Its hard to believe we are in the second quarter of another crazy year. With lockdown restrictions lifting, we have been able to start running as a club again. This has been such a bonus to us as we can safely mingle and encourage each other along.
There has been a steady flow of people joining in on the runs, and we have tried to be a bit more creative, especially on our Saturday runs, where we have run at various locations for a change of scenery, and they have been well supported. Gerald van Wyk has joined the road captaincy team and it has been beneficial to all of us with some new meanders happening. Kevin Hendrikse will definitely get the title of “King of the Mountains” as you are guaranteed of a challenging route when he leads! So, between the team, we try and add to the running experience and cater for all to the best of our ability. We welcome any suggestions or tips, as we try make your training experience a pleasurable one.
Winter is fast approaching, and we have seen a definite change in times with the sun disappearing earlier in the evenings or rising later in the mornings. The roads are not always well lit, so it is vitally important that we are visible to traffic. MIB’s (Men in Black) might look cool and have a slimming effect but it does not help in the dark where you become incognito! “Bright sparks” is the name of the game – wear light, white or bright luminous colours that make you stick out like a sore thumb. Lights on your head or shoes or safety belts are a good investment.
Running the pavements these days has also become a challenge with trenches been dug and rubble on the sidewalks. Please be careful as we are forced to use the roadsides. Single file when traffic approaches and if necessary, stop to allow cars to go past. Not all road users are considerate, so be aware of vehicles at all times. Just this week a cyclist was taken down by a speeding vehicle. We do not need casualties.
With not many races on the calendar, we have tried to have a few longer runs planned to keep us motivated. Comrades are having their virtual run again, and we will train towards this as a club. The options for a 45k, 21 and shorter will be made available and we will work towards having Stella ready by 13th June!
Keep plodding, keep moving! Running is amazing therapy with multiple benefits!
Hello fellow runners, my name is Marie Griffiths. I’m married to Steve and we have two daughters – Casey aged 16 and Jodi 14. With Steve being given an opportunity to work in Singapore, we moved in July 2018.
I joined Stella around 2001 after meeting Steve in 2000. He was a “well seasoned” runner and had been a member of Stella since 1995. We ran countless time trials, races, Marathons and Ultra Marathons proudly for Stella. Even after we moved house from Morningside to Kloof, we chose not to change clubs. Our hearts have always belonged to Stella. Steve and I ran Comrades and Two Oceans together in 2009.
Moving to Singapore was a very exciting time for us. We holidayed here as a family in 2016 before we moved and really enjoyed it. Steve travelled here for work over 50 times before we moved, so Singapore was like a second home to him.
Experiencing life in Asia is very different. Singapore has a strong influence of Chinese, Malay, Indian, and Westerners, making for a mix of traditions and local customs. We recently celebrated the lunar Chinese New Year – 2021 is the Year of the OX. Gong Xi Fa Cai (pronounced gong she fa tsai) means Happy New Year in chinese.
This diversity of culture is also reflected in the many languages spoken here, including English, Mandarin Chinese, Malay, and Tamil. Casey and Jodi are studying Mandarin Chinese at school and both really enjoying the challenge.
With a population of 6 million, Singapore is a small Country/City/Island, measuring 50 km from East to West and 27 km from North to South, with nearly 200 km of coastline. Despite its density and many high-rises, Singapore has an active greening policy, which has covered the island with tropical plants, paths and parks which makes it a pleasure for running. Some running highlights include waterfront running around the beautiful Marina Bay area, the extensive East and West coast parks along the ocean, the iconic Gardens by the Bay, the Mac Ritchie Reservoir and the Bukit Timah Reserve. With the sun rising around 7am and setting at 7pm all year round, many of Singapore’s running spots are well lit. The crime rate is low, so running alone at night or early morning is not a concern at all. Singapore’s location close to the equator makes for the hot, humid and tropical climate with occasional thunderstorms which cool things down…slightly.
Singapore has an excellent public transportation system. The best way to get around is the MRT system (which is a combination of trains, subways, and light rail) and the local buses. Taxis are more expensive but very convenient and available at any hour. We don’t have a car.
My first introduction to running in the ‘heat of Singapore’ was running the “Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon” in Dec 2016. I was training for my 9th consecutive Two Oceans the following April and when I found out the Singapore Marathon was being held the weekend we were visiting Singapore I thought it would be a great training run while sightseeing at the same time.
I was very wrong ! The heat & humidity was like nothing I had ever experienced before. I walked more than expected, taking photo’s of the early morning city lights and eventually the sunrise to pass the km’s while I cooled down and sorted my head out. The marathon started at 4.30am to beat the heat (ha ha). I finished the race with my feet squelching with sweat in my shoes.
Similar to most overseas races, your time only starts and stops when you cross the start & finish line mats. There isn’t a big running club scene here like there is in SA and you don’t have to be part of a club to enter a race, so majority of the runners race in the race vest provided in your race pack. You do however see elite runners either racing or training as groups in club kit.
We get top quality race backpacks and vests which are part of your entry fee as well as a “finishers” T at the finish. The cut is tailored slightly differently for men and woman which is great so it’s not a one size fits all. Coke is not supplied along the route, only cups of 100 plus isotonic drink and water. To be honest, I’m not a great fan of running races here. I find them boring. There are very few spectators along the route to cheer you on (the races are held so early before the sun rises), you don’t know any of the other runners to chat with along with way, most have headphones so they wouldn’t hear you anyway and its dark so you don’t even get to enjoy the sights.
With nearly 3 years having passed since we moved here, my body has definitely acclimatised to the heat. The temperature gets up to between 37-40 deg C at certain parts of year, so running in a vest instead of a t-shirt is a must ! Drinking water with sachets of rehydrate, wearing a cap and sunblock is a necessity. Unfortunately I have experienced severe dehydration which was not great so I am now very careful with keeping my electrolytes stable. After the marathon experience, the only distances I have entered have been 10 & 21k races. Further than 21 is just not enjoyable in this heat no matter how fit you are.
Park Runs however are very enjoyable and well attended. They are held every Sat morning at 7.30am in 4 different locations on the island. Steve and I ran our very first Park Run soon after we moved here.
Similar to the rest of the world though – due to COVID, parkrun’s and all road races have been cancelled. The only races available now are virtual. They are free to enter (unless you want to purchase the race t-shirt which gets posted to you).
These are great as you get motivated by entering the race and they can be run when and where it suits you within the specified date period. I enjoy running on my own so these suit me. I have just finished a 168km’s in 21 days race. I tackled it by running 8k’s each day. It was a huge challenge especially in this heat, but I felt really proud of myself for completing it.
When I’m not running virtual races, I tend to stick to 3-4 runs a week of about 5-8kms each run. This seems to keep me fit, keep my mind free but also not deplete me.
My daughters and I also entered and ran the virtual Comrades race last year. They ran 5k each and I ran 10. Comrades was such a big part of our lives when we lived in SA, so we felt proud to be participating in this virtual race. Unfortunately Steve was recovering from a hip replacement operation so he was unable to run with us, but he enjoyed cheering us on outside our house as we ran past.
In closing I would like to thank Sandy for asking me to share my story about our life and running in Singapore. I have really enjoyed reading all the expat stories and look forward to reading new ones too.
To all our Stella friends, we miss our time trial evenings/braai nights and send you all our love.
When you love running as much as I do, it is very difficult to rein yourself in when you need to!
2019 was where it all came together. I had completed the Two Oceans Ultra Marathon as well as the Cape Town Marathon, which was a highlight in my running career. I had achieved two massive goals and nothing could go wrong….or so I thought!!! At the end of that 2019 year I was enjoying a training run, a week prior to the DHS 10km. After the run I could feel a niggle in my right knee but didn’t want to overthink it although it didn’t seem to want to go away.
The day of the DHS 10km arrived, I was still sore. My wife said rest, 10km is not worth an injury, BUT I had to run. So off I went and unfortunately near the end as I entered the Crusaders ground my knee locked and it was over. After lots of rest the swelling subsided but I still couldn’t run. I went to my specialist and had an MRI scan which confirmed I needed an op.
It was a slow, long haul that for me felt like forever. All I wanted to do was hit the road but even a walk was too much. After many motivational talks on my wife’s part, I listened and rested, took it slow and thankfully Stella began a beginners group which I started running with. It was the best thing I could have done. It kept me in check and helped regain the strength I needed to finally get back to where I needed to be, to run again without pain.
The moral of my long story is like running a marathon you need a plan, strength and endurance and this will help you get to the finish line, but life seems to throw curve balls all the time and you need a plan, strength and endurance to get through it as I had to do to get over my injury. Always listen to your body, respect it and rest it when need be, for the love of running!
After moving to Durban in 2018 I never imagined that a simple “Running Clubs Near Me” google search would lead me to such an amazing club. I felt very welcome and enjoyed every run – meeting new people almost every week and learning from the array of experienced runners the club had and still has at its disposal. I joined the club having never run more than 10kms and grew to a point where I was ready to enter for the 2020 Comrades Marathon. I loved the Gillies Saturday run and the morning weekday runs, with one of my highlights being getting the crown on the “Avenues” segment (sorry Tawanda!).
At the end of 2020 I moved to the sunny and tropical shores of the Cayman Islands. And being a running enthusiast, I had already bought my running gear and researched the running routes and races. After 2 weeks of quarantine I was ready to do my first run on the island – which turned out to be super hard as the heat and humidity was unbearable. I could not run more than 4kms. My second run was a disaster too; as after a wrong turn I found myself jogging on beach sand. I had to cancel my run and salvage whatever was left of my calves and quads.
As time passed by, I quickly climatized to the humidity and got familiar with the routes, and my runs got a lot better. I had to strategically position my runs either between 5 – 7AM or 6 – 8PM; hydrate constantly; and I was advised that I need to carry an electrolyte drink for all runs longer than an hour – and because of the sweating I was more susceptible to chafing. At the end of January, I laced up my trainers for a half marathon which I enjoyed – and I hope to do many more in this new territory.
There is a large running community on the island which made the runner in me settle in pretty quickly. I do however miss the “Go Stella” cheers from strangers during a race, and the relief you get when you see the club tent at the finish line. I hope that one day I can realize my dream of completing the Comrades in the Stella colours.
We arrived to a freezing cold London on the 10th of January having left a scorching hot Durban in our shorts and slops. We flew over Doha and a change of clothes was definitely required to be ready for the UK weather. We were collected by our taxi and dropped off at our friend’s home in London. Luckily we arrived before the UK government had introduced the new hotel quarantine regulations and therefore we had to isolate in our property for 10 days before we could go out and about. Luckily our friend’s had left an old exercise bike in the shed which we managed to revive and found some spinning class videos on YouTube.
Needless to say, we were very excited to get out and about after our 10 day isolation. The UK is still under a hard lockdown so only essential shops are open i.e. grocery stores. No hairdressers unfortunately, but we could still get our tipple of choice.
I ventured out for my first run and I think the neighbours must have thought I had lost my marbles as I took off down the road in my South African flag print Funky Pants. My second run was quite the experience as it started to sleet and then snow quite heavily when I was still 5 km’s from home. By the time I got back to the house there was a thick blanket of snow. I arrived home to the gleeful screeches of our two boys throwing snowballs at one another. I can also confirm that road running shoes are definitely not the right foot gear for snow running, it was a very slippery run home.
Running in the cold is definitely something to get used to, and coming from SA we had absolutely no gear to keep us warm. My first run out was in 0 degrees and I remember getting home and not being able to feel my legs or toes from the cold. I’ve had to layer up with as much as I can and use buffs around my head to keep my ears warm, but it still takes a good few km’s just to feel your hands and toes. Dodging the sneaky black ice has also been quite the experience and I’ve had a few near misses. It is safe to say that I will never complain about running in heat and humidity again!
Running on my own has taken some getting used to and a really miss all the laughs, chit chats and motivation that comes with running in a group. We have both noticed what an effect heat has on your running ability/speed. Having taken about 30 seconds/km off our normal running time and it is definitely not down to fitness. Running is also really safe as there are sidewalks along all the roads so it is very rare that you need to run on the road.
We’ve had some great runs through parks and open spaces and have enjoyed the change of scenery. However, we get quite homesick when seeing the routes and pictures being shared on the Stella WhatsApp groups and Strava. We miss those early morning sunrises along the Durban promenade and the coffee after our morning runs, but particularly miss the camaraderie that Stella had and how it brought people from all walks of life, ages and ethnic groups together!
We look forward to joining a running club over here once the lockdown eases but it will be very difficult to match the many special friendships and bonds made over the years at Stella.
For the love of running I agreed to write something in the hope that my story will inspire some of you who might be struggling physically or mentally and also just to give a glimpse of what it´s like running in different conditions.
Now an Expat living in Switzerland, I maintain my Proudly South African status with pride. I must say, as much as it is a privilege to experience different countries and cultures, and it being a crucial factor to opening ones eyes and seeing the world from a different perspective, “you will never really truly have a sense of home until you leave home” – Unknown. I have no greater pride than when I tell the Swiss about my country and our people. Having said that, the process of leaving my country was gut wrenching and although it gets a little easier every day, there are still days filled with emptiness and no sense of belonging and this is where my running gets me through every time!
Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin.
I wanted to put this verse in because I think about it every time I feel that my insignificant 2k walk or seriously slow 10k run just to keep going is not going to amount to anything, I remind myself that it all ads up and as long as I keep going, then I am doing better than nothing.
So far my greatest achievement is that I have kept going.
Honestly, I have not done a lot of running since I arrived in Switzerland but enough to be able to share with you about some of my challenges, adjustments, and experiences.
Since I arrived in Switzerland in Summer, the temperatures were not a problem, but the change in altitude humbled me in the beginning to say the least. I knew there would be challenges adjusting to the higher altitude, but I did not know what to expect physically.
Interlaken is located some 566m above sea level compared to Durban´s 8m. That is a significant difference in altitude to adjust to. My first couple of runs was uncomfortable. I experienced altitude sickness for the first time, with symptoms such as shortness of breath, dizziness, nausea, and headaches. Needless-to-say, I had to ease into it. It didn´t take long, but I just started with brisk walking and shorter, slower runs to strengthen my lungs and re-regulate my breathing. Once I adjusted to these conditions, running became a pleasure again.
Then came my first Winter…I had been dreading it to be honest, not knowing what to expect physically and I worried about loosing fitness, thinking I would probably not run as regularly as what I am used to. And I didn´t, but again I eased into it slowly.
I clearly did not have suitable gear for below zero temperatures. Until I could figure out what fabrics they use to combat the Winter bite, this is what I wore:
Long tights and sweatpants over that, a vest, long sleeve running shirt, a sweater, and a jacket, 3 pairs of socks (rather toit), gloves, a beanie, and a neck buff. My eyes watered from the sting of the cold air, although it is possible that I was crying, and my nose ran faster than me. I still have no idea how I actually managed to run with all that clothing on. Also, running on snow and ice has been both scary and funny when you don´t have the correct footwear. Finding shoes and grips suitable for icy conditions are crucial to prevent injury. I have since adjusted quite well to the weather conditions and acquired suitable running gear which makes a big difference. Now I love running in Winter.
I never minded running on my own but when I became part of the Stella family, I grew quite fond of training with my comrades and when I got to Switzerland I had to run alone and I still do for now. No, I can´t run with my Husband because I can´t keep up Being part of Stella made a big difference in my life and to my running. There are running clubs in the bigger towns and cities, but where we are, most people are pretty much each to their own. Perhaps I will start a little group when Aunty Rona gives us the thumbs up.
The title sounds great, the scenery is fantastic but getting out the front door remains a Durbanites biggest challenge. Running in winter is not for the faint hearted. I understand why many people prefer treadmills when temperatures fall below zero.
However, once you on the road, it can be one of the most rewarding experiences. Running alongside the rivers and lakes, between the snowcapped mountains is all worth it.
For winter running, some of the challenges include:
Getting your layers right! It’s easy to pile on layers based on temperatures but what we need to consider is our bodies running temperature. Rule of thumb is normally add 10 degrees to accommodate your bodies temperature.
Wearing the correct shoes, especially in icy conditions is critical. Specific winter shoes with special treads are available. We have invested in wrap around studs for icy conditions. However, get it wrong with your footing and you can potentially land on your ass!
Running strides shorten due to slippery conditions. Balance is essential and looking at every step you take to ensure footing is secure.
Hydration even in cold conditions. All the water fountains we use in summer are frozen or closed. We need to know where water is along the routes or have the option to run with a backpack.
All the extras: beany or balaclava/buff, gloves and wind jacket. Be prepared for changing conditions.
Understanding your body and performance. Bodies require more oxygen in colder conditions, but it’s also important to “read” your body and know how your lungs and muscles react to the colder conditions.
So, what makes running in winter special? Without a doubt the snow. There’s something magical about embracing a run in the cold and on snow.
Also having fresh snowflakes fall on your face is worth all the effort to get out and go for a run.
Running in winter tests your will power. Without a doubt it takes plenty willpower to get out but once you on the road, it all systems go.
However, you cannot let the weather get to you, otherwise it can easily turn in a 3-4 month break.
What do we miss? Without the Stella and KZN runners. It’s not the same without the friendships and banter on the road. Generally, people don’t run in big groups. So its plenty solo running here.
What the 2021 plan? Hopefully races will happen this year. Plan to run Zurich marathon in April and then our local race, the Jungfrau marathon in September. For this one, it requires a lot hill training. The second half has crazy elevation changes. Total elevation gain is around 1’800m.
Last words? We live in challenging times. No matter where we are in the world, plenty uncertainty remains. Mental health is critical. So, let’s support and encourage each other. Whether your run or walk, get on the road and release those endorphins. Let’s come out of this pandemic stronger!
I ran with Stella for 9 years before moving to Brisbane, Australia in 2019. My running career with Stella included 6 Comrades medals ( 2 Bill Rowans ), 2 Ultra marathons, 22 Marathons.
Starting running in a new country without a running club has been challenging. Being involved in a club gives you the support and the momentum to keep pushing your self and staying committed. This is where the challenge has come in as I struggled to keep my momentum going without anyone to keep me accountable. Needless to say I miss everyone at Stella.
I did give a running club a try here but the way the club works and the club culture was not the same. I am still open to trying other clubs here and always keep an eye open for others. However in the recent year I found a running in partner and used the time during Covid to work on our running as all gyms were closed. This was the boost and time I needed to build my motivation and my running fitness.
I’ve managed to improve my speed, fitness and found a routine that works for me. On a weekly basis I run 3-4 times a week and aim to reach 40kms a week. Thank you to my stella friends who have encouraged and supported me from a far.
Road running is great fun, and especially when we run as a club, at training runs, races or even alone, there is a running law to adhere to for one’s safety. There have been too many incidences of late, and for new runners as well as experienced runners, it’s good to be reminded of running etiquette.
Always run into oncoming traffic, so that you and drivers are aware of each other. The only time it is advisable to run with the traffic is if there is a foot path on that side only. We don’t need to play dodgem cars and chicken!
You need to be able to hear what is going on around you. Avoid running with earpieces in your ears and music blaring in your brains. If you really have to, turn it down and only wear one ear piece, so that you can be aware of your surroundings. Most races do not allow it.
“Light and bright at night”! Especially during winter, you need to be visible! MIB’s (Men in Black) might be cool, but you are not visible! These days you get really great running tops that are reflective, and just plain white T’s is also advisable.
If you intend changing direction, cross a road, or come to an intersection make sure you signal clearly where you intend going. Often drivers are looking right to cross into a road you are in, they do not see you coming and many a runner has met a car by accident. Rather run around vehicles than presume that you have been seen.
Early birds and late runners need to be very aware of drivers who could be fatigued or under the influence. Some drivers have no respect for runners, and they own the road rather than share it. We too need to realise that we don’t have exclusive rights to the road either and have to either run in the verge or preferably on the pavement. Rather assume that all drivers are bad and have not seen you. Be safe not sorry!
Be courteous and acknowledge drivers who have made an effort to give way to your athletic efforts. Swearing and cursing drivers is a no no! We also have to honour our club – we want to draw people not chase them away!
If you are not well or intend to cut short, please let someone know so that runners don’t wait for a no show. We have had an incident where a new runner collapsed and it could have been serious if it were not for a guardian angel who came to her rescue. Run responsibly!
Sadly, these days, running alone is not always an option. There have been numerous accounts of runners being accosted, and some not so nice experiences. If you have no alternative, make sure you run in daylight and on roads that are popular to avoid unwanted company. Ideally join us at Stella or run with a mate, and make sure your route is known to the special people in your life.
With the challenges of Covid, be responsible and look after yourself and your running mates. Its not compulsory to wear a mask while training, but afterwards – be safe, not sorry!
These few simple points can make your running experience a lot more pleasurable. Let’s arrive alive and in one piece, and come back for more tar therapy because we can!!
So, with great dreams and hopes, 2020 was going to be a year to be remembered with all the goals I wanted to achieve. Trying to top 2019 was going to be a tough ask, but hey, if your dreams don’t scare you, you’re not living…
2020 will always be known for Covid19 and the year the world nearly shut down. To Runners it will always be remembered as the year Garmin was down for 3 days 😊
So, my first challenge for the year was to do a Triathlon, and going to visit my wife in Qatar seemed like the perfect place to do one, nobody to see me thrash, splash and panic swim my way in the ocean, then get onto a bike “Gasp” runners don’t free wheel… and then run how hard could it be. Well, don’t believe anybody when they say the desert does not get cold, I happened to visit during the coldest winter in 20 years. I should have realised there was an omen on the brew…
Race day arrives, I’m ready to race and my hire bike is nowhere to be found. Panic! 20 minutes before the start it arrives with a flat tyre. More Panic! No problem for another bike hire company, they see this and take the wheel of my hire bike and replace it with one of theirs, such awesome customer service. I now go off to the pens and am stressing only for this awesome lady to come to me and says, “Ahh Stella, are you from Durban?” I was wearing my new Stella Club T-Shirt. Relief knows no bounds, she said she’s from Toti but lives in Doha now and will sort my stuff out and took my bike my kit bag and chased me off to start the swim. (2 minutes before the start)
In brief, I get to the doc, and jump into the water, and just about died, 17c. I should have worn the wetsuit. Anyways 850m later, on the 750m swim I get the end and drag my sorry frozen self out of the water. The life savers seemed relieved as I thought they were going to jump in after me a few times… My angel from Toti is waiting for me, to direct me to my bike. I dry off get changed and remembered to put the helmet on, NB don’t forget the helmet, or your race is done. With Meganne cheering on from the side line it was on your bike for 20km.
So, I go as fast as I can, when I say Doha is flat, there is literally no hills, unless it is manmade. I’m in top gear and passing cyclists even some of those on TT Bikes and thinking this is easy. The bike section is done in no time and I think imagine if I could run this fast… I rack the bike, take off the helmet and I hit the road, 5km in the bag! Well, let me tell you a little story, that none of the Triathletes I spoke to for advice told me about. You need to rest your legs before the end of the bike, or they turn to jelly. For the first 3km, someone else’s legs were running for me, don’t know who, but thank you anyway. I was so fast, in those other persons legs, Meganne did not even see me finish.
After the adventure in Qatar, it was back home, to run Loskop and Tour D’ Durban a week later, all carefully coordinated by Craig George, ensuring I’m resting, training following the coach’s orders. Then we heard those dreaded words, “My Fellow South Africans”
Level 5 and the start of garden running, well thank the Lord for Trail Running as this is exactly what it was, round and around and around you would go. 5km is 45 minutes, like what on earth. Anyway this continues, Loskop is cancelled, then Oceans and we stay locked up. So, Debbie Wessels gets a bright idea and challenges me to run 42,2km around my house for her Cape Town Spending money, to donate to a charity of my choice. Mmmm, Ok, let raise some funds for those that are really struggling through these extraordinary times. The big day arrives and I start out and I run, and run, change direction and run, my dog Captain starts running with me but decides after about 5 minutes, this is crazy. I messaged Debbie about three hours into the run just on 20km to say this is madness and she calmly replies, you got this! Seven hours and fifty odd minutes later 479 laps around the house I finish with a swan dive into the pool. Note for future races in 2025, a pool to finish in is a great idea. Total raised for charity R10k!
Eventually Level 4 and Level 3 came to be, and we could venture out the yards and into the streets. Well who know there were so many dog walkers and runners in Glenwood. It was fantastic to see people and the some of those new faces are still at it.
Comrades was still up in the air and then boom cancelled and many a roadie’s heart was broken. That Comrades Dream, gone! Fear not along came Virtual Races and Comrades had a great idea, run, just not the race and run it from anywhere, just stay safe. I must admit, that although it will never compete with the vibe of Comrades, the trot up Botha’s Hill to The Wall and back with all the other runners on the road, was special. 21.1km Comrades, might be a great idea for the future.
I decided it was time to run an international event and what a better race than that of The Hawaii Marathon. So training started in earnest, with the help of the Stella Morning Group, known as the “Early Birds” keeping Stella out of any liabilities with the you know who. Nobody else was going to run, so I mapped out a route, Surf Riders to Umhlanga and back would be along the coast and give a semi feel of the tropical island of Hawaii. Then Alistair Green offered to come and run with Petra as our support on 27km. This was going to be a race with no water tables, time starts and only stops at the end. The day started off overcast and things were looking up, first 10km in an hour, and we work our way to The Pier, a quick photo shot as one does and we turn for home.
By this time Durban decides to show off and the sun comes out blazing. Alistair kept say, on the way back, Petra will be at Caltex in Forest Drive with refreshments, and we could not wait to get there fast enough. A well-deserved 10-minute break change of shirt, food and cold drinks, and it was 15km to go, home stretch. As we all know too well that promenade can be brutal, the last 8km was no hell, but know there was a huge Chocolate Milkshake at the end was the reward. Hawaii Completed 4:42 and change, two very happy Stella runners.
Running it a great fun and running with friends makes it so much more fun. Always find a friend that will be willing to deal with your whinging, has a sense of humour and will encourage you to keeping going.
Then a friend of mine in Pretoria messaged me to say why don’t we do a trail run in the mountains, seeing that these races are open. We looked and found one in December enough time to trail, only 40km and 1600m of elevation. Pat Freeman told me about Norther Drakensberg Trail last year, that she ran and loved it. #DNT2020 it was going to be.
On Saturday the 5th of December my good friend Jenny Cairns from Irene Running Club started the daunting task of #DNT2020. Knowing that this was an Andrew Booth race, KZN Trail Running, it would be spectacular but tough. Stella was well represented with Shantelle and Brett Walters, Pat Freeman and Margie all taking on the 20km event as well.
The day started off cold, wet and misty, a blessing is disguise as we never really saw what lay ahead of us. Sometimes the mist was so thick, we had to search for the markers to proceed forward. Jenny and I started off nicely, evenly paced, and we banked on 8kph, we should have more than enough in the bag for the 11H30 (6 Hour Cut Off on 25km) Boy were we wrong! We climbed, climbed some more and then climbed again, trying not to walk off the ridge to certain pain and death! Roadies, I’m being dramatic, trail running is the best running to improve your road running, I promise, take it from a runner that could barely break 7 minute a kilometre two years back.
We got to the 25km mark with 30 minutes to spare, time for a break, food at the aid station before taking on Vultures Pass. (460m long, 179m high and 24 minutes of climbing at 38% gradient)
By this time, it was bucketing down with rain but eventually we get to the top and start working our way back to the start. The mist slowly started to lift and the sun game out to reveal the Sterkfontein Dam in all its glory on our left and The Royal Natal Park on our right. The beauty can’t be described in words, not by me anyway.
We found a straggler from Durban Old Boys, and he tagged along for the last 14km that felt like an eternity, we were convinced that we would be stone last, but it was not about where you finished, but finishing the challenge that counts. When the results came out, we were only 5th from last, to a good result none the less 😊 Race Result: 40,5km in a time of 09:36:12 and 1970m of Elevation!
As the year draws to an end, and the uncertainty that the future holds with regards to races next year, I would like to thank all my running friends and supporters for being there for me this year. To all my fellow Stella friends and running friends from elsewhere, my advice is pick something that scares you, set the goal, enter, train and always wear sun screen!