Tag Archives: trail running

Dear Coach #16

Dear Coach,

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I did it – 84 km of trail. I loved it, I hated it, I laughed, I cried, I cursed. I ran through sunshine, lightning, thunder, mist, mud and hail. I fell more than once and faced old demons. But I did it – and I wouldn’t swop the experience for anything.

But while we are all basking in our little bubbles of glory, let us not forget the pacers – they are the unsung heroes. As 50-milers we did not qualify for pacers but our two daughters needed pacers on their 100-mile journey. To be a pacer you need to be a strong runner, you need excellent mental strength, endless patience and the ability to stay calm no matter what. Hats off to all the pacers, but most of all to my two sons-in-law. You surely proved your physical and mental strength bringing our two girls through the last 16 kays of 160,  the very darkest of hours, literally and figuratively. I salute you.

Here’s to next year at Karkloof!


Dear Coach #15

Dear Coach,

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Just one of many beautiful spots that awaits the runners at Karkloof next week.

The next time we speak I’ll be giving my race report. No not race report, let’s call it an adventure report. I have absolutely no intention of racing a 50-miler. My intention is to enjoy the surroundings of what I am sure will be an awesome course, to enjoy the company, to conquer the 80 kays and to come out alive the other side. If the Old Goat and I are still married when we finish this thing, and if we finish it in good time, we will turn our attention to the big one next year – the 100-miler!

But let me not get ahead of myself – it’s easy to dream when you are sitting comfortably on the veranda, running done for the day. Garmin Connect says I am peaking, Strava says I am fresh, so I need to reign myself in (physically and mentally) and just avoid coughing and spluttering people until next Saturday.

kk50 Lols

One of my intrepid daughters at the training camp on the KK100 course.

And now to check the checklist:


All ready and waiting even though my thermal is like a sausage skin that rides up into a crop top. I purchased the real-deal waterproof jacket at great expense to ensure that we actually have no rain – you’re welcome everyone! I do notice though that they have not added a small flask of red wine which I am sure would be an absolute lifesaver if I find myself wrapped in my space blanket at any stage. I wonder if can arrange some sort of flask contraption around the Old Goat’s neck in the manner of a St Bernard?



Dear Coach #14

Dear Coach,

First a little bit of boasting:

aug strava

Check that elevation! I’m very proud of it.

Week 14 is now done and I have been treading an extremely fine line between completing my mileage and getting injured. So many niggles have been rearing their ugly heads but I think I have come out unscathed. Taper time is the time to baby those niggles, conserve the energy and keep ticking over. I can feel the excitement – only 10 days to go!

Dear Coach #13

Dear Coach,


Spring has sprung today and every year at this time I have bags of good running mojo, wanting to get out there and conquer stuff!


I am now over the trauma of thinking I had wrecked my achilles tendon just four weeks before our 50-miler. On Tuesday I had my chassis aligned by the chiropractor who also popped six acupuncture needles into my ankle and told me to leave them there for four days. I was feeling so good after two days that I had my Old Goat remove the needles and I went for a short trail run. All is good, though I do think that due to my advanced age I will need my chassis re-aligned on a fairly regular basis.

We have 32 kilometres of mostly trail to run this weekend, starting this evening. This time in only three weeks the Old Goat and I will be wending our way through the 50 mile course, hopefully feeling like spring chickens. I’m just praying (very, very hard) for decent weather.




Dear Coach #12 Cont.

boston 5

Dear Coach,

So now I have conquered the Boston Beast, though things did get a bit messy on the mountains. I climbed and I cried and I climbed some more until I found myself begging a complete stranger to pull me over the last few rocks of the ridge because “he looked big and strong”. At one stage I was gripping him around the leg, practically looking up his shorts as he looked for steady footing. Poor man.

boston 1My stats show 8 hours of moving time and 9 hours 50 minutes overall. So that means I spent a good hour trying to persuade my Old Goat to run back and commandeer a helicopter to get me off that bloody mountain. I may have even gotten onto a horse at that stage, such was my desperation.  All in all an interesting day and, if it wasn’t for my very sore ankle, I would say that I am now completely ready for Karkloof.

I am now obviously consulting Dr Google for diagnosis and treatment of said sore ankle, which will hopefully be a thing of the past within the next few days.




Dear Coach #11 & #12

Dear Coach,

Not much happened last week except low mileage, some new yoga workouts, a bit of gym and spinning and lots of rest and recovery. So that was week 11 down.

Now for week 12. I would dearly love to hit 70 kays this week without any issues. We have a 45km trail on Sunday – everything is on track so far, except for a slight problem with my Old Goat’s foot.

An angry bull stomped on it while he was trying to load it onto a lorry. I would like to say that the bull came off second best but he just swaggered off nonchalantly, the bull that is. The Old Goat limped home.


Today, in four weeks time, we will be preparing to see the 100-milers off at Karkloof before setting off on our 50-mile adventure the next morning. Very exciting.  I am already obsessed with the long term weather report for Howick.

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PS I’ve discovered the Strava Fitness and Freshness function – loving it, but more about that next week.

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Dear Coach #10

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umgeni river valley 1

Dear Coach,

As you know I was VERY apprehensive about 50km on trail but WOW what an awesome experience the Umgeni River Run was.

We took it easy, walking the uphills, running the downs and doing our best in between which means we weren’t really too shattered when we came in. I am now confident that, unless I am eaten by a Mountain Leopard,  I will finish the 50-miler in September. In fact I am looking forward to it.

Sunday’s adventure did have its highlights though, the best being what I refer to as the Goat Crack incident.

The first river crossing (water up to our knees) popped up early on – there was still frost in shady spots. Oh no I thought – there is no ways I am going to run for hours in frozen, wet shoes – I’ll take them off. Rookie error number one.

Now anyone who has ever crossed a running river with rocks on the bottom knows that doing it barefoot is extremely difficult. No matter, I thought. I’ll just hang onto the Old Goat’s waistband and he can drag me across. This seemed to cause much squawking from said Goat as apparently I was pulling his pants down. When I looked up to see what all the commotion was about I was staring straight into a Goat Crack and I had just caused him to moon the bottleneck of runners behind us. A memorable river crossing indeed.

There were two more river crossings which, thanks to me keeping my shoes on, passed without incident.

Then there were what the race director described as two “big” climbs and which I would refer to as cliff faces. Being scared of heights I had to employ the Bear Crawl to climb out of the valley, which is possibly a new move in the trail running world. Things just seem less scary when my hands can touch the ground.

All in all a memorable day with the most stunning scenery anyone could have asked for (Goat Cracks aside) and nicely rounded off with the most delicious craft beer I have ever tasted – what a great recovery drink!