I hated running at school. Teachers were always pushing me to try out for track and field and I was always making a thousand excuses. So when running re-entered my life over a decade later, it was one hell of a surprise.
Growing up, the only physical activity that really featured in my life was skating… and I don’t mean ice skating, that requires finesse and poise, I mean more like the disgruntled-teenager-listening-to-punkrock-and-trashing-the-parking-lot-with-a-skateboard kind of skating. Boogaloos skate park was right next door to my college, so we would bunk class and hit the half pipe most days.
Moving to Durban, I swapped my skateboard for a surfboard and that became my sport.
I entered my first surf contest in 2011 and went on to surf the local South African Pro Surf Tour for about two years, surfing provincially for South KZN (now Ugu District) and competing twice in SA Champs before the frustration of being involved in the competitive scene eventually got to me and I decided to hang up my contest jersey and take a break.
During that time I discovered running. I needed to vent all my competitive energy somehow and running proved to be the perfect outlet. My first road race was the SPAR women’s race, in 2014, where I finished 10kms in 48:26, placing 89th overall. It wasn’t a bad result and I was pretty stoked but I never really thought much more about it.
It all changed one day in yoga class. Our teacher was demonstrating headstands and I told her I could not do it. She smiled and said that our bodies were capable of so much more than our minds allowed us to believe, that our thoughts and fear hold us back. Then she told me to try going back into a headstand. And yeah, I nailed it. Whoop.
That night I walked out of class seeing everything differently, looking at life’s potentiality instead of it’s limitations. Those words stuck with me and fueled me in running.
Over the next year I clinched various podium finishes in local 10km and 21.1km events in and around Durban. I would occasionally join in on a few group trail runs to diversify training a bit, but trail running only really began to consume my life towards the end of 2015.
The transition was not dramatic, it was a gradual process. After a while the balance shifted and the bulk of my runs (and races) started to be on trail. I loved how free trail running made me feel – Lacing up was like breaking the shackles of everyday life, shrugging off the baggage of the rat race, and escaping to a place where you can be one with a greater cosmic energy. Trail running is the place where I can let everything else slip away and be consumed by the ever present moment. It is where I found myself.
Everything just fell into place at the start of 2016. I started working with an amazing coach, Clinton Hunter, and his wife Elsabé Hunter, from RacePace Coaching, and they played an integral role in nurturing and developing me as a growing athlete. Clint and my initial goal was to work on refining my medium distance road times while delving more into trail running but, a few months down the line, we shifted gears and decided to go all out on trail. We tweaked my programme and a few weeks later I went on to win 3 Falls and break the women’s record.
This was a big moment for me. I had never entered a trail run over 15kms, and especially not one with an elevation gain featured in 3 Falls. I am so excited about where trail running is taking me. It is really amazing to be able to participate in such wonderful events and what makes trail running so special is the incredible people and friends along the way, the mesmerizing places explored and the breath taking experiences.
For me, trail running is so much more than a sport. It is a life changing adventure that continually pushes your boundaries. I love it.