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, February 21, 2011

slogging the desert for Solomon's Haven

I've run many miles over massive mountains, next to picturesque lakes, across glacial moraines, through forests and grasslands, along stretches of exquisite coastline, through day and night. Now it's time to put my endurance to the real test by taking on a desert run.

On the 27th March 2011 I'll be taking on the Namib Desert Challenge, a 5-day 220km self-sufficient race in the Namib Desert (http://www.namibdesertchallenge.com/). Temperatures will be extreme, averaging in the mid-40 degrees, and distances each day will be 40-50km. Runners will be required to carry their own food and fuel each day, and will only be provided with water.

I'm an experienced trail runner, sure, but this will be my first time in a desert, and the first race I'll have ever run in real heat... I'm no fan of the heat, so desert temperatures are likely to be my nemesis. I find the thought of five days of them quite terrifying!

This will be a massive personal challenge - it'll undoubtedly be the hardest feat I've ever taken on. But I want to make the slog worthwhile. And I'd love all the help I can get to do so. I've chosen a very special cause that's close to my heart - it's called Solomon's Haven.

Solomon's Haven is an emergency shelter in Mitchell's Plain, Cape Town that is home to +/-16 children, all of whom have been either abused, neglected or abandoned by their own families and referred to Solomon's Haven by the Magistrate’s Court or the Department of Social Welfare. Maria and Alec Solomon 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 is a registered non-profit organisation and receives a government grant of less than R200 per month for each child in its care. This has to cover school fees, food, clothing and transport. Often transport expenses alone amount to R250 per month for children temporarily in the care of the Haven if their school is situated further afield. These government grants are supplemented by Alec’s small income as a builder, and by donations.

In addition to her role as mother and counsellor, Maria represents many of the children in court, providing testimony and dealing with the legalities regarding stewardship of the children. The Haven provides a place of safety for children of all ages, from small babies to teenagers, many for a few years, some for just for a night or a few days. Often Maria receives children in the middle of the night needing immediate attention, care and refuge. As tribute to her enduring work for the community, Maria was runner-up in the V&A Woman of Worth 2003 and very proudly won the full award in 2004.

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 you and I can give it. But without outside assistance, Maria and Alec are unable to give these children the love and care they so desperately crave. Please help me to raise as much as we possibly can to help change the lives of those in need.

To raise funds for Solomon’s Haven, I’ve registered with www.backabuddy.co.za, an online donation site through which donating is simple, fast and totally secure. It's also the most efficient way to donate directly to where funds are needed.

Please support me in raising as much as I can for Solomon’s Haven. Here’s the deal: I’ll do the sweaty work and slog across the desert, and you click on the DONATE NOW link at the top of my backabuddy page!

My donation page is http://www.backabuddy.co.za/champion/project/backabuddynamiblinda

Please contribute to this very worthy cause. Remember, every donation big or small counts for a lot.

And please, spread the word far and wide!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Bruce hits the Peak

No runner ever needs an excuse to run Chapman's Peak Drive – it’s there, that’s reason enough.

Runners from the Republic of Hout Bay (Noordhoek too, of course, but I’m biased) have one of the most scenic roads in the world on their doorstep – it’s just minutes away from anywhere in our valley and it beckons us at all times of day... and night.

Recipe for an unbeatable start to a week

Take a handful of runners, mostly from Hout Bay, and mix evenly in the beach carpark in front of Chapman’s Peak hotel at 4:50am on a Monday morning.

Add running legend Bruce Fordyce, who’s down from Jhb for the day and keen to enjoy the oxygen advantage of running at sea level.

At Hout Bay Time 5am (or 5:05 SA Time), start running up Chappies.

Ensure pace is comfortable, temperature cool and the air crisp.

Ignore when Fordyce complains that the wind’s blowing – it might be by Jozi standards, but the ocean below looks like glass. Jozies don’t know what real wind is.

Be smug when cyclists ride past and have to move over – it’s not often we runners outnumber cyclists on Chappies, especially during the pre-Argus training panic. This morning the road is ours!

Don’t stop at the viewpoint – run on another 2km to the sharkspotter’s corner and watch the mist rolling in across the 4km stretch of beach from Kommetjie towards Noordhoek.

As you take a gentle trot back towards the viewpoint, feel the majesty of Chapman’s Peak towering above, the power of the waves smashing into the cliff way below, and the first rays of sunlight fingering the mist that’s caressing the Sentinel as it guards the entrance to Hout Bay.

Keep temperature moderate. Enjoy the 5km downhill from the viewpoint to the beach – for once it really IS “downhill all the way to the finish”!

Ok, so it wasn’t trail, but it’s hard to beat such an experience: running on such a stunning route, in perfect conditions, with a world champion running legend.

Wally & Chippy Steel with Bruce - 74 Two Oceans Ultras between them!