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!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Recipe for a cool adventure in Iceland

Take 300 well-seasoned runners from +50 countries, equip them with packs weighing between 7 and 13kg, each containing -5ºC sleeping bags, sleeping mats, medical kit, mandatory gear, and enough freeze-dried food, powders, bars and gels to live off for one very hungry week.

Spice with generous scoops of enthusiasm, determination, guts, perseverance and adventurous spirit.
Drive to western centre of Iceland, and place in freezer at extremely cold temperatures varying between -2ºC and 14ºC.

Turn up wind to maximum strength, and sprinkle liberally with icy rain at regular intervals.
Geothermal pools at 80-100ºC
Langjokull glacier with glacial lake & flag
Freeze in 6 phases over 250km for 7 days, watching carefully and adjusting placement in freezer when temperature and moisture conditions drop too low.

Sprinkle with generous handfuls of glaciers and geysers, lava fields and lakes, volcanic craters, dust clouds, shifting land plates, faults and fissures.

Stir regularly to reduce strains, twists and tears, treating and strapping whenever necessary to avoid swelling or seepage. Take out runners who fall off freezer tray.

Warm temporarily on 6th day by removing from wet freezer, then return on 7th day for short final blast of icy wind and rain.

Once fully refrozen, immerse in world famous Blue Lagoon geothermal spa, smear with deep cleansing silica paste and hydrate generously with cool Icelandic lager.

Laugh at fat feet, forget all pain of past week, and enjoy lavish buffet at awards banquet, while planning next self-sufficient 7-day stage race in remote region.
John & Caryn Kennedy, Andrew Espin, me

The South African contingent was strong!

at the top of a long lava field climb on Day 4

food + kit for a week

Our tent clearly had good taste in trail shoes

finishing the final stage with Lia Farley and Andrew Espin

Winner: Mo Foustok 23:04:08                                  Ladies winner:  Lia Farley 27:12:26
2nd place:  Justus Meyer 23:26:56                             2nd place:  Linda Doke 30:07:23
3rd place:  Tom Flummerfelt 25:31:20                         3rd place:  Virginie Goethals 31:38:25
4th place:  Ville Tuominen 25:35:57                            4th place:  Caryn Kennedy 31:39:13
5th place:  Ralph Crowley 25:40:19                            5th place:  Donna Nice 34:57:41

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Iceland D-Day

Well, after months of dreaming, planning and preparation, it’s finally here – Racing The Planet Iceland starts tomorrow. The finalising of the formal admin begins this morning with competitor briefing at 8am followed by check-in, where our kit will be (checked) and packs weighed.

Cramming what’s needed for seven days of running in cold and wet conditions is no easy feat – I think the time it has taken to plan and prepare the kit, mostly made up of mandatory requirements, and then do Houdini to squeeze it all into my 25L pack will be longer than the 30 plus hours it’s likely to take me to run this race.

Right now I’m feeling excited, afraid, filled with anticipation, and more than a tad daunted by the enormity of the challenge ahead. As if the 250km distance with a 9kg pack on my back is scary enough, rumour has it that the RTP course director Carlos is quite a sadist when it comes to route setting – if there’s a geological obstacle of any sort to be gone up/over/across rather than around, it’ll be guaranteed the route will be via the roughest section, even creating the top of said obstacle rather than the saddle.

my food & kit for the next 7 days
Add to that the prediction of bad weather forecast for Wednesday onwards, and we have the ingredients for an even spicier challenge.

I’m enormously privileged to be here, running this race. Iceland is a place that has always fascinated me, but one to which I knew I was never likely to travel to. But life often happens as you don’t quite expect it to, and for me a strange combination of circumstances unfolded in the first half of this year saw me able to sign up for this incredible race.

One of the reasons I’ll be giving RTP Iceland my absolute all is to raise funds for Solomon’s Haven, a wonderful place of safety for abused and/or abandoned children in Mitchell’s Plain in Cape Town. I’m trying to raise as much as I can for this special haven, and I really need your help!
some of the kids at Solomon's Haven saying hi!
Here’s the deal: you click on the DONATE NOW link at the top of my BackaBuddy page, and you leave the tough slog across tundra to me! My donation page is called http://www.backabuddy.co.za/champion/project/islandic250kmrace

Please remember folks, every donation – big or small – counts for a lot. Let's do it, together!