back to BAS, again off road.

I was just focused on my water supply. That last 8 km felt like eternity, with the sun directly at us and the water boiling hot.
I was dreaming of an ice cold can of coke. We still had a lot of food supplies in the bag, but i could not even think of eating, just wanted liquids.

We finished 28 km later and I got my reward, ice cold can of Coke, which i downed like in 2 seconds! If i need to do it again i will focus more on eating something solid, wearing different shoes(had too much sand inside)and starting earlier.

Adam thanks for inviting me with, i have been living in the UAE for 7 years and it was the first time i really connected with the desert.

Good luck with your race.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Bab Al Shams to Dubai......

Tomorrow I will be running/walking between 35km and 51km depending on how well my legs feel. I will be doing the run with Mariana from Bab al Shams to Dubai and back to Jebel Ali. I have started to get used to the idea of being on my feet all day.

I will be carrying a backpack with food, water and medical supplies. I will make the backpack as heavy as possible as I would like to get use to heavy bags, so come April 13kg should feel like 5kg`s!

I will update the blog with pics and videos of our run and if all goes well I`ll look at the 100km run from Abu Dhabi to Dubai sometime next month!


Monday, September 7, 2009

Madonna running the MDS?

So this has been going around in the press:

Numerous news outlets and gossip sites are reporting this morning that Madonna has plans to run the Marathon des Sables, a grueling 151-mile ultramarathon held in Morocco. The marathon starts next April, and it is raced over the Sahara Desert.

Well, apparently the story is not true. Her publicist, Liz Rosenberg, told contact music several days ago that the rumors were false, saying bluntly: "It's not true." Even if Madonna had decided to run the race in April, she may have had a hard time getting a spot. Entries are selected by lottery well in advance, and organizers are currently conducting a lottery for the 2011 race.

So what is the Marathon des Sables? The organizers bill it as the "toughest footrace on earth," and the British Rep jokingly claims it's perfect for "lunatics and masochists." The 151-mile race is held over six days, so participants run nearly the equivalent of a marathon each day. Not only that, but the runners have to carry all of their equipment with them -- think backpacks, clothing, shoes and food. Tents and water are provided by the organizers. The athletes have to deal not only with the distance, but the heat, sun and sand as well.

While Madonna is certainly in good shape, the demands of an ultramarathon -- especially one that takes place in the Sahara Desert -- are not to be taken lightly. Participants train for months or even years, building up to lengthy long runs and training to run with a backpack. The actual distance may vary -- the British representative claims the race is 151 miles, while the American representative states the race is 145 miles. Once you get to that distance, what's a few extra miles? If all this sounds like a good time to you, the entrys only $3,950.

South African Adventurers - Mike Horn

South African Mike Horn is acknowledged as one of the world’s greatest modern adventurer-explorers. He has undertaken exceptional feats of endurance, determination and courage which have extended the boundaries of human achievement.

Born in Johannesburg, he studied Human Movement Science at Stellenbosch University before moving to Switzerland where he became an instructor for an outdoor company offering extreme activities such as abseiling, hydrospeed, canyoning and rafting. There he developed a taste for outlandish challenges and shortly afterwards descended on hydrospeed the Mont Blanc glacier finishing at the French Riviera.
Mike Horn’s first expedition of long duration was in 1997 and was called the AmazonExpedition. This was a solo, un-motorized traverse of the South American continent. Mike Horn left from the west coast of South America on

foot, climbing from the Pacific Ocean up in altitude to the summit of Mt Mismi, the source of the Amazon River. Mike Horn followed the entire length of the river, hunting and living in autonomy along the river banks in the evenings , and swimming down the river with a hydrospeed during the day . Mike Horn left the Amazon river and swam into the salty Atlantic Ocean 6 months later.

In 1999, Mike Horn left a new challenge called Latitude Zero, the circumvolution of the world around the equator. On June 2nd, he waved goodbye to his family and traversed the Atlantic Ocean from Gabon, on the west coast of Africa, to Brazil, on a 28ft trimaran. Brazil to Ecuador, he crossed on foot, bicycle and canoe, traversing the Amazon jungle and the high altitudes of the Andes. Afterwards he crossed the Pacific Ocean to Indonesia, passing the Galapagos Islands. Journeying through Borneo and Sumatra on foot, through the jungles, and sailing with his trimaran, he then continued across the Indian Ocean. The last leg of the expedition took Mike Horn across the African continent on foot, through the drug zone areas of the Congo, and through to Gabon, where he arrived at his starting point on October 28, 2000 - 18 months later.

Mike Horn became a worldwide personality in 2000 after completing this solo journey around the equator without motor transport.

Mike Horn achieved yet another staggering feat of human endurance in October 2004 when he completed a two-year, 3 month solo circumnavigation of the Arctic Circle - by boat, kayak, ski kite and on foot. Starting and finishing at North Cape in Norway, he became the first man to travel the Arctic Circle without motorized transport, completing an unimaginable 20,000km journey through Greenland, Canada, Alaska, the Bering Strait and Russia's Siberia, pulling a kevlar sledge piled with 180kg of equipment and food. This Arctic adventure called Arktos earned him nomination for the ‘2005 Laureus World Alternative Sportsperson of the Year Award’.

In 2006, Mike Horn and Norwegian explorer Borge Ousland, became the first men to travel without dog or motorized transport to the North Pole during the permanent darkness of the Arctic months, reaching their goal on March 23, 2006 after 60 days and 5 hours. The men started from Cape Artichesky in Russia, using skis, pulling sleds and swimming frequently in the freezing Arctic Ocean.

2007 presented a new opportunity for Mike Horn, the Himaliya Expedition. He was asked to accompany three experienced Swiss climbers on an expedition in Pakistan. Wanting to gain more experience in mountaineering Mike Horn found it hard to refuse. After two months Mike Horn successfully reached the summit of two peaks higher than 8’000m - Gasherbrum I (8035m) and Gasherbrum II (8068m) without the use of any additional oxygen.

Mike Horn has ventured twice on expedition with his family. The first expedition was in 2005, when they crossed Bylot Island on ski and the second expedition was on ski from Barneo base to the North Pole. Thanks to the experience of this remarkable explorer, Mike Horn’s two daughters, Annika and Jessica (born ’93, ’94) are now the two youngest children to ever ski to the North Pole in temperatures of around -35°C.

Mike Horn is unique. His experience of the oceans, rivers, mountains, swamplands, tundra, ice, jungles, deserts, make him stand out above any other modern day explorer. With this experience behind him, he is now ready to start a new chapter in his life - to share and pass on his knowledge to the younger generation, to share his experiences and to educate the youth about the beauty of our planet and how we can preserve it.

Mike Horn has a simple philosophy to explain his extraordinary challenges:"The impossible exists only until we find a way to make it possible."

South African Adventurers - Riaan Manser

Riaan Manser is a solo-adventurer, based in South Africa. Riaan was the first person to circumnavigate the African continent by bicycle - 37,000km through 34 countries in two years and two months. In July 2009 he successfully became the first person to kayak 5000km around Madagascar, alone and unaided.

In September 2003 Riaan began his epic cycle journey from The Waterfront in Cape Town, South Africa. He travelled north along the western coast of Africa, and hugged the coastline

as closely as possible. He originally believed he would be able to complete the journey in one year, thereby adopting the expedition name 'Africa365'. In December 2005 Riaan Manser crossed the finish line back in Cape Town, clocking a staggering 37,000km and having visited 34 countries, including all of those on Africa's coast. Remarkably, Riaan never paid a single cent in bribe money. Instead of giving over zealous immigration officials or police the satisfaction of a bribe, Riaan would search for an alternative route or method to pass.

His resulting book 'Around Africa on my bicycle' is a best-seller. I am currently reading this book!

His stated reason for the trip was "My vision is to assist the African Renaissance by cycling around the entire coastline of Africa. In doing so, I hope to generate both local and international awareness of just how dire the standard of living is in Africa. My aim is not to change the world, but to give this continent’s upliftment schedule a shot in the arm through education. Education of not only the children I will meet along the way, but also of the powers-that-be both here in South Africa and abroad."

He was honoured with the "Adventurer of the Year" Award in 2006 by Out There Magazine, and Nelson Mandela personally requested a meeting with Riaan, at which Riaan presented Mandela with a photo of himself on a bicycle in Dakar.

Riaan Manser has just become the first person to kayak around Madagascar, alone and unaided. Madagascar is the world's fourth largest island with a coastal perimeter of 5000 kilometres. Riaan began his expedition, paddling north in an anti-clockwise direction, from Tamatave on the eastern coast in August 2008. The journey took around ten months. Riaan completed the journey on July 8 2009.

'Every day, millions of people get up and make the most of even the harshest situation. Those sitting on their butts, only complaining, get nothing. Results come from action. Think about it...' No Food For Lazy Man is Riaan Manser's personal brand. He was struck by the slogan when he saw it in Nigeria and recreated it as a number plate on the back of his bicycle.

South African Adventurers - Kingsley Holgate

Kingsley Holgate is a modern day African Explorer in the tradition of the first Victorian adventurers.

In the past decade he's led multiple expeditions throughout the continent traveling by foot, canoe, bicycle, inflatable raft, dhow and Land Rover. He's dealt with bandits, dangerous wildlife and many bouts of malaria to follow in the footsteps of his hero David Livingstone. With his trademark bushy gray beard, Kingsley is often photographed with a traditional Zulu calabash, which he fills with water to inaugurate each trip. The calabash is taken on the adventure and upon successful completion, the water is poured out in a thanksgiving ritual.

The Zulus call Kingsley “Nondwayisa uya Shinga” - the African Lilly Trotter – a water bird that stalks the rivers of Africa on long legs. Quite an apt name for someone who has become one of Africa’s greatest present day explorers. Unlike many of Africa’s early explorers who had

scant regard for local tribes, etiquette and custom, Kingsley has immersed himself in African cultures especially that of the Zulu. Kingsley is a founder member of Shakaland, South Africa’s leading Zulu cultural attraction, a living museum situated in the heart of Zululand. Kingsley has spent much of his life exploring the African Continent in the footsteps of the early explorers (see his latest book, Africa In The Footsteps of the Greatest Explorers). The first of which was an epic journey from Cape to Cairo, in inflatable boats and back-up four wheel drive vehicles, along Africa’s major waterways – registered with the Royal Geographical Society as a World First.

Considered a bit of David Livingstone himself Kingsley Holgate the Grey Beard of African Adventure is one of Africa’s most colourful Modern day Explorers. Well known on local and National Geographic Television, Kingsley is also a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and a well-known author. His adventures many of which are world firsts include his son Ross and wife Gill. As a family they completed a 1993 Cape to Cairo journey in open boats, the Zambezi and Congo Rivers in the footsteps of Livingstone and Stanley and a circumnavigation of Lake Turkana theworld’s largest desert lake. Following in the footsteps of the early explorers the Holgate family has survived countless attacks of Malaria, the threat of bandits, wild animals and the danger of unexploded landmines.

Called ‘Extreme Latitude’ and travelling on foot, by bicycle, bullock cart, dugout and Land Rover Kingsley Holgate and his adventurous family have circumnavigated the world by land following the Tropic of Capricorn, a journey that became a seven part series on the National Geographic channel was highlighted in the Captain Morgan commercial and resulted in a successful book called “Following The Invisible Line – Capricorn”.

Their most recently completed Odyssey was called the African Rainbow Expedition. A journey by Land Rover convoy, Arab sailing dhow and inflatable boats up the East Coast of Africa from Durban to the Somali border and back. This One Net One Life expedition in which tens of thousands of mosquito nets were distributed to pregnant mothers and children under the age of five was the most successful ever undertaken in Support of Malaria Prevention.

I am an African!

I have a passion for my country and its people. Africans have a spirit like no other people, we are diverse and love the land that is our home.


I will do a 3 part post of South African adventurers that I admire!

Nkosi Sikelel`iAfrica!

Roll on September!

September, my absolute favourite month(except for April which is my birthday month!) of the year. Every year back home in South Africa, September marks the beginning of spring time, and this is celebrated throughout the country as a new beginning. Everything is springing back to life after a long cold winter and everywhere people are celebrating this and you can smell the new life in the air.

Living here in Dubai is very different to home, this time of the year the summer is slowly creeping away and unlike other parts of the world we are welcoming the winter to return to the Gulf. The summers here are long and unforgiving with many dusty and humid days. I am so stoked this summer is almost out the back door, but also very greatful that this has been a relatively easy summer to content with! Roll on winter!

Well, at this stage of September I am not too stoked as this will be a bit of a heavy month for me. Firstly, my trusted of Ipod Nano has said cheerio, see you later due to sweat and humidity! The last ever song I listened to on my Ipod was the Crash Tests Dummies `s Superman song, will miss you lots Ipod! Thanks for the hours of entertainment and keeping me company on the road! Hope I can find a suitable replacement for ya!

Secondly, I have to pay a 1000 Euros deposit as part on my next instalment and so far no sponsors have come on board. I hope this change soon as I am meeting a media representative next week and I will also feature in the next edition of the Express news paper. Come on Murry and Roberts, help out a fellow South Africa!!

Thirdly, I had a sunspot removed from my head yesterday. For a couple of weeks this has been itchy and the dermatologist suggested we removed it and have it tested to make sure it is not a bady. I now have a 4 stitch long cut on the back off my pip and had to shave all my hair! I must say I was a bit shocked when I saw the sizs of the skin removed from my head, about the same size as my thumb nail......Eina.

I am not allowed to get any sweat in the cut till Wednesday at least so now running , I hope things get a bit better soon! I need to run!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Lost in the Desert.....

This is one of my favorite MDS stories!In 1994 Italian runner Mauro Prosperi got lost while running the MDS....This is his story!

Mauro Prosperi is an Italian police officer and modern pentathlete whose story of survival in the Sahara Desert in 1994 made him a hero in his native country.Prosperi, a keen endurance runner, took part in the 1994 Marathon des Sables (Marathon of the Sands) in Morocco. Part way through the 6-day 233 kilometre event a sandstorm caused Prosperi to lose his way.

He ended up disoriented and ran in the wrong direction, ultimately running several hundred kilometres into Algeria. After 36 hours he ran out of food and water. He survived by drinking his own urine and eating bats resident in an abandoned mosque and the occasional snake found in the desert.

Not wishing to die a long drawn out death, Prosperi attempted to commit suicide in the mosque by slitting his wrists with a pen knife he had with him. The attempt failed - lack of water had caused Prosperi's blood to thicken and clotted the wound before he died.After nine days alone in the desert he was found by a nomadic family and taken to an Algerian military camp and from there to a hospital. He was 186 miles (299 km) off route, and reportedly had lost between 30 and 40 pounds (18 kg) in body weight.His story of survival was later covered in a National Geographic Channel documentary entitled Expeditions To The Edge: Sahara Nightmare.

This account is somewhat disputed by Patrick Bauer - the organiser of the Marathon des Sables. In the book Marathon des Sables, he says that Mauro could have only walked 100 km before being picked up as he would never have been able to do hundreds of kilometres with the water he had.

Mauro also apparently initially said that no attempt was made to rescue him - denied by Patrick who says that they used 3 helicopters, a light aircraft, half the staff and local berbers to try to find him.Mauro tried to enter again but was refused by Patrick in 1995 and 1996. However he was eventually allowed in 1997 and also did it 1998 and 2000.

I will make sure I follow the makers all the way to the end!

210 days to go......