I'm not a natural blogger and I'm no techie. I'm an ultra trail runner by passion, and a journalist by profession - in that order of priority.
In this blog I use the one to talk about the other - my trail thoughts, musings and meanderings about running mountains and trails.
I call it rockhoppin', just because... well... that's what we trail runners love to do!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

No time? It's the lamest excuse of all!

Those lines: “Gee, I really wish I could start running... but I just don’t have time...”

We’ve all heard it said, and we’ve all chuckled.

But sometimes I hear it said with such sincerity that I struggle to laugh it off – and I marvel that the person saying it actually believes it.

I wonder if they think that we runners run because we’ve got bags of free time on our hands?? As if we’ve got nothing else to do, so hey, let’s take up running!

Over the years I’ve come across so many runners who, in a determined effort to fit in their training, juggle their time to make sure they do their daily – or three times weekly, whatever it may be – trot. And ironically, it’s often runners who have the busiest schedules of all.

I know of mums who refuse to be restricted by wet nappies and Baby’s yodelling by simply popping said Baby into stroller and dashing out for a speedy 5km zip around the neighbourhood.

I’ve met high-powered business people who could say they don’t have the time or the energy to run, but instead prioritise their lunch hours for a session on the treadmill or a city run in the sun.

Then there was the couple who, finding themselves stuck for two days in a foreign airport during a host of airline industry strikes, helped to pass the time by doing twice-daily 8km runs back and forth along the highway to the airport.

And the good friend of mine who has to travel to London on business every month for five days at a time – rather than bemoan the fact that most of the time the temperature in the UK is way too damn cold to run in, and that her busy work schedule wouldn’t allow it anyway, she simply sets her alarm clock astonishingly early each morning while she’s there, pulls on all her winter woollies and heads out for her 10km run through the business heart of London in the pre-dawn darkness.

I once met a marine biologist who was training for his first marathon. He’d built up from zero fitness to marathon level over a period of eight steady months, despite having to spend six of those months on a research vessel based on Dassen Island. How did he manage to train? Some days he ran around the boat, and other times he ran round and round Dassen Island – much to the utter amazement of the penguins!

Time is a relative thing. It’s always in short supply. But it’s how you use it that determines what you get from it.

And if we want something badly enough, we’ll make the time to do it.

So the next time you hear someone telling you how they’d sooo LOVE to start running but they just don’t have the time, know that it’s actually nothing to do with time at all... the truth is simply that they just don’t WANT to start running.

And that’s their loss.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

wild and wet Western Cape

Winter in southern Africa is the dry season – several months of cloudless blue-grey hazy skies stretched over vast expanses of veldt, all shades of textured browns and golds, dusty roads winding into forever and thick, burnt-orange sunsets seeing dusk turn to night.

< ...heavy stuff, I know, but bear with me... >

But the Western Cape is not that same Africa. It’s very much its own Africa – still wild, still harsh, but completely different from the rest of the continent. In winter the Western Cape blossoms – it glows in soft, wet abundance in as many shades of green and gold as the rest of the continent has ochres and browns.

Winter officially arrived in the Western Cape in May. At least that’s what the newspapers told us. But winter really arrived this past weekend, and in no half measures. An icy cold front moved across the peninsula on Saturday, tearing temperatures down to single figures and sending our World Cup tourists shivering for their waterproofs.

But while roadies run for cover when winter hits, trail runners welcome trail season! Sure, we run trails all year round, but for Kaapies true trail happens in winter. For us real trail means mist and rain, sloshing through puddles, slipping on moss-covered rocks, and picking our way carefully up what the rains have made into rivers.

It’s wet, it’s wild and it’s true Cape trail.
Here’re a few photos I took on my run this afternoon - the mountain is gushing waterfalls where just last week there wasn't even water :-)

Friday, June 11, 2010

footie fever!

World Cup 2010 is finally upon us - today's the day!

There're so much excitement here in South Africa, there's exuberance on every street corner and the place is rocking! If ever there was a day when I'd become more excited about soccer than trail running, then today's that day.

And to try and put the energy South Africans have today into words is not something I'd be able to do even half as well as a good friend of mine did this morning. So, I know he won't mind if I crib his words - I just think he put it in a nutshell:

"Goooooooooooal-isimo! No more sleeps! It's finally here! The greatest spectacle in world sport is upon us and the country's bursting with excitement!     Vuvuzelas, guguzelas, kuduzelas, gorgonzolas, makarapas, diski dance, flags fluttering wildly, exuberantly, passionately, from every location imaginable - street poles, buildings, buses, cars, taxis, bikes, trolleys, dustbins, caps, hats - the heartbeat of a miracle nation!    What a sight to behold, experience, enjoy and embrace!  

Thanks Marcel! (",)

Today, more than ever, is a day to be Proudly South African!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

What's not possible?

I read a quotation today that grabbed me. That’s what great quotations are meant to do, sure, but some just don’t crack it. For me, this one did:

“Unless a man undertakes more than he possibly can do, he will never do all that he can.”

It got me thinking about the barriers we build, and the limitations that we all set ourselves. So many things are said to be not just out of reach but not humanly possible. And yet so often these are merely boundaries we set ourselves. The breaking of the four-minute mile was a classic example – for years it was thought to be an impossible feat... until 1954 when Roger Bannister achieved it with his 3:59.40. Since then his record has been shattered time and time again – it’s now almost 17 seconds quicker than Bannister’s time, on 3:43.13. How fast can the mile really be run?

So really, what is impossible? Or rather, what isn’t possible?

Well, how’s this for mind-boggling: Kilian Jornet, a young Spaniard from Catalonia, is a running freak – he’s proving that the impossible can be shattered, and that there should be no such word. This week he’s achieving something that’s never been attempted before – simply because no one ever thought it possible. He’s running the length of the Pyrenees mountain range, from the Altantic to the Mediterranean. That’s 700km of distance, some 40 000m of climbing, and his challenge is to achieve this in just 7 days.

The fastest this has ever been done before has been 12 days. Impossible? He’ll prove not.

Who is this guy? Kilian’s a Spanish ski mountaineer, an ultra-distance trail runner (no, dah..), a mountain biker and duathlete. He’s a three-time champion of the Skyrunner World Series (2007-09) and twice winner of the Ultra-Trail du Mont Blanc (2008/09).

And he’s just 23 years old.

So if you’re not already following Kilian on his quest across the Pyrenees, best you hop on quick to http://kilianjornet.blogspot.com/2009/04/kilians-quest.html before he beats you to it. He'll be finishing on June 6th.