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!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Grand Raid for Solomon's Haven

On Thursday night, I’ll be lining up at the start of what will undoubtedly be the most difficult race I’ve ever done. It’s the Grand Raid de la Réunion (also known as La Diagonale des Fous – the Diagonal of Madmen), a classic trail 100 miler that’s notorious for its degree of difficulty.  http://www.grandraid-reunion.com/  

Not only does the route cover 165km of extremely rough terrain (crossing the island of Réunion via four volcano craters, high mountains, deep valleys, rivers, shale and apparently a LOT of mud), but the equatorial conditions will make it hot, humid and very testing. The cumulative ascent over the route will be more than 9 600m – almost 1km higher than Everest. The race takes substantially longer than other equally well known international 100 milers, and in fact has a cut-off of 63 hours.

I know you’ll momentarily wonder why on earth I would want to put myself through such mental and physical anguish. But then, I also know you’ll think again and realise it’s me involved here, and this sort of race is exactly what appeals to me! But I really want the effort to achieve a lot more than simply my personal goal of taking on a daunting challenge; I want to put this effort to good use. So, I’m doing the race to raise funds for Solomon’s Haven, an extremely needy cause that many friends know is close to my heart.

Solomon’s Haven is an emergency shelter in Mitchell's Plain, Cape Town, that is home to +/-16 children, all of whom have either been abused, neglected or abandoned by their own families and were referred to the Haven by the Dept of Social Welfare. The organisation seeks to provide a secure and loving environment that focuses on building self-esteem in preparation for the children's eventual healthy integration into society. Solomon's Haven provides a place of safety for children of all ages, from small babies to teenagers, many for a few years, some for just a night or a few days.

Solomon's Haven is a street miracle, plain and simple. It heals souls and changes lives. It's an inspiration to society. And it needs all the help it can get. Without outside assistance, Maria and Alec Solomon are unable to give these children the love and care they so desperately crave.

So I'm doing my Grand Raid de la Reunion to raise funds for Solomon's Haven. I'm using Back-a-Buddy to do so - it provides a quick, simple and secure way of donating, regardless of where you are in the world.

Please support this extremely worthy cause by clicking on this link and simply clicking on the "donate" button: www.backabuddy.co.za/grand-raid-de-la-reunion     Every donation, big or small, makes a huge difference.
Please help me raise as much as we can to help change the lives of these kids.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

A sterling world in miniature

The best thing about having my own blog is that I can write about anything I want. Ninety-nine percent of the time that’s running, but every now and then, something else sneaks in, and this is one of those.

Everyone with a zest for life knows that harnessing that energy and putting it into action is a wonderful thing. Whatever that action is, whether sport, pastime or hobby, it enables exploration, discovery and adventure, liberating growth, joy and progress along a personal journey.

Living the zest for life and making it real is one thing, but capturing the beauty of that zest in dynamic/static movement and form is by no means easy. Many artists think they can, but fall dismally short. They try too hard, and they miss the point – too much shape, colour, noise, fuss. They blow it completely.

But I have a running friend, and a crazy speedster one at that, who is able to capture the beauty and passion of life to the full. He’s a master craftsman known to many in Cape Town and across South Africa for his incredible work, and his professional touch is the beauty and elegance of simplicity.

This blog post is not an advert, but rather my way of sharing what I, and so many others, love about Eric Tollner’s work – each one of his unique creations has a character of its own, and highlights the very essence of living life to the full, and all the ways in which we can!

Every handcrafted piece Eric produces is special – from the rock on which it’s secured, to its meticulous design and careful form. His sculptures are so loved that they’re on trophies, office desks, mantelpieces, bedside-tables, given as awards, gifts or just because their buyers fell head-over-heels in love with the little guys. Every one of the characters are all busy doing what they love to do, and they epitomise Living Life to the Full

There's no way my words can do them justice – here’re some of my favourites, check them out for yourselves:

Gymnasts, paddlers, guitarists, businesspeople, thinkers, swimmers, sharks, divers, pilots, penguins, planes, helicopters...  the list is endless, and Red Earth captures them all. Hop onto Red Earth and enjoy!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

next up: Grand Raid de la Réunion

In 15 days’ time I'll be lined up on the start line of my toughest challenge yet - the 20th running of the Grand Raid de la Réunion. 

Nicknamed La Diagonale des Fous (the diagonal of madmen), this 100 miler cuts a diagonal course from south to north across the Indian Ocean island of Réunion. The extremely technical 162km route boasts it all, from volcanoes and volcanic craters (calderas), to dense forest, mud, rivers, waterfalls, altitude, heat and humidity, this race is about distance, difficulty and digging deep. 

It's said to be one of the toughest 100 milers on the planet. Results of previous years provide a stark comparison with equally well established but far more runnable 100 milers on the international calendar, like Western States and Leadville, and put this one into perspective: in 2011 Kilian Jornet won the WS100 in 15:34, and yet it took him more than seven hours longer to win the Grand Raid the previous year (23:17). That really says it all!

It’s a scary prospect, and I’m frighteningly excited – this promises to be trail running at its extreme.

Click on this link to check out the geography of Réunion: Google Earth view of Réunion