Be brave

“You’re off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting,
So… get on your way!”
― Dr. Seuss

I entered 2018 with a handful of goals but they all tie into one big resolution- to be more brave.

That includes being brave enough to seek new adventures, to explore new trails, to love, to laugh, to be kind to myself and others, to push my boundaries and do what is required to be my best possible self… It’s going to be a good year.

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Cultivating mental toughness


I am taking a new approach to training in 2018- I always thought time spent training physicaly was enough- now I am incorporating additional factors and emphasizing aspects such as nutrition, recovery and the mental side of things.


So my focus this week is all about growing mental strength and grit- and what better way than to do it with snatches, which Rhain (my awesome strength and conditioning coach) of Paragon Fitness/CrossFit Ried insists are perfect training for speed, power, strength and stability-

I am looking forward to seeing this translated on the trails.

My first big race is March so yay.




The spirit of trail running shines at 1000 Hills Challenge

Trail running is often defined by its camaraderie and greater sense of community, with like-minded people from all walks of life come together to support one another on the trails. The 1000 Hills Challenge, which took place at Nagle Dam over the weekend, captivated this essence perfectly, featuring an incredible atmosphere and keen display of togetherness amongst the trail running communities.

100 hills winners
women’s winners

This premier trail running event is renowned for its tough routes, incorporating undulating climbs, sharp descents and a tricky river crossing or two across the various distance options. Yet it was in the face of these challenges that the spirit of trail running truly shone, as participants cheered one another on and assisted each other through the tough times.

Commenting on the event, photographer Graham Daniel noted that, watching and photographing the river crossing, there was no sign of division.

“Everyone was working together and putting their own advancement aside to make sure their fellow runners got across the river fine,” he said.

The 1000 Hills Challenge, now in its sixth year, proved to be a massive success, with over 600 runners flocking to the beautiful, scenic Nagle Dam to participate in either the 38km, 20km, 10km, or 5km runs.

“Someone commented that it wasn’t 1000 Hills but 2000,” laughed Lauren Booth of KZN Trail Running (KZNTR), the event organisers behind the 1000 Hills Challenge, as well as KZN’s other prestigious trail events. “The smiles and grimaces of satisfaction on the finish line told a story of achievement.”

38km Mens Results:

1st: Eric Ngubane (3:00:23)

2nd: Linda Zondi (3:01:18)

3rd: Sanele Maphumulo (3:02:39)

38km Womans Results:

1st: Carla van Huyssteen (3:20:36 )

2nd: Sue Chapman (4:03:37)

3rd: Zoe Papadakis (4:09:23)

For full results, visit


Fun in the mud at Hilton

It was a wet, muddy day of fun at the KZNTR Hilton College Trail Run on Sunday. This is such a lovely route and the cool, misty conditions just added to it’s charm and intrigue. Still relatively new to the trail scene, I first tackled this race last year, finishing up in third place on the 12km. So I was excited, and nervous, to try my hand at the longer distance in preparation for my first upcoming Sky marathon next month.


Admittedly, I have been a bit weary about the slightly longer distances, it is something I am still tentatively exploring, but it was reassuring and calming to line up at the start next to so many good friends and familiar faces. The camaraderie and spirit of the trail running community is what makes this sport so special, and there was tons of that going around as we all stood in the rain, waiting for the race to get underway.

Last year, when I first ran Hilton, I was in a completely different place physically and mentally. I had literally just began working with my coach, Clinton Hunter from Racepace Coaching, so my strength and endurance was not up to scratch (he quickly changed that!), and my health was suffering from poor eating habits (I switched over to a plant based diet and my health and performance increased dramatically).

Paragon Fitness tribe!

With all this in mind, I ran the first half of this race rather cautiously, only kicking it up a few notches by the tenth km. Recently, I have been working closely with Rhain Hoskins from Paragon Fitness, who has been overseeing my conditioning and strength training, and it was really great to run this event with him (although he was way ahead of me for most of the route). He is really inspirational, and somewhat of a mentor, always talking about digging deep and giving 100% effort, and that was what I drew upon to help me through moments of fatigue (I am still relatively new to longer distances remember).

The course was pretty tricky to navigate, with all the mud and some technical sections and climbs at the start. Again, last time I ran this route, I did not have the greatest shoes or equipment with me, which really made it more difficult. This time round I returned armed with my Vivobarefoot Primus Trail shoes and UltrAspire hydration vest, and it made a huge difference.


By the last km, I was feeling stronger than ever and was so excited to come home as the second lady. This was such a wonderful event and I really take my hat off to Lauren and Andrew Booth of KZNTR for putting together such well run events. I also need to give a special shout out to my mom who stood in the rain and cold for hours, supporting us. And to all my wonderful friends for always making this such a fun day out. Massive respect to the podium winning ladies, Puseletso Dladla and Kirsty Bomford who finished in first and third respectively. such phenomenal athletes!!!

Cyclists and runners unwind at serene, summery STIHL Sharks Trail Adventure

Written by: Kyle Gilham

Images by: Anthony Grote

sceneShongweni – Idyllic weather, a spectacular setting, pristine views and a magical festive season atmosphere complimented the red-hot action that the record field enjoyed out on the trails as the 2016 STIHL Sharks Trail Adventure on Sunday, 4 December at Summerveld Estate in Shongweni made for a memorable day for all in attendance.

Up front, Andrew Hill and Debrah Thomas together with Nomore Mandivengerei and Zoe Papadakis claimed the men’s and women’s titles in the event’s feature races, the 40km mountain bike race and 18km trail run, respectively while further back in the field it was smiles aplenty.

Having won the event’s first three MTB titles from 2012-2014, TIB Insurance’s Hill of Hillcrest overcame the off-season challenges to make clinch his fourth crown in five years in his own back yard.

andrew-hill“Today was one of those days where everything was just perfect!” enthused Hill afterwards. “I think going from base training to high intensity race mode meant the body experienced a bit of shock but otherwise it was just such a wonderful ride and a great event! Conditions were just perfect regardless of whether you were cycling or running.”
Hill charged home ahead of Computershare Change a Life Academy’s ecstatic Mboneni Ngcobo while fittingly former Sharks rugby player, Jeremy Thomson (Thule/PYGA Industries) raced home to finish on the bottom step of the podium.

The women’s race – void of many of the province’s top elite racers – saw some of KZN’s hardy annuals enjoy their share of the limelight as Debrah Thomas finished nearly five minutes ahead of Linda Maphanga and Linda Potts.

In the 20km MTB clash, emerging talents Nkululeko Pewa raced home ahead of Mntomuhle Mgeyane and Nicholas de Bruin in the men’s contest while young stars Sarah Ryan, Hannah Elliott and Riley Smith made it a one-two-three for ROAG Racing.
The day’s proceedings got underway in a cloud of trail running action as the 18km and 9km competitors took to the Shongweni region’s spectacular trails and soaked up the magnificent views of the surrounding valleys and mountains.

In the men’s encounter, Old Mutual running team member Nomore Mandivengerei of Zimbabwe made a late charge to edge out Maxed Elite athlete, Kwenza Ngubane while Jonathan Edwards finished third. Pietermaritzburg based Mandivengerei started slowly but worked his way to the front of the field by the halfway stage and then put in a late charge with just 500m to go to clinch the honours, his second victory of the weekend.

“Yesterday I ran the KZN Trail Running 22km race at Hilton College where I came first and now today I came first as well, so I’m very happy!” said Mandivengerei who used the weekend’s clashes to prepare for his upcoming trip to the Western Cape for the 65km event of the 2016 Ultra-Trail Cape Town.

“Last year I was leading this race when myself and two others took a wrong turn, so this year I made sure I ran with my eyes wide open and followed all the markers very carefully,” he laughed.
“This race is not too technical and it’s quite fast but we’re also able to enjoy the nice views while we’re running so I really like this race.”

The women’s 18km contest was a richly competitive one that saw former STIHL Sharks Trail Adventure winners and several podium finishers of recent KZN events all looking to make the title their own. In the end though it was Papadakis who showed a clean pair of heels to her fellow title hopefuls, charging home to make amends for her disappointment at the same event last year.


“Last year we arrived late for the start and so I tried my hardest but only managed to finish fourth, so there was a lot of unfinished business for me coming into this year’s race,” chuckled Papadakis.
“I’m not the fastest runner and the hills here are a bit tough but I went well today and it was great to get the win,” she added as she now looks to start her preparations for next year’s SkyRun.

Madida is a familiar surname to the STIHL Sharks Trail Adventure with Xoli Madida having won the women’s 18km trail run title in 2013 and 2014 and finished second last year.
This time around it was Madida’s fellow Newcastle based sister, Hlobisile, who claimed the runner’s up spoils, edging out event newcomers Robyn Mare and Kirsty Allen while Xoli had to settle for fifth place.

“Yoh, (Zoe) was so strong today; she ran very well!” explained Hlobisile Madida. “I really enjoyed this race though and I’m happy with second place!”

The day’s busy programme also included a 10km and 2km Kiddies Ride while local artist Cheryl Engel’s acoustic melodies had spectators and race finishers foot-tapping and head-bopping throughout the morning and the Cell C Sharks’ squad manned the water tables, handed out finishers’ medals and posed for photographs with adoring fans.

Focus on depression

I struggle with depression. Four of the hardest words I have ever had to say. Why am I admitting to this? Well, 10 October (my birthday coincidently) was World Mental Health Day and, as part of an ongoing campaign to continue meaningful discussions surrounding the topic, SADAG is encouraging people to talk openly and honestly about their experiences… The idea is to shatter misconceptions and debunk myths.

A photo by Benjamin Combs.

Am I crazy?

The sad truth is that many people still regard depression as a weakness or associate it with being ‘crazy’. However, it is in fact an illness involving your body, mood and thoughts. Men and women of all ages can be affected by it and it can be cause by various factors.

For me, it is genetic and biochemical (depression is believed to be caused by an imbalance of brain chemicals called neurotransmitters. In other words, when the functioning of certain neurotransmitters is disturbed, depression can occur.) I am not a sad person. I am not miserable because my life sucks. In fact, I am not miserable at all! I am just living with an illness that causes a bunch of physiological and psychological symptoms.

The big D

I was about 8 when I first felt the numbness of depression in the pit of my stomach. That is always where I feel it. It is a slow wave of nausea that slowly spreads throughout my body, transforming into a persistent and overwhelming sense of fatigue, exhaustion, numbness, frustration, anger and physical pain. It occurred to me that everything was pretty pointless and I could not shake that feeling of foreboding. It made me so tired.

I did not realize it at the time, but that feeling was depression rearing it’s cold, ugly face. Since that day I have been living with that dark, uninvited companion. It hit me hard in my teens, resulting in years of eating disorders and frantic mood swings, and it took years for me to figure out why I was so different to everyone else. It took another several years for me to learn how to control and cope with it.

For me, one of the hardest things was dealing with the stigma attached to depression. People often told me to snap out of it, they said that I had problems and issues, that I was a disturbed person, that I needed to pull myself together. For those reasons I refused to believe that I was living with depression and refused to seek professional help, instead looking for alternative reasons to explain why I was always feeling so sick.

Eventually my doctor sat me down and gave me a full explanation on what depression really is and how it was manifesting physically in my body. Nausea, stomach ache, fatigue, dizziness, muscle aches, mood swings… it was all due to a simple chemical imbalance.

Road to recovery

I have undergone various treatment methods and have finally found one that works for me, but it is different for every person, which is why it is so important to seek professional help. I am just grateful that I have had running to help me through this.img_4624

It has kept me on an even keel. the trails is where I let everything go. Where I can let my walls come down and just be me. It is where I meet my true self and where I can express myself without inhibitions. Running is when I am truly free and it has saved me.

I hope that, by speaking out about this, it might encourage others living withi this illness to find help! We are not meant to feel this way. You deserve to feel alive, not dead. And you deserve proper treatment!

Information on depression

SADAG is at the forefront of patient advocacy, education and destigmatisation of mental illness in the country. Its expertise lies in assisting patients and callers throughout South Africa with mental health queries.

SADAG released the following information on depression.

What is a Depression?

A Depression is a “whole-body” illness, involving your body, mood and thoughts. It affects the way you eat and sleep, the way you feel about yourself, and the way you think about things. A Depression is not the same as a temporary blue mood. It is not a sign of personal weakness or a condition that can be willed or wished away. People with a depression cannot merely “pull themselves together” and get better. Without treatment, symptoms can last for weeks, months or years. Appropriate treatment, however, can help most people who suffer from Depression.

Symptoms of Depression

Not everyone who is depressed experiences every symptom listed. Some people experience a few symptoms, some people experience many. Also, the severity of symptoms varies between individuals.

Symptoms of Depression include:

  • Persistent sad, or “empty” mood
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities that were once enjoyed, including sex
  • Feelings of hopelessness and pessimism
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, helplessness and self-reproach
  • Insomnia or hypersomnia, early morning awakening, or oversleeping
  • Appetite and/or weight loss or overeating and weight gain
  • Decreased energy, fatigue and feeling run down
  • Increased use of alcohol and drugs, may be associated but not a criteria for diagnosis
  • Thoughts of death or suicide; suicide attempts
  • Restlessness, irritability, hostility
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering, making decisions
  • Persistent physical symptoms that do not respond to treatment, such as headaches, digestive disorders, and chronic pain
  • Deterioration of social relationships

If you think you, or a friend or family member, might be struggling with depression, please check them out for more information

Taking a stand against hate crimes

A team of 15 lesbian, transgender, and gender-queer persons will be at the starting line of the 10km race of the Mandela Marathon in Howick on 28 August in an effort to raise funds for Iranti-Org and draw attention to the high levels of violence against lesbian, transgender, intersex, and gender-queer persons in Africa.

For those unfamiliar with the non- profit organisation, Iranti-Org is based in Johannesburg and produces documentaries and podcasts about the lives of people whose biology, identity, and/or gender expression differ from the dominant gender-binary, heterosexual norm. Despite the existence of a Government Task Team on Hate Crimes, the incidence of assault, rape and murder has increased. The low rate of prosecution and convictions  show that homophobia and transphobia are rife at all levels of society.

Crimes of hate

A recent example of this was the murder of 16-year old Lesley Makousa. The teenager was a gay Grade 10 learner at Promosa Secondary School, whose deserted body was found in a nearby field of Promosa, in the North West Province.

It was reported that Lesley had been strangled with a shoelace and there are rising concerns that the murder was an anti-LGBT hate crime.

Speaking about the incident, Mpho Buntse, Chairperson of the North West K9 LGBTI group, told Mambaonline that he believes this was a hate crime.

“The victim was openly gay. It is very indicative of a hate crime,” said Buntse.

This is just one of many local attacks but sadly many incidents go unreported. It is an issue that needs to be adressed, which is why spreading awareness on the topic is so important.

Laid to rest

Iranti attended Lesley’s memorial service, which was hosted by Promosa Secondary School. There was a high attendance from bereaved family, school mates and the broader community of Promosa. Lesley’s teacher spoke highly of them and expressed a deep regret that they had passed on so soon.

Show your support

There are many ways community members can get involved and show their support. Donations can be made to Iranti via their website or you can show your support to the team of runners, either on social media using #RunForIranti, or physically backing them up at the start and finish of the Mandela Marathon.

Power through music

This video speaks volumes