Thursday, 3 July 2014

From Back to Back again...

OK, I got my Back to Back medal. But the other one is not quite the shade I was aiming for. An Achilles injury, no race plan, lack of training and some stupid nutrition mistakes on the route cost me that (Never try anything new on race day.... Yes, I know. But I did.). After struggling through to the end, the first words out of my mouth were the typical " Never again!!" and I meant it this time. I had also said it after finishing my first run last year, but always knew I was going to do an up and a down run.

I have tried very hard to force myself to remember exactly how bad I felt in the last kms before Durban. I have also reminded myself of when I was physically sick climbing up Inchanga and how bad my legs hurt running down Fields hill, as well as the dejection of my sub 11 hour finish passing by as I shuffled along that last long painful run into Durban.

But it seems the Comrades bug has bitten and although I remember all this, it doesn't seem too bad sitting here in my room writing this. I am going for it again and I feel that there's a chance that I might be saying "Never again!" a few more times.

The Comrades has something special that transcends all that and I have tried to explain that to people that haven't run it. And I cant, they all think its crazy. I do too. But nevertheless I'll be there on the starting line on the 31 May 2015, and I'll point myself towards Pietermaritzburg and run till I see that big yellow finish line and Ill say "Never again!" again.

Monday, 14 April 2014

Yes, I know!....

Yes, I have been a bit slack.... I concede that I have been neglecting my blog for a while now. I do have a few excuses though. I am currently studying towards a Diploma in Exercise Science through the HFPA in Johannesburg and have just come to that point where I'm finishing my first year and moving on to the second, I did the Ironman 70.3 in Buffalo City and that claimed up a lot of training time.

Now I'm training for Comrades 2014 and my back to back medal and am well behind... So much so, that I think I should really be out there running instead of writing this, but I am going to get into gear and focus now.
There is so much that I plan to do. 2015 brings with it, the Ironman in Port Elizabeth and I've even had some thoughts about tackling the Duzi canoe marathon in the near future (I've never even sat in a canoe before!). Hey, why not?

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Nike Air Pegasus

Nike recently launched the 30th edition of their popular Air Pegasus running shoes. I can't explain how impressed I am with these shoes. Last year Nike SA gave me a  blue pair of the Shield pack Pegasus 29 shoes and used them to run the 87km long Comrades Marathon in Kwazulu Natal in South Africa.
Many people lose toenails, have serious blisters and various other nasty things happen to their feet on this gruelling race. I am still in awe of the way these handled the race, they performed great, keeping my feet toenailed and blister free, in fact my feet felt brand new after the race (my legs, not so much!). I like them so much, I even recently bought another pair in black.
If the 30th edition of these iconic running shoes is anything like the previous generation, I will no doubt be buying them as well.
P.S (10 January 2013) I just got another pair of Air Pegasus 29s, I couldn't help myself.

Monday, 29 July 2013

What the 2013 Tour de France meant to South Africa.

When the only South African in the 2013 Tour de France, Daryl Impey donned the yellow jersey, South Africans celebrated. He was the first South African to ever wear the Maillot Jaune, he wore it for two days, but eventually (and as expected) he had to give it up to Christopher Froome, a Kenyan born, South African schooled, British rider who kept it all the way until the finish at the Champs-Elysees in Paris, making him the 2013 Tour de France Champion.
Many South Africans claimed him as their own. He did spend many of his formative years in South Africa, and rode for the Barloworld team during his time in Johannesburg.

The sport of  professional cycling is just emerging from the so called "Armstrong period", where performance enhancing drugs were the norm and everybody was involved in illegal practices. Froome represents the new breed of cyclist, one who works hard, but plays fair.

Chris Froome rode for Great Britain and he had a subtle Kenyan flag on his bike, but there is no doubt that his cycling ability was developed in South Africa. He was described as a "rough diamond" by Sky Principle Dave Brailsford when he joined the team, that diamond was shaped and polished by the scientific training techniques of the Sky Procycling team. 

These two riders show that South African cycling is well on track to be a force in the future. With the limited representation that SA had, it fared well and looked good on the international stage. This shows the structures must be working. (I only hope hope that the success doesn't encourage politicians to poke their noses in and destroy all the good work that has been done... It has happened before!)

Another encouraging sign is the MTN Qhubeka team that encourages transformation and development and supports the World Cycling Center Africa to encourage African riders to rise up the ranks of the cycling world. They have an initiative to supply under privileged communities with bikes which also encourages planting trees and recycling.
All these things bode well for South African and African cycling in the future, hopefully in the near future we will see a South African wearing the yellow jersey on the Champs-Elysees on the final day of the Tour de France.

Thursday, 4 July 2013

SA's first Maillot Jaune.

Daryl Impey that rides for the Orica GreenEdge team put on the Tour de France's Maillot Jaune today, making him the first South African in the 100 year history of the Tour de France to be in the yellow jersey that symbolises the leader of the tour.
Well done Daryl, wishing you all the best for your first ride in the yellow jersey tomorrow. We hope to see you putting it on at least a few times more.

Saturday, 29 June 2013

Parkrunning in the new SA.

Many people might want to start running for fitness, but simply don't know how to get involved. My advice is walk out of your front door and simply start running..., but some people prefer a more structured approach. In that case I would really recommend joining a Parkrun, a timed 5 kilometer run on Saturday mornings in various places all over South Africa.
Best of all its free and they cater for everyone from the racing snakes to the casual walker. Simply go to, register and print out the personalized barcode that it will give you and rock up at one of the venues before the 8am start on a Saturday. I would recommend cutting your barcode out and laminating it, but maybe only do that after you have decided that this running thing is for you.
The barcode is scanned at the finish line to record your finish time, position and age ranking. This is easily checked on the website after you receive the official email of your result.

I regularly run the Modderfontein Parkrun, but there is 16 all over the country including 5 in the greater Johannesburg area, being Delta near Craighall Park, Roodepoort, Ebotse in Benoni, Woodlands in Woodmead and of course, Modderfontein. There is 3 in the greater Cape Town area being Greenpoint, Big Bay in Bloubergstrand and Root 44 in Stellenbosch. Durban has 1 on North Beach.You can find your nearest by clicking here.

Recently Discovery Vitality partnered with Parkrun and will award Vitality members with 500 points for each run, you simply have to add this when you register and points will be awarded automatically.

Saturday, 15 June 2013

Virgin Active opens new Bryanston club .

Virgin Active opened another club in South Africa on Saturday. The club is in Bryanston a high end residential area in Johannesburg, with many international company headquarters close by.
It seems like they have went all out with this new club incorporating a 25 meter heated pool, steam room, a yoga studio, spinning studio,a well kitted out kids area. a Kauai snack bar and the infrastructure for the new types of workouts they are introducing like the Queenax structure, the Wattbike and  TS10, workouts which are designed for the real world, from what I can see its loosely based on the principles of cross-fit, but aimed at the more informal trainer.
The club is at 3 Cross Place in Bryanston just off William Nicol Drive.
Virgin Active will also be opening a club in Alice Lane, Sandton in the near future.It will be the third club in their higher end Classic Collection, joining the Moses Mabhida and Melrose Arch Classic clubs in South Africa.

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Garmin Forerunner 10 GPS sports watch

The Garmin entry level GPS sportswatch comes in a few different colours, the black version being slightly bigger than the pink and lime versions, as its aimed at the male market.
I have been using it for over a year and a half now and am very happy with the functions of the watch, its GPS usually finds satellite signal quite fast and the display is very clear with options to show pace, speed, time and distance with two data field screens accessed by a button to show further information.

 I usually display the activity time and the pace underneath with the second data field displaying pace and distance.In the many races I have had it, it has performed very well, but strangely the only problems I have had with it happened during big races.

During the Two Oceans Marathon, the watch could not find satellites at all, I'm assuming because I had driven from Johannesburg to Cape Town, and only switched it on on the morning of the race, none the less, I could not use it during this race.

Before the Comrades Marathon, the strap broke in transit, but was easily fixed with a bit of superglue. The other problem is that the battery was flat, although I could swear I did charge it. I'm going to give the watch the benefit of the doubt and say it was my fault and I must have not charged it properly, as it has worked fine so many other times even after that. The battery power is one thing that is lacking on this watch as it is said to only last for 5 hours in training mode, but I've taken it closer to six hours on runs. It charges easily via USB, which is also used to connect to your computer and is quite easy to customize fields, and the information is available on Garmin Connect, showing all the information about your run like the route, distance,various speeds and paces.

The virtual pacer function is a nice touch, as during training you can set your intended pace and start running and the watch will tell you if you if you are ahead or behind this pace.
As a entry level  GPS watch, it has performed extremely well on all the other runs I have done, (numbering over 200) and really adds to the experience of the run. At the time of writing this review Sportsmans Warehouse is offering an online special until the 7th July of R1350

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Nike Bomba 2 turf football boots

I have been using the original Nike Bomba Finale turf boots in an indoor football match every Monday night for over a year now and have been very impressed by the control they offer on the ball, their ruggedness and great looks. The synthetic leather still looks and feels brand new even though they have taken many a beating, the traction is impeccable and the off center laces really help with control and feel on the ball.

As a rule, I have always taken very good care of my football boots, cleaning them after every game and removing all those pesky black balls that accumulate in them during turf football matches, because of this they are still in pristine condition and I have had many people (some from my own team) repeatedly ask when I got my new boots.

These are easily the best indoor boots I have played with and I have been through many. The main reason I think these boots perform so well is a simple one, these boots have been designed for turf small-sided football, whereas the majority of other turf boots out there have been designed as outdoor boots, then as an after thought, transformed into indoor boots and the design elements really make a difference on the turf and that is what makes these special.
My year old Bomba Finale turf football boots.

Recently I noticed some field-side advertising during Barclays Premiership matches advertising the new Bomba Finale 2, and I have noticed that Nike seems to be going big with this launch, as the indoor, small sided game is huge in especially the UK.

Nike recently gave me the new Bomba 2 to try out, these are the more budget conscious version of the Bomba range retailing for R599 (as opposed to the R1100 of the Bomba Finale 2) in South Africa, but I really like the look and feel of them, the sole features a similar grip pattern to the Bomba Finale, except for the lugs, so should perform reasonably well on turf .They have more of a fabric finish, but look like they would be comfortable during a hard game.
The new Nike Bomba 2 turf football boot.

I will be playing with them for a while and I will come back with my final impressions, but so far they look good.

Thursday, 30 May 2013

My take on the Comrades Marathon

The cold air gives way to the sounds of Shosholoza and Chariots of fire, thousands of runners are packed together in anticipation of the grueling hours ahead of them, the recorded cockerel crow is part of the traditions at the start after Max Trimborn let out the first cockerel cry in 1948 and continued to do so at the start for 32 years before his death, the cockerel crow remains and signals the start of the race, and what a race it is!

It's not the distance that makes it special (although 87 km, is most definitely not something to take lightly) it's not the numbers of participants (this year they have 19 722 entries), not the thousands of rands raised for charities, nor is it the throngs of spectators lining the route cheering every runner on, it's a combination of all these things including the history of the event itself.

After the Great War of 1914-18, Vic Clapham wanted an event to remember the fallen and the hardships, agonies and death soldiers endured during this time, so in 1921, 34 runners left Pietermaritzburg for Durban to commemorate their fallen Comrades, it then became an annual tradition except during the World War II years.

This history is celebrated in many ways in the Comrades marathon, but today it has changed dramatically and has become a mass participation event, so much so that it holds the Guinness World Record for the biggest Ultra Marathon in the world, and you'd be hard pressed to find any South African that doesn't know about it.
It has been broadcast live on TV for years and I remember being a small boy, every year sitting with my breakfast in our living room on Comrades day watching and saying over and over again to anyone that would listen that I was going to run the Comrades "One day!".

Being a Journalist I have been on the finish line of the Comrades many times, and watched people of all shapes and sizes come through to finish, which once had me thinking, "What makes these people special is not only the fact that they ran the 87 km on that day. It's the hundreds of hours on the road before the race day, the sacrifices made. It"s them forcing themselves to have that early morning run when it's the last thing they feel like doing and carrying on even when they hit the rough patches".

That's what makes every finisher of the Comrades a hero in my eyes, and I can't wait to join that exclusive club because this Sunday coming is my "One day!"