Running for a good cause

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Cruising in my Vivo Primus 

The wet weather did not dampen spirits when over 350 runners braved the rain and took to the trails in support of the Ryan Walker Foundation on Sunday at Stainbank Nature Reserve. This special event was held in support of Ryan Walker, farmer and ex-sharks rugby player is currently living with Motor Neuron Disease (MND/ALS).  He was diagnosed in August 2013 at the age of 35. Together with his family, and through the Ryan Walker Foundation, he aims to create awareness about the disease and contribute where possible to the MND/ALS community.

This fundraising 5km and 10km trail run was something very close to the hearts of the zebracommunity and it was heartwarming to see how many runners and walkers showed up to support the event. The spirit of unity is what makes trail running so special and there was tons of camaraderie on show on the day.

Going into this run, it was not so much a race for, but an opportunity to spend the morning with my extended trail running family. I am training for my first Sky marathon, which looms weeks ahead, so my running coach, Clinton Hunter of RacePace Coaching, is focusing more on mileage with one or two tune up races in between. So I had already tackled 10kms before lining up at the start for the Run-For-Ryan.

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What made it so special is that I got to stand alongside my strength and conditioning coach, Rhain Hoskins from Paragon Fitness, at the start of the race. This fellow barefoot runner and vegan has been my role model and inspiration for ages. So to say I am excited to have joined the Paragon Family, receiving tailored training to meet my running needs, is an absolute understatement! Rhain ended up annihilating the trails, coming home in fourth by seconds!

I was ecstatic to be the first lady home but I need to commend the performance of Mary Murray and Phillipa Brebner, who came in second and third respectively- both ladies show that trail running in KZN is in very good hands!

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A massive thank you to Alison Chadwick and the guys from Riverside Trail for putting together such an incredible event. I see that they raised R20,343 for The Ryan Walker Foundation and R7,760 for Stainbank Nature Reserve and the Coedmore Castle. It is so inspiring to see so many kind hearts in Durbs!

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Paragon Fitness tribe

paragonI am super stoked to join the Paragon Fitness/CrossFit RIED tribe. Had my first session with Rhain Hoskins today and he is a legend! It’s difficult to find a balance, as a runner, between strength, power and endurance., but he totally gets my physical requirements and fuses it with solid body conditioning.

It helps that it is in such an epic gym, and that the crew share my love for barefoot running, natural movement and veganism! So excited about my new extended family!   

Finding my strong

Why do you run?

How many of us get asked that on a daily basis? Some of us do it for health reasons, others for stress management… for me, well my reasons are a little more complicated.

I started running simply as a way of dealing with frustrations of competitive surfing but ended up finding a whole other aspect of myself in the process. I had no idea that something so simple as running would completely alter my life’s trajectory and everyday I am so grateful for the journey it has set me on.

me-3Through running I have found my strong. Yes sure, the physical benefits are great, but what I mean is that, through stripping down and rebuilding all those layers, I have found my inner strength and centred-ness, and that has spilt into all other aspects of life.

Runners tend to rant and rave about the endorphins and the runners high, but we don’t always speak about our lows and hardships. For me, this is where I really got to know myself.

I had an epiphany during a particularly tough run in the gorge. It was hot, I was exhausted and alone and miles away from my car. The only option was to carry on going. I felt all emotional composure dissolve and all those fears that I neatly compartmentalise into boxes everyday broke free and consumed me. I am talking about the big insecurities that deal with life, death and financial security. Suddenly I was just so overwhelmed.

As humans, we tend to label our fears and insecurities, and then neatly store them in the depth of our consciousness, in a dark place where we can ignore them. But, sooner or later, we are going to lose our shit and these thoughts are going to come rushing at us. For me it was in the gorge. Alone. In the heat. Miles away from my car. 

It was interesting because, without the energy to put up any barriers or facades, I really got to see my true self that day. I got to see what my deepest fears were, I got to see what my greatest weaknesses were. More importantly, I got to see what my strengths were because, despite the fatigue and despondency, I really had no choice but to push through and carry on. It was so empowering.

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awesome friendships forged

Since then I have embraced every tough run with open arms because it is one more opportunity to master my own strengths, both physical and emotional. Last year I ran Table Mountain in PMB with heatstroke. I did 18kms, falling about eight times along the way, and dragged my feet over the finish line. It was a really bad idea and definitely wouldn’t advise ANYONE repeat my mistake but, by the time I realised there was something wrong, it was pretty much too late and I had to keep going. I honestly thought I was going to die, I felt so sick… but I didn’t. I DIDN’T… That was the key  lesson. I was not sure if I could cope but I did.

Life ebbs and flows like the ocean. There will be good times and there will be bad times. It is easy to stay strong when things are on an even keel, but when the world as we know it shifts and throws us off balance, THAT is where the real test comes in. Before I started this amazing running journey, I often doubted whether I was equipped to handle life’s curve-balls. However, all those tough sessions has shown me that I am stronger than I ever thought or believed was possible.

So, why do I run? I run because it is where I can be my true self. I run because it is where I am the most free, where I am the happiest. But I also run because it is tough. Because it makes me stronger, it makes me braves and it gives me courage to embrace life.

A muddy start to 2017

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happy trail runners

Media release: Runners from across Durban braved wet weather and testing muddy conditions to support the KZN Trail Running (KZNTR) fundraising event in support of Coedmore Castle on Saturday. Taking place at the Kenneth Stainbank Ezemvelo and KZN Wildlife Nature Reserve in Yellowwood Park, the trail run proved to be a resounding success, with a portion of the proceeds going towards the upkeep and maintenance of the historical castle.

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Women’s 15km winners

The trail run was the first for the 2017 racing season and featured a strong contingent of athletes taking part, including seasoned trail veterans. Blair Thompson clinched first place in the 15km route, with Colin Van Der Bergh and Travers Pellew in second and third consecutively. In the ladies division, it was a close call, with Puseletso Dladla coming home first a minute ahead of Zoe Papadakis. Rounding off the podium in third place was Xoli Madida.

The ten km men’s division was dominated by Zothile Moto, who came in first place ahead of Johan Pretorius and Nicholas Forsyth, with Kirsten Glen coming home first in the women’s division, and second overall, ahead of Hlobisile Madida and Awie Viljoen. The 5km featured a strong showing of juniors, with U16 athlete, Corbyn Marais, placing first ahead of Naomi Maujean and Oly Maujean.

trailThe Coedmore Castle has been left to the state however, the family has retained responsibility for its management and upkeep. The property still features the old homestead, Coedmore Castle and granary, dating back to 1885. The granary has been recently restored into the Mary Stainbank Memorial Gallery and the castle still features the 19th century furniture and personal artefacts and is maintained by the Stainbank family.

Durban runners blaze through the trails

Images: Anthony Grote

Press release: Durban runner, Eric Ngubane, showed his fine form when he claimed top honours in the uMhlanga Trail Run on Sunday. Crossing the line after flying through the 18km trail, Ngubane stopped the clock in a time of 1:13.00, running at an average of 4minutes and 3 seconds.

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Ngubane features prominently on the local running circuit, having won various prestigious titles and also being drafted into the South African team at the World Trail Championships in previous years. Having just returned from winning the treacherous Lesotho Ultra Trail, he will now take a well deserved break before hitting the trails hard in 2017.

The leading lady, Amy Burger took line honours in the 18km race, finishing with 30 seconds to spare ahead of Lisa Collett, and Durban runner, Zoe Papadakis, consecutively.

“It was epic,” said Burger on the event. “The last section on the beach was not a glamorous ending, I wiped out, getting knocked over by the surf. But I love trail running, and the challenges that go with running off road.”

mePapadakis added that the spirit was what made the uMhlanga trail runs so special.

“Everyone is having a great time,” she said. “This is my second time taking on the 18km, I do prefer longer distances because it is where you get to know yourself, when you are pushing.”

By far the cutest rising trail running star, 10-year-old Liam Johnson from Hillcrest wowed the crowd with his impressive run in the shorter distance, the 5km run. He completed the run seconds behind first place Hendrik van Rensburg who is three times his age. Meanwhile, Cari-Ann Smith from Westville finished with a comfortable five minute gap ahead of second placed Jodi Davidson.

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.

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“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.

Conquering Table Mountain

Media Release: Billed as a cultural experience rather than a trail run, the KZNTR Summer Series Table Mountain event took place in crisp, clear conditions recently. The 7km, 12km and 20km routes all ascended the iconic, flat-topped mountain outside Pietermaritzburg, which is steeped in local folklore and afforded participants magnificent views of the uMngeni and uMsundusi valleys, Nagel Dam and Pietermaritzburg in the distance.

“This race is special, it’s the one I make sure I do every time,” said said PMB local, Colin Boyes, who ran the 12km course for the 9th time. “The climb early on is a challenge when the body hasn’t warmed up, but the views and rare opportunity to experience a place that is sacred to the local community make it so worthwhile.”

There was a strong showing from local runners in the 7km and 12km events, but regulars put their stamp on the 20km event. The men’s 20km was won by Nomore Mandivengerei (1:23:11), who is putting the final training in before Ultra Trail Cape Town in 3 weeks time, Muzi Madikwa in 2nd (1:26:13) and Innocent Nyawose completing the podium (1:36:34). Kim Westbrook has returned to the trails with a bang, winning the ladies 20km event in 1:51:47. Chasing hard were Jess Kew in 2nd (1:53:15) and Zoe Papadakis (1:53:25) in 3rd, pushing each other to the finish line.

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Women’s 18km winners