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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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.

Women dominate King of Phezulu

kim-westbrook-and-neville-muteyiwa-lead-the-18km-pack-out-into-the-phezulu-wildlife-estateMedia release: The 5th episode of King of Phezulu was hosted at Phezulu Safari Park on 12 November 2016 in what has come to be traditional overcast and cool weather. Heavy rain the night before held some runners at bay, but those who got out of bed were well rewarded with some great trail running and game sightings on new routes.

Distances on offer at this classic race are short, 18km, 10km and 5km, but somewhat extreme in their nature. Plummeting down into the Valley of 1000 Hills runners and walkers are challenged when climbing back to the Finish point at The Phezulu Safari Park deck.

“It’s very tough, but so worth it. I would not be doing it if it were easy, the feeling of accomplishment on the finish line is amazing. It’s an epic race that’s in my backyard” said Rowan Dancer who completed the long course alongside his wife Sarah Dancer.

Trail running as a sport is no stranger to seeing ladies dominate in terms of overall numbers and even on the podium. King of Phezulu was exceptional with ladies taking 2nd, 3rd and 4th overall in the 18km, with Neville Muteyiwa (1hr:42) the only man able to keep ahead of the trio, Kim Westbrook (1hr52), Zoe Papadakis (1hr52) and Robyn Mare (2hr01). 2nd and 3rd men across the finish line were Matthew Rencken and James Gallias, 6 minutes behind Mare.

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Ladies dominated in the 18km course, finishing in the top 4 overall. From left is (second) Zoe Papadakis, KZNTR’s Tracey Steart, (ist) Kim Westbrook and (3rd) Robyn Mare

Some talented runners also took on the two shorted courses. Notably Mitchell Harty won the 10km in an impressive time of 50 minutes, Lindi Meyer was the first lady home (1hr02). In the 5km the first two runners, Thulasi Nzama and Gruff Sambrook took tied first place in 30 minutes, with Suzanne Dos Santos Niz the first lady in 39 minutes. For full results and information about future events visit www.kzntrailrunning.co.za

Running for awareness

Press release: The Kwa-Ximba trail run proved to be a resounding success over the weekend, with close to 300 runners taking on the unrelenting terrain in support of this fundraising campaign. The event featured a strong showing of local athletes, who delivered solid performances in the three routes.

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Podium finishers

The 22km course was set to be a tough race with steep climbs and treacherous descents and the humidity and muddy conditions added to the technicality of the race.

In the men’s division, Spha Nzama managed to bag first place in a new record time, with Sizwe Mkhize in second and Nathi Luthuli in third.

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Women’s 22km winners

Meanwhile, the women’s division was hotly contested with Puseletso Dladla, who crossed the finish in first place, and Zoe Papadakis, who placed second, both beating the 2015 women’s winning time. Wendy Morgan rounded the podium off in an impressive third.

Speaking about the event, Dladla, who is a top athlete, was happy to have set a new record.

It was one of the toughest trails I have ever done but yeah I enjoyed,” she said, adding that she was happy to have broken the record by over ten minutes.

Papadakis added that, although it was a tough event, she had fun exploring the trail.

The community were so supportive and it really helped to have them egging us on,” said the Fry’s Brand ambassador and plant based athlete. “At one point, after a tough climb, I was exhausted, but then a whole group of kids decided to run with me. It was so amazing.

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CLinton Hunter blitzed his way to second place in the Men’s 16km

The 16km men’s division saw Gift Mlotshwa home in first place, with Clinton Hunter of RacePace Coaching in JHB hot on his heels in second and Mitchell Harty in third. In the women’s division it was Donnee Standeaven in first place, with Megan Wassung in second and Amanda Emmott in third.

The Kwa-Ximba trail run took place at Durban Green Corridor’s isiThumba Cultural Village on the Umgeni River, forms part of the Kloof Conservancy’s outreach programme and is run each year in partnership with Kwa-Ximba Conservancy. Bruce Crouch, Vice Chairman of Kloof Conservancy, said that they were working hard to try to find ways of combining beneficial use of natural resources and at the same time protect those resources.

Kwa-Ximba is currently rural, but housing development is spreading rapidly with only a small beautiful part being left relatively untouched. Unless there is an intervention soon then even the last remaining ‘natural area’ will be converted into housing within a few years.”

Crouch added that they have been helping form the Kwa-Ximba Conservancy with the goal of educating the residents on the value of the natural resources and the need to protect the environment.

Together with eThekwini Municipality we have embarked on a process to first create a stewardship area and, in the longer term, we hope we can convert this into a proclaimed nature reserve with all the legal protection that goes with it.

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Trailies having fun

Green Trail a success

Press release: Dozens of community members gathered at the Green Corridor on Sunday to make the most of Spring weather by participating in the family fun Green Trail Run. The adventure-filled event comprised of a 5km and 10km route and spirits were high as participants enjoyed a scenic run along the Umgeni River and to the edge of the Mangroves Nature Reserve.

Event winners

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10km men and women winners, Mbhasobhi Gumede and Zoe Papadakis

 

In the 10km men’s division, it was Inanda athlete, Mbhasobhi Gumede, who blitzed his way home in first place, followed by Mbasa Malunga in second and Sibusiso Njilo in third place. Bagging the women’s 10km win is local trail runner and Fry’s Family Foods brand ambassador Zoe Papadakis, who was followed by 12-year old Inanda athlete Mandisa Kkhunya in second place. 

Meanwhile, the 5km men’s division was dominated by young Inanda athlete Sphamandla Mkhunya in first place and Mnelisi Shangase in second place (pictured right) and the women’s 5km division was won by Mkhunya Smangele (pictured left) with local trail runner, Claire de Sylva, smashing her way to third place.

Supporting charity

The Green Trail Run was a resounding success and proved to be a spectacular day out for the whole family. The main race benefactor was The PinkDrive, which provides essential services to women across the country through education, awareness, support and it’s mobile mammography unit.

Traveling through urban and semi-urban ares, the unit enables disadvantaged communities access to education on breast cancer and other prevalent cancers, while also providing physical examination. The event was also in celebration of Arbor Month and saw a seed planted for every entry received.